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Ohio laws must protect roads as shale boom hits

April 24, 2012
Salem News

A major concern of many West Virginians and Pennsylvanians concerning the current natural gas drilling boom has been the condition of rural roads. Ohioans should not have to worry about that.

The bigger gas companies, including Chesapeake Energy, have been conscientious about repairing road damage caused by their heavy trucks. Both West Virginia and Pennsylvania have toughened requirements for road repair by drillers.

Ohio does not have demanding, formal rules in place - yet. But they may be on the way, as we reported this week.

Ohio Department of Transportation and state Department of Natural Resources officials have developed agreements for use by township and county highway departments. In essence, the pacts require drilling companies to ensure that if roads are damaged by heavy trucks, they be restored to good condition. Bonding mandates are included to ensure that happens.

A few larger gas companies already have entered into such agreements voluntarily, the ODOT and ODNR officials said. But they are asking the state General Assembly to write the requirement into law. If that happens, drilling companies would not receive permits for wells without showing they have signed such agreements or made good-faith efforts to do so.

Legislators should waste no time in approving a law to that effect. As Gov. John Kasich has said, Ohioans should benefit, not suffer, from the gas boom.



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