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Questionable Fracking Memo Released; State Spokespeople Respond

COLUMBUS (Brooks Jarosz) -- A controversial plan to market fracking in State of Ohio parks and forests is coming under new scrutiny.

Liberal nonprofit, Progress Ohio, says Gov. John Kasichs top adviser called a meeting to sell Ohioans on fracking. That contradicts a statement from Kasichs spokesperson who said Friday the Governors office knew nothing about the plan.

At the center is a 10-page memo from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources. It details the campaign and the need to overcome resistance from environmental groups and enlist supporters of oil and gas development in Ohio.

The regulatory agency [ODNR] is doing a communication plan with the people theyre regulating to silence the people who might have a concern about what those companies are doing, Progress Ohio Executive Director Brian Rothenberg said. I would think, if youre ODNR folks, you would see this is backwards.

The memo acknowledged the campaign could blur the perception of ODNRs regulatory role in oil and gas. Its still unknown whether the meeting ever happened.

Governor Kasich's spokesperson Rob Nichols responded to the claims with the following statement: "I dont know what specific pieces of paper different people saw a year and a half ago, but of course, the administration is going to coordinate and plan ahead on an important issue like gas production on state land." Nichols added, "If we didnt, these same extremist groups would be attacking us for not planning ahead."

ODNR spokesperson Bethany McCorkle also issued a statement, saying: "Any responsible organization plans in advance what it is going to do, especially when it knows it is going to face fierce opposition to progress. The fact that these secretly funded extremest groups are attacking us today validates the wisdom of anticipating the attack and planning for it."

Lawmakers are expected to weigh in during a press conference scheduled for Tuesday at the Ohio Statehouse.
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