Appalachian Basin

Ohio University Report Finds Overwhelming Support for Shale Development

The Consortium for Energy, Economics and the Environment at Ohio University recently released a study that finds overwhelming support of shale development in Ohio.  The Shale Development Community Impact Survey looked at 17 counties where shale activity is taking place.  The survey relied on responses from 554 mayors/city managers, county commissioners and township trustees across the region to get their take on the impact of shale development in their counties.

“Shale development is having a major impact on the communities of eastern Ohio,” says Scott Miller, director of the School’s Consortium for Energy, Economics & the Environment (CE3).

The survey also found the impact of shale development has been very positive. Added Miller: “Shale development is generally seen as a positive force by local elected officials, with 87.1 percent saying it’s either been a positive or a neutral influence, and only 7.8 percent saying that it’s a negative influence.”

While Ohio is working hard to train our local workforce, respondents did point out there was an influx of out of state workers in their counties.  They attributed most of the influx to the development of midstream infrastructure like pipelines and natural gas processing facilities.  Even though Ohio has seen some growth in population from out of state workers, over 57.5 percent of the respondents have seen a growth in local employment attributed to oil and gas development.  As we continue to develop and refine our oil and gas programs across the state, the number of employment opportunities for in-state workers will only continue to grow.

These high-paying jobs, which average $74,382 according to the latest Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services Quarterly Shale Report, are improving the economy of eastern Ohio.  Respondents of the survey noted retail and restaurant activity, for example, has increased in their counties.  Over 70 percent of counties with shale wells – 90 percent where natural gas processing facilities are being built – are noticing increased restaurant business while retail activity also experiences similar results.

It is no secret that shale development is also improving sales tax revenues for the counties where development is taking place.  The survey found over 87 percent of all commissioners who responded attributed an increase in sales tax revenues to Utica shale development.

Notably, the report also found “Environmental impacts are not noted yet. Except for increased water demand” and “There is very little reported impact on public safety” according to the webinar hosted by Ohio University.

Now this report may irk activists opposed to shale development, since those most in tune with shale development taking place in their counties are recognizing the positive impacts shale development is having on their communities.   The truth of the matter is that while there may be some limited growing pains that take place with increased activity, shale development is having a very positive impact on Ohio – especially in, but by no means limited to, the counties where it’s actually occurring.

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