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Oil, gas panel full of vacancies

By Peyton Neely

The Marietta Times

pneely@mariettatimes.com

Residents living within or near the boundaries of property owned by the state of Ohio may not see any of their land or minerals being developed any time soon due to the Oil and Gas Leasing Commission having all vacant seats.

“All too often, the voice of the people gets left out of these types of discussions,” said Rebecca Clutter, board member with National Association of Royalty Owners (NARO) Appalachia Chapter and also the founder of the Landowners for Energy Access and Safe Exploration (LEASE). “NARO and LEASE are the only organizations here that represent solely and without compromise the oil and gas mineral owner’s interests. I am also a concerned citizen of Medina County.”

In 2011, the Ohio 129th General Assembly passed legislation which would have created the Oil and Gas Leasing Commission. The commission would then be responsible for managing the state’s mineral resources but Ohio Gov. John Kasich failed to fill the seats of this commission.

“The legislation put this part into the 11-line budget bill in 2011,” said Ohio Rep. Andy Thompson, R-Marietta. “This was to help facilitate where the oil and gas industry goes on state land while looking out for the land properties adjacent to state properties. The governor signed this in 2011 when there was a fight over severance tax and appointing those positions got set back. Now it’s been six years.”

Thompson said currently, the Ohio House of Representatives has already overwritten Kasich and now it’s going through the Senate in an attempt to fill the commission seats.

“Meanwhile, we are all at a halt waiting to see what happens in the Senate,” Thompson added. “We want to allow the House and Senate to appoint these positions.”

Thompson said without the appointments of this commission, private property owners can’t explore what minerals they have on their own properties if the properties can’t be accessed other than through state-owned land.

“It is a work-in-progress,” he said. “I have hope and faith that the Senate will be able to finish this out. The governor signed the law and we need to execute the law.”

Clutter said it is important to voice the concerns of the private mineral owners.

“The appointments to this commission were never made and I personally made several calls to the governor’s office on this. I was told ‘no date to fill these seats has been set’ and ‘this is a paper-only commission,'” said Clutter.

According to Ohio Revised Code 1509.71 statement of policy regarding state-owned oil and natural gas resources, it is the policy of the state to provide access to and support the exploration for, development of and production of oil and natural gas resources owned or controlled by the state in an effort to use the state’s natural resources responsibly.

Therefore, the Oil and Gas Leasing Commission was created consisting of the chief of the division of geological survey and four other members to be appointed by the governor.

The remaining four members were to be two members from a list recommended by a statewide organization representing the oil and gas industry, one member of the public with expertise in finance or real estate and one member representing a statewide environmental or conservation organization.

“It was wrong for Gov. Kasich to refuse to perform his duties under Ohio Revised Code. It would be wrong for this to not be fixed,” said Clutter.

The Senate is currently not in session and Thompson said that it could be until the next General Assembly until this issue is resolved. That date is still to be announced.

At a glance

¯ Ohio Gov. John Kasich passed legislation in 2011 creating a commission for oil and gas leasing.

¯ This would protect a landowner’s rights to the natural minerals on their property.

¯ Currently, the Ohio Senate is trying to override the governor to appoint those seats, which have not been filled by Kasich.

¯ Until then, private property owners and the state can’t manage mineral resources.

Source: Ohio Rep. Andy Thompson, R-Marietta.

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