Appalachian Basin

Energy Exploration a Top Priority

Whether it’s at home in the 20th Senate District or doing the people’s work down in Columbus, I am often approached by Ohioans of all ages concerned with the escalating cost of energy.  From gasoline for our cars, to natural gas for our furnaces, to electricity for our lights, the rising costs of these bills continue to create pressure on the average household.

In hopes of alleviating this added economic strain on Ohio’s families, I have made energy exploration a top priority for my office.  As the newly-appointed Vice Chairman of the Senate Committee on Energy and Public Utilities, I am committed to finding ways to create more competition in the market and to ease consumer costs.  Perhaps there is no better way to achieve this than by uncovering more sources of energy here in Ohio, so that we can provide greater relief to our friends and neighbors who have been impacted by the unfortunate economic climate.

I know that there remain detractors who claim that exploration for oil and natural gas in our state is irresponsible.  However, it would be truly irresponsible and reprehensible to ignore any possible solutions at a time when so many of our families struggle to pay their monthly bills.

To fully understand the economic potential of shale development in Ohio, we only need to turn to a series of recent reports illustrating the economic impact of developing the Marcellus Shale in Pennsylvania. These reports found that in 2010, Marcellus natural gas development in Pennsylvania generated $11.2 billion in economic development benefits, contributed $1.1 billion in state and local tax revenues and supported nearly 140,000 jobs.

If shale exploration is to lead to positive returns, many different entities and constituencies stand to reap the benefits. In fact, we are already noticing new economic development opportunities in connection to recent exploration. In March, for example, a tubular steel producer announced it will add a second pipe-threading line at its Brookfield, Ohio facility to meet the growing demand in the Marcellus shale field.  In 2010, V&M Star in Youngstown announced that it would build a new $650 million rolling mill next to its existing operation.  Just this project alone has already created hundreds of construction jobs, while 350 permanent new jobs are set to be created once the assembly is completed in 2012.

It is so important to understand the secondary benefits that energy exploration will have on our economy. These will be seen through increased business for our trucking industry and construction companies. Even restaurants and other small business will see a huge increase in their demand because when people work and travel in the area, they will be much more encouraged to stop and use the services of our other businesses.

This also means very good things on the horizon for our local educators. Here in the Zanesville-area, Zane State College recently graduated their first class in their new Oil and Gas Program. Places like Zane State, Marietta College, and Ohio University have all made concerted efforts to provide research and worker training that will help the industry flourish in Ohio.

As a member of the Ohio Senate, I am proud to be able to pave the way for this new industry. The result will be good, well-paying jobs for our neighbors, lower utility costs for our families, and the birth of Ohio as one of our country’s leaders in energy production. With responsible, well planned exploration of Ohio’s resources, we can become a great energy producer while preserving the beauty of our great state.

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