COLUMBUS, Ohio (WKBN) – It didn’t take long before the meeting of Ohio’s Oil and Gas Land Management Commission in Columbus took a turn as a protester dumped a bag full of money on the floor.
The action brought a rebuke from Chariman Ryan Richardson.
“If we cannot be respectful and allow the meeting to continue, we will have no choice but to ask people to leave,” Richardson said.
The commission was meeting to decide whether or not to permit oil and gas companies to lease state property for energy exploration. One of the areas being considered is the Zeppernick Wildlife Area in Columbiana County near Hanoverton. Sixty-six acres there could be leased for oil and gas exploration.
At one point, protesters held up a sign opposing fracking on state lands, which led to a brief recess. That cut off the livestream of the meeting. When the session resumed, the protests did, too.
“Deny every single parcel,” they yelled.
Despite the demonstration, local officials say they haven’t heard any protests, locally.
“It’s pretty well known that we’re open for business as it relates to oil and gas in our county,” said Commissioner Mike Halleck.
In the end, the commission unanimously allowed the leases to go forward, even though protesters tried to shout over the vote.
“Fracking kills, fracking kills,” they chanted.
The state will now start accepting bids from potential drilling companies after the first of the year.