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State approves fracking in state parks amid protests and fraud investigation: 'We're rightfully really angry'

"At a time when the science is telling us we have to stop all the oil and gas, instead we're doing this in our parks."

"At a time when the science is telling us we have to stop all the oil and gas, instead we’re doing this in our parks."

Photo Credit: iStock

The oil and gas industries are some of the world's biggest polluters, due partly to the toxic chemicals they release into the environment when drilling and partly to the heat-trapping air pollution that comes from burning these fuels. 

Despite that fact — and despite shady dealings from an industry nonprofit earlier this year — the state of Ohio has just decided to allow oil and gas fracking in some state parks, AP News reported.

What happened?

"Fracking" is a type of oil and gas drilling in which companies inject high-pressure water and chemicals into the ground to break it up and make it easier to extract fuel. This contaminates the ground and any nearby water sources with chemicals and fuel and creates tons of toxic wastewater that is often not treated or disposed of safely.

This year, the Ohio Oil and Gas Land Management Commission has been discussing allowing fracking in state parks and has had a public comment period as part of the process. It allegedly received dozens of letters in support of the idea — letters that turned out to be fraudulent, sent by the nonprofit Consumer Energy Alliance which is partially funded by the oil industry.

Nevertheless, the OGLMC has decided to move forward with the proposal, AP News reported

With this new decision, fracking — and the accompanying pollution — can now take place in parts of Ohio that were previously set aside as nature preserves. The OGLMC approved the plan in the midst of protests by demonstrators holding signs saying "DENY" and "Save Our Parks."

"At a time when the science is telling us we have to stop all the oil and gas, instead we're doing this in our parks," Cathy Cowan Becker, a member of Save Ohio Parks, told AP News. "We're rightfully really angry about this."

Why does this decision matter?

Oil and gas companies love fracking because it's a quick and dirty way to make a buck. Understandably, many people don't want them doing it in state parks, which are supposed to be preserved in a natural state.

It's important to keep these areas wild and ecosystems healthy so people can enjoy the scenery and wildlife and so that many species of plants and animals can be preserved when they would otherwise die out due to habitat loss. Pollution and the disruptive activities of oil companies in these areas would completely ruin them for their primary purpose.

What's being done to protect Ohio state parks?

According to AP News, Cowan Becker said she would continue to show up to meetings on behalf of Save Ohio Parks in opposition to fracking in Ohio. The investigation into the fraudulent support letters is also ongoing.

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