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The Associated Press May 25, 2011, 5:35PM ET

Ohio House approves drilling in state parks

The Ohio House has passed a bill that would open state forests, parks and wildlife areas to oil and gas drilling.

The Republican-led chamber cleared the bill 54-41 on Wednesday and sent it to the Ohio Senate. It creates a new commission to oversee oil and gas leases on state lands.

Democrats blasted the bill as environmental activists present in the chamber cheered. Amendments that would have limited or banned drilling in parks were rejected.

Leases could generate $9 million for the state. The money would be re-invested in parks.

The bill's Republican supporters disputed Democratic arguments that industrial development would harm groundwater, animals and scenic vistas and jeopardize state recreation dollars. They argued drilling can be done safely and will create jobs and reduce dependence on foreign oil.

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