COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Some environmental groups and eastern Ohio residents say the state is hurrying permits for gas processing plants amid the shale drilling boom.
They say fast-tracking some permit requests and trying too hard to help the operations prevent close examination of local concerns about air and water pollution from refineries and the fracking process that frees the gas. Ohio Environmental Council lobbyist Jack Shaner said the state is putting the industry over its concerned citizens.
"Ohio has bent over backward to accommodate this industry and run roughshod over citizen rights to know and comment on the impact to their air and water quality," he said.
The Columbus Dispatch reports (http://bit.ly/19VPF06 ) that demands for a public hearing in Mahoning County on a processing plant permit application last year were rejected by officials trying to avoid lengthy delays. Instead, the company got its permit in about four months. The Dispatch also reported Sunday that Ohio Environment Protection Agency emails and documents show that the regulators stay aware of company construction schedules as they handle permit requests.
State environmental officials say they are taking the right steps to protect residents and the environment. Operations with major pollution issues undergo much more scrutiny, The Dispatch reported.
"If it goes through our process, we don't think there is going to be any type of health issue associated with it," said Mike Hopkins, assistant chief of air permitting for the Ohio EPA.