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Reliable Information About Ohio’s Oil and Gas Industry

I recently saw an article in The Intelligencer entitled “Report: Ohio fracking counties saw declines in jobs, population and income.”

This runs counter to dozens of other reports that all say the oil and gas industry is investing billions of dollars in Eastern Ohio, creating tens of thousands of good-paying jobs and generating billions of dollars more in local economic activity.

As an elected official, which should I believe? Should I believe the dozens of reports that indicate the oil and gas industry is helping uplift Ohio’s shale counties, or this new one that claims it’s not?

To figure it out, let’s look at the sources of the competing information.

The dozens of reports that say the oil and gas industry is an economic driver in shale counties come from a variety of sources. Independent third parties like JobsOhio and Cleveland State University regularly publish reports about the industry’s investment in Ohio.

Their most recent report covers through the end of 2019, and shows the industry has invested over $60 billion in upstream activities such as drilling and leasing.

During the last six months of 2019, upstream investment in Belmont County alone totaled $401,760,000. The report also indicates that between 2011 and 2019, the industry paid $6,633,578,000 in royalties and $24,924,541,000 for mineral rights to landowners in the counties where they are drilling wells.

That’s real money.

That report isn’t alone in showing the incredible scale of the economic impact the industry has had here in Eastern Ohio.

The Ohio Oil and Gas Energy Education Program (OOGEEP) commissioned Jack Kleinhenz, a prominent and nationally recognized economist, to examine the economic impact of the industry in Ohio. Kleinhenz found that as of 2018 the industry had created 22,174 jobs in Ohio, and an additional 15,082 Ohio jobs were supported by the industry.

The vast majority of these jobs are in shale counties.

In 2018, nine Ohio counties — Belmont, Carroll, Columbiana, Guernsey, Harrison, Jefferson, Monroe, Noble and Washington — saw $1.6 billion in labor income for their residents thanks to the oil and gas industry.

That’s real money too.

Those are just a couple of examples from highly regarded sources, but there are dozens of reports from the American Petroleum Institute, Ohio Oil and Gas Association, Shale Crescent USA and others that tell the same story.

Contrast these highly regarded sources with this new report which comes from the Ohio River Valley Institute, a relatively new organization run by the former director of the Sierra Club’s Pennsylvania chapter. Its advisory board is filled with environmental activists, and the organization has a clear agenda to promote renewable energy sources.

Their report makes claims that are contradictory not just to the reports issued by oil and gas organizations but also reports issued by independent third parties. It also contradicts what I see as I drive throughout these shale counties that I represent, and the conversations I’ve had with so many who live here who’ve benefitted greatly from the oil and gas development.

It’s an easy decision when it’s all laid out like this. The oil and gas industry has been nothing short of a major economic driver in Eastern Ohio.

The investments made, jobs created and supported, the stories of those who live here, and an overwhelming majority of studies on oil and gas in Eastern Ohio testify to that fact. A biased report from an organization driven by an anti-fossil fuels agenda won’t change any of that.

Bill Johnson, a Marietta, Ohio, resident, serves in the U.S. House of Representatives representing Ohio’s 6th Congressional District.

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