Save Ohio Parks speakers call for end to dark money, gerrymandering


Save Ohio Parks speakers call for end to dark money, gerrymandering

Political corruption and lack of accountability in the statehouse today are reasons Ohio’s Republican Party supermajority legislators are considering despoiling Ohio’s state parks by fracking, said David Pepper, Cincinnati political activist and author, at a recent Columbus rally.

Dark money led to “safe” gerrymandered voting districts, where some politicians have never been adequately challenged for re-election, he told about 100 people attending the Save Ohio Parks-sponsored “Rally for State Parks, Climate and Democracy” on Oct. 27.

“We’re living in Ohio, but it’s happening around the nation,” said Pepper. “All the incentives are turned upside down; the incentive to serve the people goes away, because you get re-elected no matter how bad a job you do, no matter how poor the schools are … no matter how much you screw up the Ohio parks.”

What dark money has given Ohio politicians is an incentive to keep private players happy, and what do the private players want?

“Public stuff,” said Pepper. “They want the public school dollars; they want the revenues they can get out of public parks … they are literally taking our (taxpayer) dollars and giving them to private players through their “legislation” — through the corruption of public service. And a trickle of that comes back to them for campaigns. That’s the broken system.”

Bob Brecha, University of Dayton’s Hanley Sustainability Program director, said the fossil fuels industry has tried to control the narrative about our energy system, but is becoming more desperate as it sees its place become less certain in our more sustainable energy future.

“The signs of climate change are becoming clearer each year,” said Brecha. “We now understand that every fraction of a degree of warming we can prevent will avoid great damage for future generations.”

To achieve the 1.5°C warming target the Paris Agreement calls for, no new fossil fuel exploration and projects are needed, he added.  And that includes any projects that endanger our state parks in the name of short-term gain for a very few people.

“China now generates about twice as much renewable electricity as the U.S.,” said Brecha. “What’s more, helping drive that growth forward is the fact that solar energy has decreased in cost by about 90 percent in the past decade or so. Now, in most places in the world, solar and wind power are the cheapest options for electricity. This is truly a remarkable turnaround too few people are aware of.”

Brecha said in Norway, for example, 90 percent of new vehicles are electric. The United States is at 8 percent. The European Union is at 20 percent, and China is near 30 percent of sales.

“All of these are increases from just a couple of percent less than a decade ago.  What this means is that we are very close to a tipping point in the auto industry,” he said.

Those two technologies — EVs and photovoltaics — are actually on a pathway consistent with meeting the Paris Agreement 1.5°C target, he said.

Other rally speakers included Rep. Mary Lightbody (D-District 4); Catherine Turcer of Common Cause; Joe Blanda, M.D., of Physicians for Social Responsibility; Randi Pokladnik, Ph.D., of Save Ohio Parks; Jessica Grim of Third Act Ohio; Molly Jo Stanley of Ohio Environmental Council; and Judy Comeau-Hart of Faith Communities Acting Together for a Sustainable Future (FaCT).

The rally featured music by by local singer-songwriter, preschool teacher, and nature advocate Jenny Morgan, and was emceed by Central Ohio environmental advocate Cathy Cowan Becker.

Speech videos are posted on YouTube under Save Ohio Parks and speaker names. Carolyn Harding of Grassroot Ohio acted as event videographer.

The Ohio Department of Natural Resources’ Oil and Gas Land Management Commission is expected to decide to approve or deny fracking under Ohio state parks, forests, wildlife areas and other public lands sometime in November. Emails on fracking can be sent to:

For more information about fracking under Ohio state parks and public lands, visit

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