Stark County Forum Provides Valuable Information on Shale Development
Last night at Robertson’s Heating and Supply in Alliance, State Representative Christina Hagen, (R-50th District) held a business forum panel discussion regarding natural gas development happening in the district. Sitting on the distinguished panel were nine well informed members from the natural gas industry as well as government representatives.
The panel members included:
- Larry Wickstrom, Ohio Department of Natural Resources
- Terry Fleming, Ohio Petroleum Council
- Matt Hammond, Chesapeake
- David Mustine, JobsOhio
- Joe Greco, Clean Harbors
- Tom Stewart, Ohio Oil and Gas Association
- Timothy McKeen, Steptoe & Johnson, Attorneys at Law
- Rich Frederick, Ohio Workforce Development
- Rhonda Reda, Ohio Oil and Gas Energy Education Program
The crowd of about 50 people was extremely interested in the topic and the event ran 30 minutes over the allotted time with a Q&A session. Stark County Treasurer Alex Zumbar and Alliance City Councilman Larry Dordea were also in attendance to hear from the panel.
The event began after a short introduction and welcome from State Rep. Hagen. Ronda Reda, who serves as Executive Director of OOGEEP, was the first speak and she used her time to give a brief overview of the long 150 year history of exploration and production in Ohio.
One of the most interesting slides in her presentation was a photo of a family from my hometown of Stow located in Summit County. In the photo the family put every product they use that is derived from crude oil and natural gas on their front lawn. Some say a picture is worth a 1,000 words; in this case this picture is worth 6,000 products, which are only available because of the oil and gas industry.
After the OOGEEP presentation several panel members discussed workforce development.
Rich Frederick and David Mustine shared that there are 80,000 job openings on the JobsOhio website that are unfilled because of a lack of trained workers. The same was said about the oil and gas industry where a similiar deficit exists. According to Frederick, to help close this gap there are 77 jobs programs in 13 agencies working to get people qualified and back to work.
Mustine shared with the audience that just down the road Stark State is setting up several training programs to address this issues by providing needed training to Ohioans so they can fill these jobs now and in the near future as the industry will need to fill a gap likely to be left by an aging workforce.
Providing needed training and qualification opportunities is critical as according to the OOGEEP economic impact study released this year, Ohio can expect to see over 205,000 jobs created by the oil and gas industry in the coming years.
Next Tom Stewart from OOGA explained that Senate Bill 165 , which updated rules and regulations governing the industry, that Ohio is ready to become very active in oil and natural gas production while safely protecting the environment. This is noticeable in the review of Ohio’s regulation by STRONGER, a workgroup consisting of state regulatory agencies, environmental organizations and industry groups, who found that Ohio’s regulations were “well-managed, professional and meeting its program objectives”.
Tim McKeen, the attorney on the panel, encouraged everyone to know their rights and hire attorney if they wanted to lease their property for exploration. Indeed, this is good advice especially considering most homeowners have no previous knowledge when approached with an oil or gas lease.
State Geologist Larry Wickstrom from ODNR was on-hand to explain the differenes between the Marcellus and Utica Shale.
Finally, Rep. Hagen closed the meeting by saying that development of the Utica and Marcellus Shale is the opportunity that Ohio and the 50th district have been needing for a long time. This is a game changer in Ohio and will require a skilled workforce, the right and reasonable regulation and most of all an industry committed to being a good corporate neighbor. Luckily, we have all these needed elements in place in the Buckeye State and are ready to move forward.