COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - As Gov. John Kasich prepares to deliver his State of the State speech in the heart of Ohio's shale drilling region, a liberal policy group is proposing that he and other policymakers bring the state's taxes on oil and gas profits in line with those of Texas.
Columbus-based Innovation Ohio said Thursday that its analysis of industry data is also leading it to seek passage of a Landowner Bill of Rights and a Hire Ohio plan to ensure residents get their fair share of proceeds and jobs from the coming shale boom.
Spokesman Dale Butland emphasized that the report is about economics, not environmental factors such as drilling using hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, or a series of earthquakes in the Youngstown area near a deep injection well for disposing of drilling wastewater.
"If fracking goes forward in this state, all Ohioans should benefit," Butland said. "After all, these natural resources belong to us, not the oil companies. The companies are certainly entitled to a fair profit for extracting it, but regular Ohioans also deserve a fair share and a fair shake - and it's up to our elected officials to make sure we get it."
The group's analysis of state oil and gas reserve data found that shale drilling could mean $86 billion to Ohio natural gas developers over the next 20 years.
The report identified Ohio oil resources worth an additional $130 billion to $550 billion, along with natural gas liquids of unknown value.
That bears out predictions by the GOP governor's administration that the industry could be a game-changer for the ailing economy in this once-proud manufacturing state.
Kasich spokesman Rob Nichols declined to react to Innovation Ohio's proposals.
"I'll respond to them directly when they release their donors and their finances to the public," he said. "We don't know who's funding them: Is it environmental groups? Is it anti-drilling interests? What we know is that shale and natural gas stands to bring an economic revival to a part of the state that's been down for decades. We're managing it responsibly and with sensitivity to job creation and the environment."
Janetta King, who served as policy director to former Democrat Gov. Ted Strickland, is the group's president, and several Democrats are publicly involved in the think tank.