Appalachian Basin

Midterm Spotlight: Natural Gas Key Issue for Ohio Senate Candidates

With just one week left until the 2022 midterm elections, both candidates in the Ohio Senate race are doing everything they can to differentiate themselves on the issues, except one:  Ohio’s prolific natural gas and oil development.

As is being seen in campaigns in energy-rich states across the country, Ohio’s candidates are largely in agreement that fracking and increased energy development is a key issue for the Buckeye State.

While one could debate whether Democratic candidate Congressman Tim Ryan has always held this position, the fact remains that both candidates are touting their support for Ohio’s domestic energy resources as a critical issue to win over voters, highlighting how the United States’ energy future has taken central stage amidst a backdrop of misguided policy and global volatility.

From WYSO:

“Senate Candidates Tim Ryan and JD Vance had their final debate…They didn’t agree about much. However, both Ryan and Vance expressed their support for the growth of the natural gas industry.” (emphasis added)

Let’s take a look at some additional energy highlights throughout the 2022 campaign:

J.D. Vance’s website highlights Ohio’s abundant natural gas resources as a top issue:

Ohio is one of the world’s top producers of natural gas and oil. It’s time for our nation’s leaders to recognize and implement policies that properly support the ample natural energy we can harness and produce right here at home. There is no reason for us to be buying foreign oil at insane prices and continue straining families financially just to fill up their tanks. We need common-sense energy policies that put the American consumer first, so that our country can become energy independent.” (emphasis added)

Vance even embarked on an “Ohio Energy Tour” around the state, touting the need for more pipelines, increased refining capacity, and permitting reform to ramp up production and lower prices.

From the Toledo Blade:

“I think the two big things that we need to do is continue to invest and build refining capacity,” Mr. Vance said at Navarre Park. “We cannot have Joe Biden shutting down refineries in the United States and also add pipeline capacity. You’ve got to build more pipeline capacity to be more energy independent.”

From WTRF:

“If we allowed people to get the stuff out of the ground and get it to market we’d bring down prices for consumers we would make it easier for Americans to afford a decent life in their own home.”

And Lima Hometown Station:

“The energy crisis is one of the reasons why we have a terrible inflation crisis,” says Vance. “Because energy is part of our food, it’s part of our manufactured goods, it is part of certainly the gas at the pump. And so, if you drive up the cost of energy, you just make everybody poorer and it comes with no benefit to Americans, no benefit to Ohioans.”

Furthermore, in a survey by the Utica Energy Alliance, Vance threw his full support behind unleashing Ohio and Appalachia’s natural gas resources:

“Ohio’s economic and industrial success is inherently tied to our production of natural gas and oil. The strength of this market has far-reaching implications on every other industry in our state. We must do all we can to support oil and natural gas producers because they drive our economy, power our homes and businesses, and provide jobs for our neighbors.” (emphasis added)

For his part, Congressman Tim Ryan has joined the chorus calling for increased domestic natural gas production, despite past contradictory votes. While running for President in 2020, Tim Ryan echoed his party’s stance to further regulate and slow fracking – which resulted in a losing campaign – but now has attempted to embrace natural gas development as a way to appeal to Ohio voters.

When questioned about these past stances in a Fox News town hall on Tuesday, Ryan said:

I’m a thousand percent for [fracking]…I’m just saying we don’t want to do fracking on federal lands. I want to do it wherever else we can.”

Despite this caveat, Ryan’s endorsement of fracking and pivot from just a few years ago shows how important this issue is to voters who know increased development is key to bringing down gas prices.

These comments follow an October debate where Ryan more enthusiastically embraced natural gas production:

“I’ve been a natural gas proponent since I’ve been in Congress. And we have to get this right. We need to increase our production of natural gas. I support streamlining the permitting process around natural gas so we can get it around the country, lower costs for businesses, and ship it to Europe to stick our finger in Vladimir Putin’s eye.” (emphasis added)

At a campaign stop in Eastern Ohio, Ryan also touted natural gas:

We want to go all in on natural gas,” Ryan said. “This is a hell of an opportunity for Eastern Ohio. Great for jobs and the environment.” (emphasis added)

And in a twitter post, Ryan highlighted the need for domestic energy sources:

“The United States should not be dependent on foreign dictators for our energy needs. It’s time we unleash American energy independence, bring down costs for working people, and invest in good-paying energy jobs here at home.

Bottom Line: Ohio’s Senate candidates jostling to show their support for natural gas and fracking follows similar trends across the country, such as in Pennsylvania, where energy independence has taken center stage as a critical issue for voters who want to bring down prices and decrease American reliance on foreign fuel. It also highlights just how detached “Keep it in the Ground” activists who want to shut down oil and natural gas production are from reality. Unleashing American energy resources that are abundant in Ohio and throughout the country is a winning issue for 2022 and beyond.

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