"It's an agency that's very existence relies on the industry it regulates."
Activists question whether the agency can impartially conduct the investigation ordered by Kasich into whether potentially lax regulations led to the dumping incident alleged by federal prosecutors.
"We don't believe the agency responsible for the lack of enforcement should be conducting an investigation of itself," said Cheryl Johncox, director of the Buckeye Forest Council.
A message seeking comment was left Monday for the spokeswoman for the Natural Resources Department.
The department and Ohio EPA permanently revoked the permits of D&L Energy and Hardrock Excavating after investigators observed employees dumping unknown quantities of a mixture of oil and chemically laced brine into a storm sewer Jan. 31.
ProgressOhio Executive Director Brian Rothenberg said a vigilant regulatory program is imperative because Ohio law does not allow the general public to know exactly what chemicals are being used to fracture shale formations to extract oil, gas and natural gas liquids.
Some of that wastewater is disposed into the deep wells, and some is making its way to Ohio landfills and natural waters.
The Kasich administration's pending budget bill includes proposals for a host of new testing, reporting and tracking requirements involving contaminated solid wastes from drilling.
Planned changes would require drilling companies to test drilling muds, dirt and rock for radioactivity that hasn't occurred naturally and to share that information with landfills before the waste is accepted. The legislation also sets thresholds for what concentrations of technologically enhanced radioactive material that could be disposed.