Shale Can Restore Ohio’s Hope
Ohioans need jobs. Our state has a rich history of employment opportunities, but the struggling economy has affected families and forced many businesses to close their doors. The most troubling affect of this is the fact that some Ohioans are moving to neighboring states to pursue jobs and brighter futures. This downward spiral only leads to fewer businesses and fewer jobs. It’s a cycle that must be broken.
Shale development is turning this all around.
Already, the process of identifying, capturing, transporting and refining oil and natural gas is requiring several industries to expand their workforce. Economic impact studies forecast upwards of 200,000 new jobs in Ohio by 2015. Southeastern Ohio, which has struggled since the loss of the steel industry, is starting to receive millions of dollars in new investments, an influx of new careers, and a massive increase in local government revenue. All of these improvements are happening now.
Over the past six months, I’ve traveled across eastern Ohio sharing my knowledge on the benefits of oil and natural gas development with folks along the way. I’ve presented at more than 125 meetings, where I’ve discussed this emerging opportunity with unemployed workers, college students, young families, senior citizens, and many others. Through this experience I have found our communities are engaged in the conversation at every level. Landowners are optimistic and hungry for good information, and young people are seeking out jobs in this burgeoning industry.
We’re witnessing the restoration of optimism. It’s clear that energy production is renewing hope across the Appalachian region, but that feeling is spreading to other areas in Ohio as well. In spite of recent hardship, young entrepreneurs are staying to invest in their communities, and “mom and pop” shops are being flooded with new business. Natural gas prices have dropped significantly, a trend that is likely to continue for some time leading any Ohioans to testify that development is creating jobs in their neighborhoods while lowering the cost of energy. It’s a good time to be an Ohioan, but we must protect this new opportunity.
Some will argue that oil and natural gas development is a bad thing. They use fear-tactics and misinformation, and say that development is dangerous. Their claims are poor and inaccurate and will only stall economic growth. The reality is that development is good for the economy, and energy production can, and is, being done safely.
Let me be clear: my top priority is public safety. Two years ago, I helped craft Senate Bill 165 (S.B. 165), which established necessary safeguards, standards and procedures for development. This was passed with bi-partisan support in a Democrat-controlled Ohio House and a Republican-controlled Ohio Senate. Later, it was signed into law by Democrat Governor Ted Strickland. S.B. 165 set the stage for a safe and responsible increase in development. In fact, regulations in Ohio are more stringent than many of our neighbors in the Great Lakes region. As a result of this law, Ohio is exceptionally prepared for this industry to expand.
I’m confident in the quality of Ohio’s rules and regulations. Furthermore, as Chairman of the Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee in the State Assembly, I’m committed to keeping Ohio’s policies and procedures up-to-date. My office is continuing to work with state lawmakers and the Ohio Department of Natural Resources to draft a bill that will give public safety officials the tools they need to protect Ohio’s water and air.
To ensure these low natural gas prices, these jobs, these local government funds and this hope for a brighter future stay in Ohio, it’s important that you speak to your family, friends and community about the benefits of shale development. We can develop oil and natural gas here at home and we can do it safely. If you would like more information, I encourage you to explore EIDOhio.org, and .
Shale means jobs; shale is restoring Ohio’s hope.
State Representative Dave Hall represents Ohio’s 97th House District, which includes portions of Ashland, Medina and all of Holmes counties. He currently serves as Chairman for the Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee and is a member of the Ohio Farm Bureau.