Appalachian Basin

Ohio Energy Future Defined by Opportunity, Not Politics

Earlier this month, Ohio Governor John Kasich spoke on the need to work together, Republicans and Democrats alike, to ensure the success of Ohio’s shale development and the return to economic prosperity it will provide.

On the energy piece of this, we’re going to have to work together collaboratively, and we have been. Democrats and Republicans understand the big picture here… – Governor John Kasich, State of the State address, 2/7/12

Ditto President Obama. Last month, during the State of the Union address, the president emphasized the incredible potential shale plays all across the country have in the abundant supply of energy and the enormous positive impact it will have in creating new jobs and rejuvenating the economy.

We have a supply of natural gas that can last America nearly 100 years…and my administration will take every possible action to safely develop this energy. – President Barack Obama, State of the Union Address, 1/25/12

This is an opportunity we all share in. A rising tide lifts all ships, right?

But as you may have noticed, it’s an election year. And in good ol’ American tradition, politics is now being injected into every issue and every public conversation out there. Energy development, it seems, and the economic revitalization it is providing, is not immune to this. We can see it nationally, and we can see it at home here in Ohio.

Recently, there has been great effort by activist groups (and, in some cases the media) who would like to characterize or create such a simplistic divide as ‘Right vs Left’ or ‘Republican vs Democrat’ in the greater conversation of energy development; Gasland’s Josh Fox has attempted to lay the blame of his recent arrest at the feet of house Republicans, in spite of the fact that it was a direct result of his failure to follow proper house protocol. Ohio Representative Bob Hagan has tried to tie recent seismic events in Youngstown to the current Republican administration. He even bussed in protestors to the recent State of the State speech to disrupt the annual address. CBS and local anti-energy activist groups have made an attempt, successful in some instances in Ohio, to co-opt the ‘Occupy Wall Street’ movement into the opposition to oil and gas development.

But it’s not that simple.

I’ve recently spoken with both the Mansfield Tea Party and the Occupy Mansfield groups, and can tell you while there may be deep ideological differences between the two, many of the sentiments on Ohio energy development remain the same. The Occupy group did not inherently oppose energy exploration, nor did the Tea Party group blindly support it. I was invited to speak on the facts by the leadership of both organizations. And I heard the same questions at both events. Surely, there were some folks who had already come with predisposed opinions, but those were not the same ones I came to address. More importantly, they weren’t the ones who came to listen.

Having been to “both sides” of the “aisle” I can tell you – this is not how the opportunity the development of our homegrown resources is defined.

We have a chance to return our state to days of prosperity we have not seen in generations. Shale development has saved Ohio consumers billions on energy costs, brought manufacturing back to places where it has been long dormant for decades, dropped unemployment rates in long depressed regions, and lifted communities that have endured great hardship.

And we are just beginning this journey.

No, this conversation is defined in opportunity; it is an opportunity for our labor force, our unemployed, our college graduates to find work here at home. It’s an opportunity to provide our returning veterans with one of the greatest thanks we can give – an ability to provide for themselves and their families with a good paying job. The conversation we are having here in Ohio is of too great importance to simplify with one word or to characterize as one side vs. the other.

While we are inundated with political and divisive rhetoric from now till next November, let’s leave it at the door when it comes to Ohio’s energy and economic future.

All that is valuable in human society depends upon the opportunity for development accorded the individual. – Albert Einstein




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