Recent legislation approved by the Ohio legislature redefines natural gas as “green energy” and broadens producers’ ability to drill in state parks and forests.
Gov. Mike DeWine signed H.B. 507 that added the natural gas provisions to a bill originally focused on poultry but that was expanded to be catch-all on one of the last session days of 2022.
While a 2011 law gave state agencies the authority to lease state land for oil and gas drilling, it did not require it. The new legislation will require agencies to agree to a lease if it meets certain conditions, such as financial assurances and proof of registration.
The legislation also defines green energy as “energy generated by using an energy resource that meets certain emissions and sustainability requirements, including energy generated by using natural gas,” an analysis indicates. It also prohibits energy generated from natural gas from being eligible for renewable energy credits.
Green energy has typically been thought of as being produced from renewable energy sources. The National Resources Defense Council defines it as coming “from natural sources or processes that are constantly replenished. For example, sunlight and wind keep shining and blowing, even if their availability depends on time and weather.”
The federal Environmental Protection Agency defines green power as “a subset of renewable energy and represents those renewable energy resources and technologies that provide the highest environmental benefit. EPA defines green power as electricity produced from solar, wind, geothermal, biogas, eligible biomass, and low-impact small hydroelectric sources. Customers often buy green power for its zero emissions profile and carbon footprint reduction benefits.”
Natural gas is a fossil fuel that is primarily methane, a potent greenhouse gas. It is cleaner than burning coal for electricity production, generating less than half the carbon dioxide emissions per kilowatt hour, but still contributes to CO2 levels in the atmosphere.
Environmental advocates blasted the legislation as industry-friendly misinformation. Ohio Oil and Gas Association President Rob Brundrett said in a statement that, “This legislation will help Ohio maintain and expand its position as a national leader in safely and efficiently developing natural gas and oil resources.”
Ohio is the seventh-largest gas producing state in the U.S., according to the Energy Information Agency, with much of its growing output coming from unconventional, hydraulically fractured wells in the Utica Shale.