Following a roundtable discussion and tour, Rep. Bill Johnson and newly elected House Majority Whip Steve Scalise of Louisiana visited the Utica East Ohio Buckeye Scio cryogenic processing plant Wednesday afternoon.
The pair traveled around East Ohio on Wednesday as part of an energy tour. The morning began with a tour of a Rice Energy natural gas rig, followed by a roundtable discussions with energy industry and business leaders in Belmont County. The tour also included a stop at the Century Mine, a coal mine operated by American Energy Corporation near Beallsville. Johnson, R-Ohio, and Scalise, R-La., also met with various small business owners who have been positively impacted by the oil and gas development in Ohio.
Scalise chose the area for his first trip since being elected majority whip to emphasize the importance of energy as a solution for our nation's struggling economy.
"American energy brings billions into our economy, increases our nation's energy security, and will help lower gas prices at the pump," Scalise said, adding the local energy boom bears testament to his position. "The American people know energy is the best way to jump-start our economy."
Johnson and Scalise said the Democrat-controlled Senate has blocked "bill after bill" that would expand energy production, lower gas prices and create jobs, including the Keystone XL pipeline. Johnson said that since his appointment to serve on the House Energy and Commerce Committee with Scalise, all energy bills sent to the Senate have been ignored.
"They are just sitting gathering dust," he said.
The USO facility is one of many multi-million dollar investments in East Ohio that are bringing new jobs, major construction projects and lifting local economies, Johnson said. The UEO Buckeye facility is the largest integrated processing and fracking plant in the Utica formation.
"When we talk about America's energy independence, we talk about an all-of- the-above strategy," Scalise said. "You cannot just rely on renewable sources of energy. Solar and wind must be included in the energy equation, however, even at their full potential you could not even meet 20 percent of the energy needs of this nation, let alone transportation needs."
Scalsie said President Barack Obama has declared a war on coal, and unfortunately has been successful. He said the Environmental Protection Agency is using the same aggressive tactics to go against the hydraulic fracking industry.
"These regulatory policies are essentially trying to shut down our domestic energy industry making us more dependent on foreign energy and increasing consumer costs," he said.
"We are perilously close, not only to being more energy dependent on foreign sources, but to not having enough energy on the grid because of federal regulation from the EPA," Johnson added. "A major manufacturer here in Southeastern Ohio told me this past weekend he had been contacted by the utility company and asked to shut down his plant during peak usage periods there would not be enough to power residential customers."
Johnson said his goal is to find a away to convince the Senate to act on legislation being presented to them.
"This facility is an example of the technology and investment that is lowering energy costs and employing many of my constituents," Johnson said. "Our goal is to find a way to get the Senate back to work, and as a result we will see a lot less dependence on foreign sources, for not only our oil, but for energy across the board."