Excerpts of recent editorials of statewide and national interest from Ohio newspapers:
The (Cleveland) Plain Dealer, March 18
Gov. John Kasich's administration has fashioned new and apparently tough regulations governing injection of drilling wastes into deep disposal wells.
Impelling the proposal were earthquakes in Northeast Ohio probably caused by brine injections into such a well near Youngstown. A Natural Resources Department spokesman told the Associated Press that waste injected into the well "lubricated a previous unmapped (earthquake) fault" and contributed to seismic activity. ...
The additional regulations, announced March 9 by state Natural Resources Director James Zehringer, would, among other features, ban the drilling of new Class II disposal wells within areas of Ohio known to be underlain with geological faults. The new rules also would require pressure monitors on wells, automatic shut-off devices and tracking all the fluids dumped in a given well.
The rules seem reasonable, though they may not prove sufficient: Continuing studies could compel even tighter regulation. Meanwhile, oil and gas exploration in Ohio and Pennsylvania is likely to require more, not fewer, waste-disposal wells. ...
Given all of that, Kasich and the General Assembly must also restore funding for the Ohio Geological Survey's seismic monitoring. It's important that Ohioans fully understand the effects of drilling and waste disposal on Ohio's natural foundation.
Akron Beacon Journal, March 18
On Wednesday, 74 senators, Republicans and Democrats, joined together in a real accomplishment. They approved a two-year, $109 billion transportation bill .... Authorization for federal highway spending ends on March 31. Without action, construction, repair and maintenance will halt across the country.
Which has put pressure on the House. The Republican majority had big plans for its transportation bill, looking, appropriately, at a five-year spending plan. Unfortunately, Republicans included many misguided provisions, including a proposal to end the long-established routing of a portion of highway trust funds to public transit. ...
What will the House do? It should take the cue of the Senate, and quickly approve the legislation that won bipartisan support.
The Senate bill has many appealing aspects. It protects the money for public transit. It consolidates 196 transportation programs to a dozen or so .... It requires spending at least 60 percent of the money on highway repair, a more efficient and effective investment.
Since 2009, and the expiration of the previous transportation bill (signed in 2005), Congress has approved eight temporary measures. Passage of the Senate bill would avoid an embarrassing ninth. ... The need is real. Borrowing is relatively cheap. So are materials. Heavy unemployment afflicts the construction industry. The overall economy could use the bolstering.
All of this isn't to overlook the flaws in the Senate legislation. Most striking is the failure to deal with a Highway Trust Fund on a path to going broke by 2014. The reasons for the funding troubles are plain, Americans driving less and often at the wheel of more fuel-efficient cars, diminishing the level of gas tax revenues flowing to the fund. ...
Rather than raise the gas tax, at 18.4 cents since the early 1990s, the Senate applied an assortment of gimmicks and diversions to patch funding shortfalls. ...
So a big job looms for Congress. What can be achieved now? Surely, enough House Republicans and Democrats can recognize what is possible, and give their approval soon to a Senate bill that is much better than another temporary measure.
The Marietta Times, March 16
With oil prices soaring and gasoline expected to hit the $4 to $5 per gallon mark this spring and summer, it makes sense for companies to continue to explore how best to use natural gas to help fuel the nation's vehicles.
A new partnership announced last week between Chesapeake Energy and General Electric to provide 250 modular "CNG in a Box" stations appears to be a step in the right direction.
CNG stands for compressed natural gas, and currently is used to power more than 12 million vehicles worldwide -- 110,000 of which are in the U.S. ...
What Chesapeake and GE are planning to do is tap into the nation's vast natural gas reserves, particularly here in the local region with the Marcellus and Utica shales. The companies would make their "CNG in a Box" available to local filling stations by tapping into a nearby natural gas pipeline. ...
The availability of CNG fueled vehicles is a problem, as currently there is only one factory-built CNG vehicle available in the U.S. -- the Honda Civic. U.S. carmakers are working to address this ....
It's also time for local governments to consider converting at least a portion of their fleets to natural gas.
While it's good to see that compressed natural gas as an alternative to oil is gaining traction, that could change in an instant if oil prices drop. That has happened several times over the past few years, when alternatives to foreign oil such as gasoline made from coal have started to gain traction.
Given the fluctuation of global oil prices, it's imperative for the nation that an alternative be found.
The (Findlay) Courier, March 13
Driving in the wrong direction, on a divided highway, at high speed, at night, almost always turns out badly.
A worst-case scenario unfolded March 2 when a disoriented woman went the wrong way on the northbound side of Interstate 75 and collided with a car carrying five Bowling Green State University students who were on spring break.
Three of the students died along with the wrong-way driver. ...
Unfortunately, accidents involving wrong-way drivers have become all too common in northwestern Ohio lately. ...
Officials say wrong-way incidents generally occur when someone simply isn't paying attention, or becomes disoriented due to age, medical condition, being in an unfamiliar area, or because of drug or alcohol use.
The majority of wrong-way accidents take place at night or in bad weather, when lighting or visibility is poor. ...
While the recent accidents are troubling, stopping future ones won't be easy.
Most exit ramps, where drivers often improperly enter highways, already have signs that warn: "Do Not Enter" and "Wrong Way."
But, in some locations, the signs may be placed too near an interchange or too high off the ground, making them easy to miss, especially at night.
Some places are now using larger or overhead signs or placing them in several locations instead of just one.
Others use a combination of electronic signs and roadway markings to get wayward drivers' attention. Some have in-pavement warning lights.
Perhaps technology will help. Sensors can be attached to signs to detect wrong-way movement and activate flashing warning lights. Some car manufacturers are using car navigation systems to warn drivers who are about to enter a road in the wrong direction.
Many states, meanwhile, design and construct new interchanges to minimize driver confusion.
Any upgrades, of course, are costly, but would be a good investment. Six people have died in this area in wrong-way accidents this month alone. Statistics suggest more than 350 will die in such crashes nationwide this year.
Every effort should be made to keep motorists going in the right direction.