It was the SCPR's good fortune to get an interview with Representative J. Kirk Schuring (R - 51st House District) at last night's meeting in Plain Township (sponsored by Trustee Louis Giavasis, Schuring and WHBC's Ron Ponder - Points to Ponder.
A couple of important points made by Representative Schuring: (be sure to see the video at the end of this blog)
- Local control of oil and natural gas exploration is gone forever.
- It's too early to tell the degree to which the state of Ohio is going to make local government funding cuts.
His first point has to be a disappointment to the likes of Councilwoman Mary Cirelli of Canton, Trustee Louis Giavasis of Plain Township and citizen activist Christine Borello (Concerned Citizens of Stark County).
Cirelli, Giavasis and Borello have been leading Stark County proponents of local government measures to slow, if not stop, oil and gas exploration which involves a new emerging process known as horizontal fracking. Horizontal fracking is used to get to deep natural gas deposits trapped in rock thousands (about 8,000 in the case of the Marcellus shale) and involves high pressure injection of sand and chemicals along a horizontal corridor of varying lengths which takes off at the end of a vertical drill.
Cirelli is trying to get Canton law director Joe Martuccio to come up with legislation to control drilling in Canton. Giavasis has a proposal (currently tabled) for Plain Township on tap.
The Report believes that Schuring has it right (in political terms) that Ohio localities will never again have control of oil and gas exploration.
Moreover, the SCPR believes that in an ironical sort of way, Ohio Republican legislators and executives (i.e. the governor and his department heads: who have a strong bias for local government) will be the handmaidens of taking away much of local citizens' control over their lives.
One would expect centralized planning and control of many Democratic leadership, but Republicans?
On another front, Schuring and his fellows in the Ohio General Assembly have a huge problem in justifying and implementing (via legislation on the Fiscal Year 2012-13 state budget) what the SCPR believes will be huge cuts in state funding of local government.
What this means to local government officials (trustees, city/village councilpersons and mayors) is that they will have to make commensurate cuts in local government services and thereby be the recipients of the ire of their friends and neighbors whom they rub shoulders with day-in and day-out.
Alternatively, they are faced with the prospect of recommending increase in local taxes.
Ohio is 9th of the 50 states in terms of being the highest taxed at the local government level.
Here is Representative Schuring speaking about local government "non-control" of oil and gas exploration and what the future may hold for local government funding.