| COLUMBUS, Ohio
COLUMBUS, Ohio May 25 The Republican-led Ohio
legislature approved a bill setting rules for drilling and
related activities in the state's shale gas industry, in a vote
late on Thursday, responding to a series of small earthquakes in
Ohio last year that experts linked to a practice called
Republican State Representative Peter Stautberg said the new
measure will ensure safe development of Ohio's shale gas
reserves while allowing the energy industry to prosper.
"There is a balance that is to be struck between the
industry and the administration ... without hampering the
industry to such an extent that it destroys the efforts of this
state to take advantage of the natural resources," he said.
The bill, which now goes to Republican Governor John Kasich
for his signature, requires increased disclosure of chemicals
and water used in the fracking process.
Fracking is the controversial practice of injecting
chemical-laced water and sand into shale to release oil and
Critics say that the high-pressure injection of the liquid
into rock causes seismic activity. Some some states have either
banned fracking or placed strict restrictions on how it is
The bill also requires water sampling within 1,500 feet of
proposed water wells. It mandates that oil and gas wells be
tracked between the time they are drilled and the time they are
capped. It requires that waste fluids from other states be
disclosed before they can be injected into wells in Ohio.
And the legislation requires increased inspection of wells,
and forces well owners to hold liability insurance coverage.
Many Democrats said the bill paves the way for the industry
to hide information about toxic chemicals that could contaminate
"You have grandchildren. You have kids that could be exposed
to these dangers," Democratic Representative Bob Hagan said.
But the measure passed the House by a vote of 73 to 19 and
the Senate concurred by a vote of 21 to 8.
Kasich said he will sign the legislation.
"I'm so excited about what this legislation accomplishes and
what it means for Ohio's future," he said.
A series of 11 small earthquakes culminating in a New Year's
Eve tremor with a magnitude of 4.0 in the Youngstown, Ohio, area
prompted the state to place a drilling moratorium on five wells.
The Ohio Department of Natural Resources said in March that
the high-pressure injection of fluid underground related to
fracking caused the earthquakes.
Ohio has nearly 200 deep wells in 41 counties, with 177 of
those wells used primarily for oil and gas waste disposal. Since
1983, more than 202 million barrels of oilfield fluids have been
disposed of in Ohio, more than half from out of state.
(Editing by Greg McCune and Jan Paschal)