Rebuttal: Oil and Gas Industry are Good for Ohio Communities Despite Report

March 17, 2021

Columbus Dispatch. From the car dealers selling vehicles so quickly they can barely keep up with demand, to the construction crews who are as busy as they have ever been, area businesses in Ohio’s shale country are thriving thanks to the investments and economic activity being generated by the oil and gas industry.

As commissioners from these counties, we see how the industry is benefitting our communities and constituents every day.

That is why we were stunned to see a recent article in The Dispatch argue that the oil and gas industry has not been an economically uplifting force in our communities.

The February article, “Report: Ohio fracking counties saw declines in jobs, population and income,” blatantly distorted and misrepresented facts while detailing a report by the Ohio River Valley Institute, an organization of radical activists whose main purpose is to promote renewable energy sources.

The facts are that the oil and gas industry has invested more than $60 billion in Ohio to support upstream activities such as drilling, extraction and leasing since 2011. That number comes from  a report out of Cleveland State University which was commissioned by JobsOhio. That same report showed that from July 2019 to December 2019, the industry invested more than $400 million in Belmont County alone.

Let that sink in, $400 million in one county in just six months. In that same time period the industry invested $206,280,000 in Harrison County and $168,480,000 in Guernsey County. The report also indicates that the industry has provided more than $1 billion to build and repair roads since 2011.

Jack Kleinhenz, a nationally recognized economist, issued a similar report in January 2020, which was commissioned by the Ohio Oil and Gas Energy Education Program. His report showed that in 2018 the industry paid $1.1 billion in taxes and royalties. More than 92% of the taxes and royalties paid by the industry go to local governments and landowners, with the remainder being paid to the state.

The report also showed that Belmont, Carroll, Columbiana, Guernsey, Harrison, Jefferson, Monroe, Noble and Washington counties saw a combined $1.6 billion in labor income in 2018 thanks to the oil and gas industry. Furthermore, as of 2018, the industry was directly responsible for or actively supporting 37,256 Ohio jobs — largely in shale counties.

Reports by the American Petroleum Institute, Ohio Oil and Gas Association, Shale Crescent USA and others all tell the same story. The oil and gas industry is investing enormous sums in eastern Ohio. Their investment is generating tens of thousands of well-paying jobs, significant tax revenues for our schools, roads and local governments, and tens of billions of dollars in economic activity for our state.

The numbers are clear, the oil and gas industry is an economic engine in eastern Ohio. The shale boom has made our communities more prosperous than they have ever been, and you don’t have to take our word for it. We invite anyone who wants to see for themselves to visit our counties and spend some time speaking to the locals.

It won’t take you long to find first-hand accounts of folks benefiting from the enormous investments being made by the oil and gas industry in eastern Ohio.

By Jerry Echemann, Skip Gardner and Paul Coffland

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