COLUMBUS, OH – Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) Director James Zehringer announced today the appointment of Richard J. Simmers to Chief of the Division of Oil and Gas Resources Management.
“Rick’s extensive experience in field enforcement issues and previous management roles are going to be invaluable to him as chief of the newly created Division of Oil and Gas Resources Management,” said Zehringer. “I am confident that he will be a great leader for his staff and provide strong oversight of Ohio’s oil and gas industry.”
Simmers will be responsible for enforcing Ohio’s laws related to oil and gas drilling, production, plugging, orphan wells, solution mining, enhanced recovery, gas storage and underground injection control operations. The division employs about 70 employees, nearly half are field inspectors.
“Leading the Division of Oil and Gas Resources Management is an honor,” said Simmers. “As chief, my goal will be to effectively and fairly regulate the industry and, above all else, ensure that public safety and protection of the environment are foremost.”
An ODNR career employee of 26 years, Simmers began working for the Oil and Gas Program in 1985 as a staff geologist and ground water investigator. In 1987 he was promoted to Northeast Ohio enforcement administrator for 19 counties. From 1994 to 1996, Simmers also served as acting Chief for the Division of Oil and Gas. When the division merged with the Reclamation program to become the Division of Mineral Resources Management in 2000, Simmers assumed responsibility for supervising all field enforcement activities across the state.
Simmers earned both a Master of Science degree and bachelor’s degree in Geology from the University of Akron. He also holds a bachelor’s degree in Biology from the University of Akron.
Currently serving as Ohio’s representative to the Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission, Simmers has also served on the Ground Water Protection Council.
Simmers resides in Stark County.
The ODNR ensures a balance between wise use and protection of our natural resources for the benefit of all. Visit the ODNR Web site at ohiodnr.com.