What do fracking chemicals and political spending have in common in Ohio?
Last year, the oil and gas industry and ALEC, the American Legislative Exchange Council, helped pass a bill that lets energy companies keep secret many of the chemicals used in fracking, a new and poorly regulated technique of drilling for natural gas. With hundreds of wells in operation, and with plans to dig thousands more, these chemicals pose a potential threat to Ohioans' health and the environment.
And as they pump chemicals into wells across the state, drillers and their industry allies are pumping cash into Ohio politics, with $1.8 million given to Ohio politicians over the last two years, according to a new report by Common Cause Ohio.
With enormous access and influence over Ohio's elected officials, fracking lobbyists have been very successful in convincing our leaders to frack first, and ask questions about the dangers of fracking later. Fracking interests reported spending only $43,000 on lobbying in Ohio in 2011-2012; however they're almost certainly putting in far more and relying on Ohio's weak lobbying disclosure law to keep it out of sight. In neighboring Pennsylvania, the fracking boom was backed by $12.7 million in lobbying -- nearly 300 times the Ohio total -- during the same period.
This is why a new initiative by Rep. Charles Hagan, D-Youngstown, to require lobbyists to report all of their expenditures, especially their salaries, is so important for shining a brighter light on the fracking industry's influence in Ohio.
Office: Common Cause National
Issues: More Democracy Reforms