COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Ohio regulators in 2012 laid out plans to counter environmental groups and lawmakers opposed to drilling in state parks and forests and looked for support from energy companies and trade associations, which it labeled as allies, according to a copy of a strategy plan released by the state Friday.
The proposed communication plan anticipated that the "eco-left" would try to slant news coverage, incite public panic over health risks and physically halt drilling, according to the plan contained in a document released to The Associated Press.
The agency never followed through with the strategy, Mark Bruce, a spokesman for the Department of Natural Resources, said Friday.
"This was a draft that was used for internal discussions and deliberation," Bruce said. "It is not policy and it was never adopted as policy. It was used for discussion and that was that."
The plan would have sought to generate support from "allied groups" that included Halliburton, state, national and local chambers of commerce, and the Ohio Oil and Gas Association to "minimize" the impact of environmentalists and Democratic state lawmakers.
A 2011 law opened up state parks and other lands in Ohio to oil and gas drilling. The state has seen a surge of drilling in eastern counties as technology makes it easier to reach oil and gas trapped in shale formations.
"When you have the regulator working with those they regulate to silence the voices of those organizations trying to protect the environment, you've got a warped situation," said ProgressOhio executive director Brian Rothenberg. "This isn't how government's supposed to work. It's Nixonian."