Alert – Ohio Enacts Law Creating a State Agency to Oversee & Facilitate Leasing of State Land

April 13, 2012

In 2011, the Ohio Legislature adopted an addition to Title XV of the Revised Code, Conservation of Natural Resources.  This addition, effective September of 2011, created the Oil and Gas Leasing Commission, a five-member commission to facilitate exploration and development of state-owned lands in order to use the state’s natural resources responsibly.  This creation is especially important as the development industry is steadily rising in Ohio; over 590,000 of Ohio’s acres are state-owned, including the Salt Fork Park, located over potentially-lucrative natural gas reserves.

In addition to providing for the Commission and procedures and rules, the addition provides for an inventory and classification of state-owned lands, the manner by which they may be leased, and an exclusion of certain nature preserves.  Additionally, the law provides that at least thirty percent of the proceeds from any lease within or under a state park must be credited to the state treasury fund that supports that park.

The need to maintain and repair state parks has been mitigated by a growing state budget that puts such activities on the back burner, and some see this as an opportunity to bring in the funds necessary to keep the parks alive.  Others, however, voice concerns about noise, heavy equipment, and the parks’ natural environment in general.

Advances in drilling technology, particularly hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling, have lead to oil and natural gas production in places scarcely explored before, including parts of Ohio.  While the state’s legal framework for oil and gas production remains relatively-undeveloped, the Legislature’s move could indicate not only a proactive stance on developing better laws, but also an amenable attitude towards utilizing valuable natural resources.

To view the new addition to the Revised Code, click here.

Comments are closed.