An opinion piece published Jan. 22 in the Enquirer is riddled with misrepresentations about Ohio's essential oil and natural gas industry, as well as misplaced fear about a newly passed bill, House Bill 507.
Here are the facts: In 2011, Ohio's General Assembly approved oil and gas development under state lands, so this legislation is nothing new. What it does is make the process more efficient while the Oil and Gas Land Management Commission finalizes rules; opening up opportunities for private landowners close to and adjacent to Ohio state lands and parks to safely develop their private mineral rights.
In addition to being a win for property rights, this legislation will help Ohio maintain and expand its position as a national leader in safely developing energy resources. This will make a positive difference in providing clean and affordable energy for Ohio families and businesses.
Ohio's energy industry has a long history of partnerships with public entities. Take, for example, the Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District (MWCD), a park with over 57,000 acres of land and Ohio's largest public entity that has leased lands for oil and gas development.
Multiple operators have safely developed this acreage for years with no hindrance to parkgoers or the land. In contrast, this development has allowed the MCWD to reinvest $150 million in upgrades to the park and lakes, including through infrastructure, water quality and other programs. This partnership is a testament that responsible energy development and conservation are not mutually exclusive.
Benefits like these are seen all over Ohio. While the author of Sunday's piece diminishes the oil and gas industry's role in providing jobs and economic prosperity, the reality is the opposite. Natural gas and oil continue to be an economic lifeblood for Ohio, with a recent report by JobsOhio and Cleveland State University showing that since the Shale Revolution began in 2011, the energy industry has invested nearly $100 billion into the Buckeye State. Additionally, the industry employs over 208,000 Ohioans with family-sustaining wages higher than the average wage in all Ohio industries.
School districts like Carrolton Village Schools, Union Local Schools and East Guernsey Schools each cite their energy partnerships as necessary revenue sources to build new training centers, add security upgrades and better serve student needs. Counties like Jefferson use drilling revenue for their county developmental disabilities board, while proceeds from mineral rights on Ohio University's St. Clairsville campus has created a new scholarship fund for students from Ohio's Appalachian counties.
Increased opportunities to develop land through HB 507 means increased revenue for essential Ohio community needs like these − all while being done safely through some of the strictest regulations in the country.
Ohio is a national leader in energy development with a strong regulatory framework. Our injection well standards set the bar nationally and are even stricter than federal regulations − a fact that has been recognized by the EPA and the Ground Water Protection Council. And new rules passed just last year increase these regulations further.
Further, natural gas − like that produced here in Ohio − is helping the United States lead the world in emissions reductions.
Energy, including oil and gas, is essential to Ohioans' everyday life. It's how we heat our homes, drive to the grocery store, keep the lights on, or ensure we have access to life-saving medical products. Increasing access for production means increased energy security − so we're not relying on supply chains overseas to meet our energy needs or paying $5-plus at the gas pump like we did last summer.
Unfortunately, the author of Sunday's opinion piece cherry picks her examples and ignores the record of excellence that Ohio's oil and gas industry continues to demonstrate while providing clean, affordable and essential energy.
Oil and gas development is safe when done responsibly. Here in Ohio, we continue to do that each and every day.
Rob Brundrett is president of the Ohio Oil and Gas Association. The Ohio Oil and Gas Association's mission is to protect, promote, foster and advance the common interest of those engaged in all aspects of the Ohio crude oil and natural gas producing industry.
This article originally appeared on Cincinnati Enquirer: Opinion: Ohio has a long history of safe, responsible oil and gas development