The Post, 9/27

Anyone who follows the energy industry in Ohio has had a lot to take in over the course of this year. Not only have these individuals had the opportunity to attend an energy summit in Columbus recently, but the summit started with the welcome news of just how much potential Ohio has in energy production.

The Ohio Oil & Gas Energy Education Association recently released a study that highlighted the impact that our state's oil and gas reserves can have on our economy. This includes an industry worth billions of dollars, along with the creation of more than 200,000 jobs. The jobs would come from leasing, royalties, exploration, production, as well as the construction jobs that come with having to build and operate such heavy equipment.

Put simply, the development that we can take advantage of from the Utica and Marcellus shale is not just gas development; it is economic development. For the longest time, there have been some who do not want to tap into the resources beneath our feet, but the fact of the matter is that stopping energy production keeps our state from good jobs that Ohioans desperately need. And aside from the jobs, we will have more state revenue through the growth of the economy and a greater supply of energy for our citizens.

By accessing Ohio's energy resources, our state can keep costs down for the families who need to hold onto their money and divert it to other expenses--especially those hit hard financially in the middle class. An example is the fact that when gas prices go up, so do transportation costs, which leads to increased prices at the grocery store. That can certainly add up when taking care of a family.

There is no reason we should be putting Ohio at a disadvantage while surrounding states take advantage of shale and other energy production methods. For this reason, the Ohio House has already passed legislation earlier this year that will form the Oil and Gas Leasing Commission.

Many people do not realize that the state of Ohio is the single largest land owner in the state. The Oil and Gas Leasing Commission will help us use our public lands to their fullest potential by acting as an advocate for our citizens. It will also allow those who manage these public lands to approve the development of the lands and act alongside both the state and federal government.

Through the bill, we have laid out the procedures required to lease land for oil and gas production on state-owned or state-managed lands. Not only will the leases provide another source of revenue, meaning taxes will not have to be raised, but it will allow additional funding for expenses such as equipment, renovations and repairs at the beautiful state parks we are fortunate enough to have.

With Ohio being as economically hard-hit as it has been, we must be doing everything we can to bring results to our citizens. The Oil and Gas Leasing Commission is a small first step. Tapping into our resources to reach Ohio's full economic potential is the best way to move forward from here.


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