Decide to open state parks and forests to oil and gas drilling by hydraulic fracturing, and a governor is going face aggressive opposition. So, it hardly surprises that John Kasich and aides develop a full “communication plan” for defending the proposed policy.
No surprise, either, that the memo cited the challenge of meeting “zealous resistance by environmental activist opponents, who are skilled propagandists” (original italics). Policymaking features a heavy component of the adversarial.
So, much of the memo is politics as usual, and something far short of scandalous. More, the governor’s office did not implement the plan. Thankfully, it backed off the drilling, in part, by failing to appoint members to a commission with the task of examining how to go forward.
That said, two things are more troubling. When first asked by the Columbus Dispatch about the plan, the governor’s spokesman said the office knew nothing about it. Then, the memo surfaced, and the response changed, the episode eroding a bit more the office’s credibility.
Next, the memo warned the plan “could blur public perception” about the state’s role in regulating the oil and gas industry. Regulatory independence must be protected, especially when the state provides virtually all of the oversight.