Ohio Governor Candidate Plans to End Oil and Gas Drilling
Ohio Governor Candidate Plans to End Oil and Gas Drilling
United States Environmental Politics and Policy, Dr. Bullock
Oil fracking, the process of penetrating sedimentary rocks to unlock the gasses underneath, is a polarizing topic in environmental politics, and the dramatic Ohio Governor race is certainly proving this to be true. On January 25th, Democrat Dennis Kucinich, a former US Representative and presidential candidate said, if elected Governor, he’d use his power to end oil fracking in Ohio completely through eminent domain, closing down all existing fracking locations and blocking future drilling permits in the process (Brown 2018). Oil fracking is worth over $100 million annually in Ohio, and with the recent introduction of “horizontal” oil fracking, an even riskier form of digging, Ohio has seen unprecedented levels of harmful air emissions, so much so that the Ohio Environmental Council admits Ohio laws haven’t kept up with the evolving technology (RGA News 2018). Kucinich identifies himself as a Green Democrat, and his values seem to lie in sustainable development to ensure environmental justice. The issue for Kucinich, however, lies in the fact that oil fracking is the source of jobs for many middle-class workers in Ohio. Thus, he has drawn much criticism from various stakeholders over the past week, including other Democratic candidates, Republican candidates, those who work in the oil industry, as well as the general public. Ultimately, the most interested and proximate stakeholder is the oil industry, although fellow candidates and the general public have political power and a generally negative attitude towards Kucinich’s plans as well, suggesting Kucinich’s campaign faces serious challenges.
Kucinich not only denounced fracking, but also the fracking companies themselves that, he believes, are not taking full responsibility of their actions. “No longer will the industry be able to hide behind the false label of proprietary to experiment with toxic chemicals and biocides, and use them without traceability and responsibility for the health and environmental impacts on the state of Ohio”, he said last Thursday (Pelzer 2018). His running mate, Tara Samples, also added that this is an issue of environmental justice, reasoning that it is the poor who suffer the most as it is they who tend to live closest to these fracking locations (Brown 2018). In regard to the thousands of jobs that would be lost with this legislation, Kucinich is convinced that Ohio will “catch the wave” of alternative-energy development, although he seemed less than certain on what exactly this entailed (Pelzer 2018).
Kucinich has received attention from candidates from both parties this week. Multiple Democrats and Republicans running alongside Kucinich, even those who consider themselves as environmentalists, responded negatively to Kucinich’s plan. Some argued that ending fracking in Ohio was “naïve”, claiming there will be too much red tape to get through in terms of legal battles and tax adjustments. State Senator Joe Schiavoni offered a slightly more moderate response by suggesting that fracking was essential to the job industry in Ohio, but the state could certainly be more transparent with the EPA (Pelzer 2018). As stakeholders, these Democrats and Republicans are certainly conscious of what voters want to hear, and it seems, based on their response, that a more moderate stance on this issue is favored. These candidates are powerful and proximate in this situation, as they can shift public opinion with their statements, and they can also set the agenda in congress to address many of the issues that Kucinich aims to ameliorate. Kucinich’s running mates are particularly interested in the issue, as it presents an opportunity to make their own, mostly negative, attitudes about fracking clear to the public.
The biggest, and certainly the most proximate, stakeholders are those affiliated with the oil industry in Ohio, and it was from them that Kucinich received the biggest pushback. For them, Kucinich’s plans can mean unemployment, relocation, or permanent job loss. Mike Chadsey, a spokesman for the Ohio Oil and Gas Association, certainly let his feelings be known. “For being the person who touts himself as the candidate for the average guy, he sure is anti-worker and anti-union,” Chadsey said. “These bold and unrealistic statements show how desperate his hopeless campaign is” (Pelzer 2018). This comes as no surprise, considering there are over 200,000 jobs in the Ohio oil industry (Brown 2018). If Kucinich were to succeed with his plans, many workers would be jobless, at least temporarily, and those like Chadsey recognize that this possibility is dangerous to the middle-class. The oil industry is clearly interested in the issue, and has made its negative attitudes toward Kucinich clear, but its downfall might just be its lack of true, political power. Although it’s certainly possible that wealthy CEOs are whispering in the ear of Ohio politicians, it seems the oil industry is at the mercy of the voter’s decision. If Kucinich is to win, it all but guarantees massive unemployment for the Ohio oil sector.
In the end, there’s truly only one sector of stakeholders that matters: the voters. Perhaps it is they who are the most powerful stakeholder, as they decide who comes out on top on the ballot. They are proximate in terms of their ability to influence results, but the extent to which they will be affected by the outcome is uncertain and variable. As of now, Kucinich trails Richard Cordray by nearly 7%, which might tell us the attitude and degree of interest of current Ohio voters towards Kucinich, although there still remains plenty of time (RGA News 2018). Even if he were to win, the Ohio legislature is dominated by Republicans, a fact that sparks doubt as to whether his plans will realistically be achieved. In response to this claim, Kucinich seemed confident, saying “”If the governor can’t take a stand for the health and safety of this state, then why even run?”. Various stakeholders seemed determined to undermine Kucinich’s proposal, but it is certain that the Ohio Governor election will prove critical for the future of energy development, for better or for worse.
“On my honor, I have neither given nor received unauthorized information regarding this work, I have followed and will continue to observe all regulations regarding it, and I am unaware of any violation of the Honor Code by others.
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Radio, 25 Jan. 2018, radio.wosu.org/post/Kucinich-would-move-end-drilling-ohio-if-
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