Last updated: September 06. 2013 11:51AM - 100 Views

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COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) The Ohio House planned Wednesday to take up a bill that would open state forests, parks and wildlife areas to oil and gas exploration.

The legislation would create an Oil and Gas Leasing Commission that would oversee the lease of state lands for developing oil and natural gas resources.

The National Wildlife Federation, Sierra Club, Ohio Environmental Council and other opponents contend such industrial development could harm groundwater, animals and scenic vistas. They are hoping to pack the viewing gallery in the House chamber during Wednesday's vote.

The bill's supporters say new techniques make drilling safer for the environment and wildlife. Leases could generate $9 million for the state.

The measure cleared a House committee along party lines Tuesday after 16 Democratic amendments to limit drilling were rejected.

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