Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Much ado about nothing is Kasich's Lake Erie drill ban

PORT CLINTON - This afternoon Ohio Governor John Kasich signed an executive order prohibiting the drilling for oil and natural gas underneath Lake Erie.

It was all done with flamboyance and panache, paraded before a captured audience of state workers, state legislators and a not too small contingent of state outdoors writers.

All were gathered underneath what might be best described as the closest thing Fish Ohio Day has to a Big Top.

The annual event draws together these folks for a morning of walleye fishing in Lake Erie’s Western Basin. This angling is followed by a lunch featuring cold sandwiches and – typically – some hot air provided by the state’s sitting governor and his troupe of appointed second-in-commands.

With Ohio and U.S. flags on his left flank and a stockpile of pens to work with, Kasich proceeded to scribble his signature on the executive order, done all proper and fancy like. He even allowed a couple of Fish Ohio attendees to dot the “I” in Kasich’s name.

“We’re not going to be drilling on Lake Erie or under Lake Erie as a result of this (executive order),” Kasich said to the hand-clapping and approving crowd, most of whom probably weren’t even aware they were watching a darn good shell game artist at work.

Thing was, however, while it made for great political theater the executive order signing was accomplished with virtually little to no expenditure of political capital on Kasich’s part.

The federal government already has said “no” to the drilling for gas and oil underneath Lake Erie.

Even more importantly, so have Ohioans. Whenever a poll is taken on the subject of drilling beneath the waters of Lake Erie the results are such as to send promoters seeking new ground. Like Ohio’s state parks, state forests, state wildlife areas and pretty much anywhere else Kasich figures Texas tea and natural gas can be divined up through hydro-fracturing.

Besides, with the current glut in the oil and gas market no drilling speculator would even want to tread the waters of drilling in Lake Erie.

That Kasich attempted this afternoon to take the high road by preventing what can’t be done anyway is really nothing more than traveling the low road of politics as usual.

A real-deal Fish Ohio Day gesture by Kasich would have included an announcement that he was going after a Lake Erie drilling ban that is written in stone, carved by the full force of legislative initiative.

And if Kasich actually wants to stick his neck out he’d repent of his environmental sins by signing another executive order banning fracking.

Of course that’s not going to happen. Not with Kasich. Not now when he has championed everything from exploiting the energy lying beneath Ohio’s crowned jewels to declaring that Ohio is the Saudi Arabia of coal.

Kasich simply cannot pretend to be something he is not; a born-again environmentalist. That would go against the grain of a governor whose true missionary zeal is that big business comes first, last and always, regardless of  any potential environmental cost.

 -         Jeffrey L. Frischkorn
-         Twitter: @Fieldkorn

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