Ohio Strengthens Regulatory Staff for Increased Shale Activity

As Ohio moves forward with updated safety-focused oil and gas laws that respond to updates in oil and gas drilling technologies, especially in Ohio's Utica and Marcellus shale formations, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) has begun hiring and training additional field inspectors to ensure shale wells are properly built and operated.

With funds generated by the industry's permit fees, ODNR's Oil and Gas Resources Management Division will add as many as 70 additional employees this year in direct response to increased permitting, inspection and enforcement activities related to shale development. The staff will enforce Ohio's new shale well construction and operation regulations, as well as the state's stringent new ground water protection laws, all of which help protect Ohioans' health and the environment.

"I have personally reached out to my counterparts in other states to learn from their experiences with the growing shale industry, and the lessons we've learned from other states have helped Ohio put in place tough and environmentally-responsible drilling regulations," said ODNR Director James Zehringer.

"These safeguards will not be enough, however, unless we also have the right number of inspectors on the ground with the training to be able to monitor and enforce our new laws and environmental protections," said Zehringer. "A strong regulatory staff at ODNR will enable inspectors to be present at every critical stage of well construction, ensuring these sophisticated structures are built in a manner that protects both our people and ecosystem."

The job duties of a field inspector include: inspecting and reporting on a variety of oil and gas drilling activities in an assigned region; overseeing mechanical integrity testing; collecting water and soil samples; and investigating complaints and violations. ODNR's field inspectors often work non-traditional schedules and participate in a 24/7 on-call rotation schedule.


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