Appalachian Basin

Ohio’s Local 18 Members Stand United in Support of Shale Development in Bellville

On Sunday, EID-Ohio kicked off the new year at the All Souls Unitarian Universalist Church in Bellville. On the agenda was a presentation by political activist Chris Crews‘ on natural gas development utilizing hydraulic fracturing. Mr. Crews shared his personal views on development as they relate to current and future economic, political and social issues. Among the attendees were members of the International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE) Local 18, who came out in droves to voice their support for the jobs and economic revitalization associated with Utica Shale development.

Before we dive into the message delivered by Crews, let’s take a gander at our friends from Local 18 (pictured below) and find out why IUOE leadership decided to make the drive all the way to Bellville, Ohio on New Year’s morning.

16 members of the International Union of Operating Engineers, Local 18

Michael Bertolone, Business Representative & Operating Engineer, Local 18

Premo Panzarello, Organizing Director & Operating Engineer, Local 18

David Wierzbicki, Business Representative & Operating Engineer, Local 18

Without question, Local 18 is motivated and excited to support the thousands of long-term, high paying jobs that will be created from Utica Shale development in the Buckeye State.  In fact, many Local 18 members worked on the final construction phase of the Rockies Express (REX) Pipeline, providing much needed work in Ohio for operating engineers, laborers and those in other trades.  The REX Pipeline is one of the largest natural gas pipelines ever constructed in North America.

Local 18 members are seen below helping move the Ohio portion of the REX Pipeline, which stretches across the state a few hundred miles from the southern border.

Now, some background information on the featured speaker, Chris Crews (seen below entering All Souls Unitarian Universalist Church).

Crews, a Brooklyn, New York resident, was the former campaign coordinator for the Buckeye Forest Council, an activist, grassroots environmental organization .  He also worked for the New York Department of Parks on urban forest monitoring and restoration.  He is currently working on a Ph.D. in political theory at the New School in New York City and teaching an environmental politics class at Fordham University.  He has also been identified as part of the Occupy Wall Street movement in New York City.

Given Mr. Crews’s extensive background in environmental activism and his documented opposition to oil and gas development, including the Keystone XL pipeline project, many were anticipating a plethora of anti-development rhetoric.  To our surprise, Mr. Crews presented a more subtle presentation predicated on America making sound economic decisions to find a balance between developing our local natural resources while protecting the environment.

The challenge, according to Crews, is how we go about making responsible political and economic decisions on local, state and national levels to form sensible energy policy for America.  As a community and nation, how do we find the balance to benefit not only ourselves, but also future generations. Thankfully, the development of Ohio’s homegrown natural resources provide the opportunity to do just that.

Mr. Crews advises the crowd, and his students, to get informed on the issues and take an active roll:

After the church service ended, everyone was invited downstairs for coffee and conversation with Crews.  The debate between the crowd of pro and anti-development folks began to heat up when Crews stepped in to encourage alliance building amongst each other:

Even though Mr. Crews was the featured speaker, the Local 18 was the highlight of the day.   Local 18’s 14,000 members and their families depend on all types of construction work.  With Utica Shale development,  extraction of natural gas and oil and production of petroleum based products, they are able to obtain work for their members by building the drill pads, installing the gathering lines, and upgrading and maintaining the entire infrastructure supporting natural gas development, production and transport.  These members are from Ohio, they  pay taxes here, buy their groceries here, support our state’s schools and colleges, and raise their families in our communities . They are looking forward to continued job opportunities, and to an economy that will support the next generation.

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