Imagine: You take your children to the park for a leisurely stroll beside some calm lake waters. You're looking for pure, unadulterated nature; an escape from the industrial hullabaloo that is city life. Instead, you find several areas of the park blocked off, occupied by massive machines sucking out shale and oil through the process known as "fracking." According to an investigative report from The Columbus Dispatch, that image might not be far off.
Dispatch found that 18 employees from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) have been working to assess the availability of Utica shale in parks and forests across the state, resources that could eventually be marketed to oil and gas drilling companies. The concentrated push has involved a widespread, coordinated effort to examine public records and assess original mineral rights on Utica shale across the state. In the past, drilling companies have offered as much as $5,000 per acre to landowners in Eastern Ohio to procure mineral rights.
The undertaking potentially signifies ODNR's interest in profiting from fracking sales in the future; cataloging mineral rights means easing the process of selling land to drillers once they make initial offers.
Fracking, the relatively new drilling technology that involves blasting thousands of gallons of water into the earth to fracture shale and free trapped, valuable natural oil and gas. It's been touted as a way to expose previously unavailable areas underground for drilling and has been subject of discussion on its economic value and potential.