New Ohio Law Allows Drilling Where Owners Deny Access

In Ohio, mandatory pooling laws are being abused heavily by drillers. Mandatory pooling laws give the drillers the power to override any landowners who deny access to their property if the landowner’s neighbors agree to the drilling. The landowner who has been overridden still receives payment for the oil taken from his land, but for US Army Veteran Ed Hashbarger, that isn’t the point. Hashbarger contends that the practice violates his constitutional rights, and more importantly to him, his belief in safeguarding the environment.

Supporters of the law contend that its purpose is to prevent what they refer to as “wasteful over-drilling”, basically drilling the same well over and over again, something they liken to sticking multiple straws in the same Coke bottle. This decreases the pressure and reduces the amount someone would get out of a well, while increasing the cost of drilling said well. The laughable thing about this law is that is actually referred to as a “conservation statute”, when it is in fact being used as the exact opposite.

There is a council in place that reviews the mandatory pooling requests, called the Technical Advisory Council, but local citizens say that the council is broken and dominated by oil industry insiders. In fact, six out of the eight council members are there representing oil and gas producers, while there is only one council member each for landowners’ royalties and the public at large. Of the 56 requests since 2009, 43 have been approved, an alarming majority, particularly if a number of cases are similar to that of Mr. Hashbarger. There is another supposed safeguard in the system. After the council makes its decision, the head of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources’ mineral division can deny any judgement it makes, but has only done so twice.

Thankfully, other states that are currently under pressure to enact similar legislation are resisting. While Pennsylvania has been under serious pressure after the explosion of activity around the Marcellus Shale, Governor Tom Corbett, who is often seen as an oil and gas industry stalwart, opposes mandatory pooling, and has likened it to “private eminent domain.” 

The combination of a badly written law and no attempts to change it has resulted in a rather despicable situation in Ohio, where landowners can no longer make decisions about the environmental impact they want taken place on their properties. The money they receive as compensation is irrelevant if they are morally against the concept, an idea that is hard to grasp for oil and gas drillers.

What is the Environmental Sustainability Index and Why is it Important?

Environmental Sustainability Index

In order to understand why the Environmental Sustainability Index is important, we must first explore exactly what the Environmental Sustainability Index is. The Environmental Sustainability Index is also known as ESI. It is a measure of the overall progress towards environmental sustainability. Its purpose is to provide consistency in grading the progress of different nations’ efforts to achieve environmental sustainability relative to the paths of other nations. The ESI was published from1999 to 2005 by Yale University’s Center for Environmental Law and Policy. Other contributors include Columbia University’s Center for International Earth Science Information Network (CIESIN), and World Economic Forum. Before the development of ESI, there was no index like it.

The Environmental Sustainability Index (ESI) was a composite index that tracked 21 elements of environmental sustainability, including natural resource endowments, environmental management efforts, pollution levels and a society’s capacity to improve its environmental performance over time. The ESI tracks a diverse set of environmental, socioeconomic, and institutional indicators that characterize environmental sustainability at the national level. ESI tracks environmental sustainability for over 122 countries. A high (ESI) rank indicates that a country has achieved a high level of environmental sustainability. A low (ESI) rank shows that a country is facing problems achieving environmental sustainability. The ESI consist of five components, including global stewardship, environmental stresses and risks, environmental systems, social institutional capacity and human vulnerability to environmental impacts.

The Importance of the Environmental Sustainability Index 

The Environmental Sustainability Index allows national comparisons of environmental progress in an efficient, systematic and quantitative way. It is the first step towards a more analytical approach to decision making concerning the environment. The ESI is important, because it gives details about a countries ability to be environmentally sustainable. The ESI shows when national environmental results are below or above expectations. It shows areas that are successful or failing. ESI also investigates interactions between environmental and economic performance. It identifies best practices. The Environmental Sustainability Index is also important, because it shows areas of weakness, and areas of needed improvement. One of the most important indicators that ESI can show is the different types of environmental threats. ESI indicates the potential value of improvements regarding environmental sustainability. Environmental sustainability had been an important goal since the Earth Summit in 1992.

In order for ESI to be useful, it must be transparent, systematic and reproducible. It must be applicable to a range of conditions and situations. The Environmental sustainability index will help improve environmental policies across the globe. Nations can use the ESI to focus on their strengths and weakness to increase environmental sustainability.

What is the EPA?

The EPA is the United States Environmental Protection Agency. They are in charge of protecting the health of humans and of the environment. They accomplish this by passing laws and regulations. The EPA came into existence in 1970 under President Nixon. 

The Environmental Protection Agency consists of over 17,000 employees and also many contract people. They have offices all over the country that include laboratories, offices for each region, and the headquarters. The United States is divided into ten different regions with a regional office located in each one. Some of the offices include the administrator’s office, Administration and Resources Management office, Air and Radiation office, and General Counsil office. 

The Environmental Protection Agency has passed legislation including the Topic Substances Control Act in 1976, Safe Drinking Water Act in 1974, Wilderness Act in 1970, Endangered Species Act in 1973 and the Resource Recovery Act in 1970. The EPA is also in charge of many programs such as the Energy Star program, Fuel Economy program, Air Quality program, and the WaterSense program. 

Not only does the Environmental Protection Agency form laws and regulations, but they are also the ones that will enforce these rules. Many of their employees are lawyers, field agents, and legal professionals that are sent out to enforce the laws. The EPA also performs and funds private research to aid in the process of developing laws and regulations to keep people and the environment safe. One of these private programs is the SuperFund, or the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act. It is a site that has toxic wastes and is required to be cleaned up. The EPA will then either clean the site up or will prosecute the people that are responsible for the site. Most of these sites include factories and old warehouses. 

The Environmental Protection Agency, also known as the EPA, is an agency that is in charge of creating and enforcing laws and regulations that help to protect citizens and the environment. These Acts can be dated all the way back to the 1940’s. They cover everything to human actions, air, water, land, endangered species and hazardous waste. With over 17,000 employees, workers on contract, and legal staff, the Environmental Protection Agency is well equipped to enforce the laws and regulations that they pass in order to protect citizens and the environment.

An Overview of Environmental Sustainability

Earth’s resources are finite, and as with anything valuable that has a limited supply, steps must be taken to preserve them. In the context of the environment, the word “sustainability” means “preservation for the benefit of future generations.” The resources will have to be consumed with future needs in mind.

Steps taken to ensure sustainability include the following:

• Reduction of waste
• Limits on consumption
• Choosing alternatives that are reusable or occur in abundance

Sustainability Strategies
The first step to implementing sustainable measures in any environment is to understand how the environment works. The detailed study of an ecosystem will reveal the ways in which resources are produced, harvested or otherwise impacted by humans. A study will also reveal how humans use the resources and how the use affects the environment. The information gathered from such a study allows for a measurement of the strain on a local ecosystem caused by human society, and the rate at which the damage is progressing.

Areas in which such a study is applicable include agriculture, where land may be cleared for the planting of crops. The loss of indigenous species as a result of land-clearing is a major cause of environmental destruction in Third World countries where farming is a major source of food and income for the local population. This means that poverty and the needs of humans have to be taken into account as well. The principles of sustainability involve farming in such a way as to minimize damage to the environment. This may mean planting only those crops for which the need for land-clearing is minimal.

Another area in which the study of humans and their effects on the environment is important is tourism. Tourism is another source of subsistence for local populations, but it also involves an influx of people bringing with them an increase in waste and the consumption of fossil fuels. Land will also be cleared to build hotels and resorts. Studies have shown that the cost of tourism can be far greater than its benefits.

Sustainable tourism involves limiting the damage caused by hotel construction, as well as the refuse and atmospheric pollution produced by tourists. The measures involved in sustainable tourism may include green building and the use of solar energy. The use of recycled products and reusing materials are other ways in which the environmental damage caused by tourism may be mitigated.

Land development for building homes is another way in which humans impact their environment, and this way is not limited to the Third World. As with hotel construction, the measures for making home construction more sustainable involve using recycled construction materials, reusing them where possible, and building only in locations where environmental damage can be minimized.

Informing the public
Once the data has been gathered, the next step is to inform the public and the government so that steps can be taken to address the problems. The goal here is to ensure that from the individual level, all the way up to the implementation of regional and national policy, environmental destruction can be curtailed while still allowing people to live healthy and productive lives.