Editorials from around Ohio
By Robert Treynor
Excerpts of recent editorials of statewide and national interest from Ohio newspapers:
The (Cleveland) Plain Dealer, Feb. 21
The Ohio Department of Natural Resources and Gov. John Kasich’s attempt to serve two masters at one time ought to spur investigation into how oil and gas drilling is being regulated in Ohio.
Ohioans need to know who directed ODNR, the state’s chief regulatory body for drilling, to create a public campaign in 2012 to target opponents and rally Ohioans around hydraulic fracturing and drilling in Ohio’s state parks — and to what extent the plan influenced ODNR in its subsequent oversight of fracking.
The ODNR PR plan came to light a week ago after The Columbus Dispatch reported on it… Another PR stumble followed: Rob Nichols, Kasich’s spokesman, had to retract his statement that the Kasich administration knew nothing about the 2012 plan after an email released by the liberal group ProgressOhio revealed that members of the Kasich administration had sought a meeting in August 2012 with ODNR to talk about the communications plan and other issues….
The Plain Dealer editorial board had endorsed the law to allow drilling in state parks as long as there was no drilling on sensitive or scenic lands, arguing, in part, that it could help pay for millions of dollars of deferred park maintenance.
However, it ought to be patently obvious that a drilling regulator has no business writing a pro-drilling campaign. And it’s alarming that ODNR and the governor’s office appeared more interested in discrediting opponents than making sure that frackers were operating safely and within the law.
The (Toledo) Blade, Feb. 24
Once in a great while, a bill so obviously good comes along that not even one member of the Ohio Senate can reasonably oppose it. Such is the case with a lifesaving measure that would vastly expand the use of naloxone to reduce fatal opioid overdoses, including those caused by heroin, oxycodone, and hydrocodone.
Last week, senators unanimously approved the bill, which goes back to the House. Representatives should approve it, and Gov. John Kasich should sign it.
The bill aims to reduce Ohio’s record number of fatal overdoses from heroin and prescription painkillers — now the state’s leading cause of accidental death, surpassing car crashes. It would allow licensed prescribers to provide naloxone, known by the trade name Narcan, to an addict’s friends or family members….
Naloxone can be simply administered with a nasal spray to reverse the effects of a drug overdose. Approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, naloxone blocks heroin or prescription pain drugs from binding to receptors in the brain and stopping a person’s breathing. It has no effect on someone who has not taken opiates….
The only argument against expanding naloxone use is that it could enable opiate abusers to keep using. That’s nonsense, and cruel to boot….
Expanded use of naloxone won’t eradicate Ohio’s opiate epidemic. But it will save hundreds, maybe thousands, of lives and nudge people into treatment. That’s a no-brainer, even for state lawmakers.
The (Tiffin) Advertiser-Tribune, Feb. 21
How would you react if your bank gave you an open-ended credit limit — and assured you that within a year or so, no matter how much you had borrowed in the interim, it would be increased?
Banks don’t do that because their executives are well aware of what would happen. But Congress does.
President Barack Obama has signed into law a measure passed by both houses of Congress…, to increase the national debt limit. Already, we Americans are $17.3 trillion in debt - about $50,500 for every man, woman and child in the country. About $6.6 trillion of that has been run up during Obama’s presidency, by the way.
Congress could have set a new debt limit by specifying a dollar amount, as your credit card company does. Instead, however, lawmakers approved a bill stating, in effect, that the government can borrow as much as it wants until March 16, 2015. Sometime before then, a new date, farther into the future, will be set.
Good heavens. No wonder we’re drowning in a sea of debt. Congress and presidents, Democrat and Republican, keep handing themselves blank checks.
Steubenville Herald-Star, Feb. 18
Time is running out for about 1,000 men and women who worked at the Ormet aluminum plant until last fall. If Ohio legislators and Gov. John Kasich can give them a fighting chance to save their company, that should be done.
Ormet officials had sought Public Utilities Commission of Ohio approval of electric rates the company contended were needed to keep it in business. But last fall, the PUCO, while agreeing to a break on rates American Electric Power (NYSE:AEP) charges Ormet, failed to go down to the level sought by the firm.
That happened in October. Within days, Ormet announced the Hannibal plant would close.
Failure to obtain the requested power rates also torpedoed a potential deal with a Minnesota company that had considered buying Ormet and taking it out of bankruptcy.
Ormet workers asked Kasich to intervene, but he pointed out he has no authority to change a PUCO order.
Now, state Rep. Jack Cera, D-Bellaire, has introduced a bill that would allow Kasich to step in.
The idea is for Kasich to order the PUCO to allow Ormet to get out of its contract with AEP and buy electricity on the open market. Company officials think they can obtain rates that would allow the aluminum mill to stay in operation.
That would not force AEP to cut rates to Ormet, but would, in effect, merely allow the company to shop around for a better deal on electricity.
Lawmakers should approve the bill and Kasich should take the requested action — immediately.
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