Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Environmentalists cautious about Mustine's departure as ODNR head

The Ohio Environmental Council, one of state’s leading pro-environmental organizations, is not surprised that David Mustine is leaving Ohio's top natural resources post for one more closely aligned with his pro-oil development background.

It was announced today by Gov. John Kasich that Mustine is no longer the director of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources. Instead, Mustine is being placed in a newly created position with JobsOhio to oversee energy development efforts.

It was a natural move, says Jack Shaner, spokesman for the Council, and who stopped well short of saying that Mustine is simply the same fox but who will be guarding a different hen house.

“Governor Kasich apparently continues to emphasize oil and gas as part of his energy policy and how important he believes it is to Ohio’s future,” Shaner said. “He clearly has a well seasoned man in charge there.”

Shaner said also that he has no feelings one way or the other about Mustine’s new role, noting that Kasich has long made it known “that he’ll drill whenever and wherever he can.”

“Our sense was that David Mustine was intensely concerned about oil and gas and left everything else to others so this could be an appropriate move,” Shaner said.
“We wish David Mustine the best of success.”

As far as Scott Zody being appointed as the Natural Resources Department’s interim director, that “is a good move,” says Shaner.

Zody had been the Natural Resources Department’s assistant director until his step up was announced today.

“Scott is well seasoned and should help move the department forward,” Shaner said. “It looks like it is steady as she goes without any big policy changes.”

Even so, says Shaner, policy trumps politician or bureaucrat. Whoever is in charge of an agency overseeing the state’s natural wealth will play back bencher to issues of environmental importance, Shaner says.

“We certainly butted heads over drilling on state park lands since that was a poor policy choice,” Shaner said of the position taken by Mustine and by proxy, Zody.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

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