The Ohio Farmers Union is providing testimony on two bills this week:
Sub. H.B. 490 – the large, catch-all bill which began life as part of Gov. John Kasich’s Mid Biennium Review package of legislation meant to make budget adjustments. The bill covers both the Ohio Dept. of Agriculture and Ohio Dept. of Natural Resources areas of governmental responsibility. OFU has taken an “interested-party” position, due to the large number of subjects covered in the bill. OFU has told legislators it is supportive of tightened regulations on saline injection – or frack water disposal – wells. The bill also creates a path toward ODNR being able to provide first responders information about the chemicals being used at an oil or gas drilling site in the event of an accident. That language is rather nebulous, however, leaving it to ODNR management to implement. This issue will bear watching if 490 moves on through the Senate and to the governor’s desk.
OFU suggested in testimony by President Joe Logan some potential additions to the parts of the bill regarding nutrient management. Working with the Ohio Environmental Council, OFU is seeking amendments which would allow the state to aggregate and analyze data from nutrient management and manure management plans to get watershed-wide views of manure and chemical fertilizer sales/production/use.
S.B. 296 – is sponsored by State Sen. Cliff Hite, R-Findlay, and is supported by Ohio Farmers Union. A main provision of the bill provides that retail filling station operators are not responsible for mistakes customers make in putting the wrong fuel in their vehicles. (So long as the pumps are clearly marked and the station is in compliance with all other laws and regulations.) Ohio’s ethanol producers have urged farmers to support this because some filling station operators have refused to provide E85 or other fuel choices because they say customers may not pay attention while fueling, unintentionally pump the wrong fuel into their vehicle and then sue the station for damages. Ohio Farmers Union testimony was provided by OFU Treasurer Roger Wise.