Any new comprehensive energy policy in Ohio needs to include natural gas
August 24, 2020
Crain’s Cleveland Business – With the debacle of House Bill 6 and the emergence of the shale play in the northeastern part of our state, Ohio needs to re-examine its energy policy. Considering its many benefits, natural gas must be a major part of that policy.
Natural gas is one of Ohio’s most vital industries, improving lives by providing a reliable and affordable means of powering homes and businesses. No industry is better suited to meet expanding energy needs and address environmental challenges. This is especially true in Ohio, which is among the nation’s leading natural gas producers and consumers. At this time in our state and nation’s history, natural gas is in the best position to meet our energy needs.
To be sure, climate considerations must be part of any energy policy as well. But with most experts predicting it will still be some time before solar, wind and other renewable sources can completely replace natural gas as an energy source, it is clear that a solvent climate policy needs to focus on energy sources that create jobs and positively impact the economy now, as we transition to this cleaner future.
Natural gas provides jobs — around 262,000 in Ohio alone — and strengthens our energy security. A balanced energy policy must account for this. Better yet, these jobs have flourished over nearly two decades during which Ohio has seen significant reductions in many harmful airborne pollutants, proving that an environmentally responsible way forward can, in fact, include both natural gas and renewable energy.
Furthermore, the many benefits of this burgeoning industry are sustainable for the long term and integral to Ohio’s economic vitality. With natural gas production having seen an increase of more than 1,000% in Ohio over the last decade, not only do nearly 7 out of 10 Ohio households now rely on natural gas for home heating, it also accounts for more than 14.7 billion in wages, and is essential for a wide array of industries. Indeed, the American Chemistry Council projects that the natural gas industry can create 100,000 more permanent manufacturing jobs over the next several years, as well as an additional $38 billion of capital investment in the region.
Considering all this, any climate plan needs to include natural gas. It is good policy and good politics. An industry that moves Ohio — and America — forward, and provides for its most basic modern day needs in a clean and efficient way, must be considered.
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