I believe a big part of Ohio’s continued economic recovery will be in the oil and natural gas industry, an area that has sparked a lot of optimism in the eastern part of the state, especially in Columbiana County. As a recent article in the Youngstown Vindicator explained, the increase in shale activity has helped boost sales-tax revenue by more than 10 percent in March, April and May of this year.
Growth in the energy sector is good for other industries as well. Attracting new workers to the area will also attract new spending for other businesses. It also expands the opportunity for businesses who can manufacture products needed in the process of drilling through the Utica shale, simplifying the transport of these goods because they are so close to the actual site.
Ohio has in place some of the strictest environmental regulations in the country on gas and oil drilling. Understanding the need to establish common-sense regulations for this soon-booming industry, the Legislature passed a set of rules earlier this year that, among other things, requires companies to disclose the chemicals they use during the fracking process. It also puts in place a provision requiring gas producers to collect water samples within 1,500 feet of any proposed well and to publish the results in permit applications to provide for safe groundwater.
Proper regulations are in place. Ohio will benefit from oil and natural gas drilling. Columbiana County already is proof of that.