State Rep. Robert F. Hagan (D-Youngstown) is renewing calls for the state Inspector General to open an investigation into the cozy relationship between Governor John Kasich and the oil and gas industry after new details regarding a plan to sell Ohioans on the “benefits” of fracking in state parks were revealed in Saturday’s edition of the Columbus Dispatch.
The Kasich administration indicated in February that any consideration of fracking in state parks had ended in August of 2012, but records obtained through a public records request by the Columbus Dispatch show that meetings between high-level officials in the governor’s office and ODNR to discuss the marketing plan continued for months afterward.
The original pro-fracking marketing plan from Ohio’s Department of Natural Resources uncovered in February showed the regulatory agency working closely with big oil and gas companies and Gov. Kasich to identify, stifle and discredit groups and elected officials concerned with drilling in state parks. The document listed Rep. Hagan by name along with several state environmental organizations on a list of “opposition groups,” while “allied groups” included the Governor’s office, JobsOhio and big oil and gas companies, such as Halliburton.
Prompted in part by the revealing of the original public relations strategy, Rep. Hagan joined several other state representatives this spring in calling for an investigation into whether the Kasich administration and Ohio’s regulatory agencies exert inappropriate political pressure to the benefit of certain energy companies. So far there has been no response from the Inspector General.
“The lack of honesty and transparency coming from the Governor’s office is alarming, and these new disclosures should raise a big red flag for the Inspector General,” Rep. Hagan said. “Ohioans deserve better than a Governor who likes to keep secrets, and I urge the Inspector General to get to the bottom of this mess.”