The Ohio General Assembly closes its two-year term later this month.  The waning days of the term, falling between the November election and the end of the year, are known as the “lame-duck” session.  During this session, legislators have introduced a flurry of bills relating to hydraulic fracturing and shale gas drilling.   Many of these bills are sponsored by Democrats from the Youngstown area, where a number of active shale and disposal wells are sited and the location of the controversial December 31, 2011 earthquakes.

All of these bills were slated for hearing before the session closes, but none are expected to pass the Republican-controlled chambers.  The proposed bills are: 

SB 318, sponsored by State Senator Capri Cafaro, would require wells in urbanized areas to comply with zoning requirements, to revise the setback distances of a well from an occupied dwelling, to require the disclosure of all chemicals and substances used in hydraulic fracturing, to eliminate mandatory pooling, to apply the Consumer Sales practices Act to lease agreements for the exploration for the development  of oil and gas on residential property and to require a surety bond for an injection well.  The bill would also fund a training program including employee training grants to oil or gas well owners.

SB 212, sponsored by Senator Mike Skindell, would establish requirements governing well stimulation, brine disposal, and water that is used in the drilling and operation of oil and gas wells on state land, including a requirement that oil and gas permittees pay a five per cent overriding royalty for each well that is stimulated.

SB 213, also sponsored by Sen. Skindell, would establish a moratorium on horizontal stimulation of oil and gas wells until the USEPA publishes a report containing the results of a study of the relationship of hydraulic fracturing to drinking water resources and the Chief of the Division of Oil and Gas Resources Management issues a report analyzing how Ohio’s rules address issues raised in the USEPA report.

HB 500, sponsored by Rep. Ron Gerberry, would authorize a fee on the recycling of brine from oil and gas operations to benefit local governments.

HB 596, sponsored by Rep. Robert Hagan, would revise the requirements concerning an oil and gas permit application, an oil and gas well completion record, designation of trade secret protection for chemicals used to drill or stimulate and oil and gas well and disclosure of chemical information to a medical professional, require an owner to report all chemicals brought to the well site, and to make other changes in the Oil and Gas Law.

HB 537, also sponsored by Rep. Hagan, would authorize a political subdivision to enact and enforce health and safety standards for oil and gas drilling and exploration and to revise the setback requirements in the Oil and Gas Law.

HB 493, sponsored by Rep. Mark Okey, would establish additional requirements governing wells that are drilled into the Marcellus shale formation or a deeper formation, to establish governing oil and gas land professionals, including the registration of such professionals and the creation of seller of mineral rights and to make other changes in the Oil and Gas Law.

HB 528, sponsored by Rep. John Carney, would require the lessee of an oil and gas lease to provide to the lessor monthly oil and gas production statements, to specify the minimum information that must be included in a monthly statement, and to establish procedures and requirements in accordance with which a lessor may conduct an audit of the lessee’s records and documents related to production or post-production costs under the lease.