Democratic gubernatorial candidate Dennis Kucinich on Thursday unveiled a series of proposals designed to bring a complete end to oil and gas drilling in Ohio.
At a news conference in downtown Columbus, the liberal former congressman and presidential candidate said that as governor, he would use eminent domain to acquire and close all existing traditional and fracking-style oil and gas wells in the state. Kucinich pledged to block any new drilling permits and order a statewide injection-well ban.
In addition, Kucinich would direct the Ohio State Highway Patrol to stop, inspect, and turn away vehicles found with fracking waste. The state would offer free health screenings to Ohioans living near fracking sites and collect data with an eye toward filing a class-action lawsuit against fracking companies on the scale of the multi-billion-dollar legal settlement that states reach with tobacco companies 20 years ago.
Asked whether his proposals were unrealistic given that Republicans dominate the state legislature, Kucinich said he has a history of working with conservatives when he served in the state Senate.
“If the governor can’t take a stand for the health and safety of this state, then why even run?” he asked.
Kucinich said he would work to ensure that landowners who have leased land for drilling would receive a separation fee and all royalties they are due. As for the jobs that would be lost from the end of Ohio’s oil and gas industry, Kucinich said Ohio would be in a position to “catch a wave” of alternative-energy development.
Mike Chadsey, a spokesman for the Ohio Oil and Gas Association, said in a statement that Kucinich is “still out of touch,” given the billions invested in and thousands of people working for Ohio’s oil and gas industry.
“For being the person who touts himself as the candidate for the average guy, he sure is anti-worker and anti-union,” Chadsey said. “These bold and unrealistic statements show how desperate his hopeless campaign is.”