Appalachian Basin

2012 Candidate Archive: Energy Jobs a Driving Force in Ohio Economic Recovery

*Editor’s note: This column was originally published on April 19, 2012

Here in , and in other regions across the country, we have beneath our feet the resources and the means to ensure our state’s and our nation’s economic viability and energy security for the foreseeable future. The Utica Shale formation, along with many other shale formations from coast to coast, provides us this great opportunity. All we have to do is harness it.  And that is what I am fighting to do in Congress: provide our state and nation a unique opportunity to return to prosperity while protecting our environment.

This is an ongoing battle, of course, as some heavy-handed federal agencies are adding new layers of regulations on the energy sector, pushing prices to unaffordable levels.

For families and small businesses here in Ohio, higher energy prices have real consequences. Everything from their daily commute to the grocery bill is getting more expensive.  And higher energy prices mean fewer jobs.

Vice President Biden recently said that “our energy policy’s the best it’s ever been.” But, a true “all of the above” strategy includes removing government barriers to energy production, stopping policies that drive up gasoline prices, and helping create new American jobs.  After all affordable energy is the lifeblood of job creation and economic recovery.

Today we are knocking at the door of a brighter energy future; one that promises abundant, secure, and cheaper North American supplies, as long as Washington doesn’t create artificial obstacles that will stand in the way.

Across our great state we are beginning to see a the impacts of oil and gas exploration in areas that were once inaccessible, but now are not due to advances in technology that are now leading to the development of vast new supplies of affordable and reliable energy resources.

One reason Ohio has been successful is the fact that our state passed strong, commonsense regulations for the oil and gas industry which are among some of the most stringent and effective regulations in the country. In fact, just last year STRONGER, a federally supported peer review group including state regulators, environmental groups and other stakeholders lauded our regulations.  Ohio’s regulations are a sound example of strong regulations that adhere to common sense.

Already, the Utica Shale has led to an incredible expansion in job creation and increased economic opportunity throughout Ohio.  Last week, I helped organize a Job Fair in New Philadelphia, where companies like Chesapeake Energy, Timken Steel, MarkWest Energy and Purple Land Management were actively looking to hire Ohioans for good-paying jobs in the oil and natural gas industry.  Ohio has been waiting for these types of jobs for decades and it took the Utica Shale formation, to bring them here.

The best part of it all?  These jobs are located in areas of Ohio that need them most.

Of course, what we are seeing is only the beginning. A recent study projected the creation of over 200,000 jobs – and the generated revenue of over $12 billion in annual salaries and personal income – all linked to Utica Shale development.

Since the development of the Utica Shale began, Ohio’s unemployment rate has decreased in earnest from approximately from approximately 8.9% in the summer of 2011 to 7.7 % today. Clearly the Utica has the potential to put people back to work and restore our economy.

Our state has the commitment and the proper regulatory structure in place to safely extract our homegrown energy sources, and in doing so we can return our state to prosperity and make Ohio the driving force in a true “ all of the above” energy policy. For my part, I am committed to be a leader in ensuring our state and nation is able to move forward to take advantage of this once in a generation opportunity.

Congressman Bob Gibbs is the U.S. Representative for the Eighteenth District of Ohio and was sworn into office January 5, 2011.

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