Ohio’s oil and gas industry is creating jobs, protecting workers, helping communities thrive: David Hill

May 7, 2021

Cleveland Plain Dealer. A recent congressional hearing that featured Greta Thunberg and Ohio-based environmental activist Jill Hunkler was filled with misinformation and anti-fossil fuel propaganda. As an executive in the oil and gas industry, and resident of Ohio’s shale counties, I feel compelled to correct the record. Here’s the truth about the industry.

Let’s start with jobs. According to the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services, as of the third quarter of 2019, the oil and gas industry employed more than 208,000 Ohioans.

That means there are 208,000 Ohioans putting food on the table because of the oil and gas industry. It means there are 208,000 Ohioans paying property and income taxes that support Ohio schools, police, and fire departments. If these jobs disappeared, we’d all feel the effects of it.

As for the safety of oil and gas jobs, a 2019 report on worker safety by the American Petroleum Institute shows the industry places a premium on worker safety. Industry initiatives to ensure the safety and care of our employees have resulted in a 41% decrease in the incidence rate of nonfatal injuries and illnesses since 2008. As of 2017, the oil and gas industry experienced 1.7 incidents per 100 full-time workers. This is well below the rate of the wider U.S. private sector, which experiences 2.8 incidents per 100 full-time workers.

Next, let’s consider the community impact of the oil and gas industry. An independent study by Cleveland State University which was commissioned by JobsOhio shows that from 2011 through the second quarter of 2020, the industry invested an estimated $90.6 billion into Ohio — much of which was invested in Ohio shale counties in eastern Ohio. Public records data from county engineers show that between 2011 and the first quarter of 2017, the industry spent $300 million in eight Ohio counties to improve 630 miles of roads. Millions of dollars more have been spent by the industry to support schools, food pantries and other philanthropic causes. Ohioans would notice if the billions of dollars we invest in their communities disappeared.

What about the industry’s impact on emissions? Between 2005 and 2015, Ohio’s power sector cut its CO2 emissions by 37.7%, or 50 million metric tons annually, per U.S. Energy Information Administration data. Ohio led the nation in reducing emissions by a wide margin. Why? Because during that time frame, Ohio drastically increased its use of natural gas to power our homes and businesses. The widespread use of natural gas has been so effective in reducing CO2 emissions from power generation that U.S. CO2 emissions were hitting 25-year lows even before the pandemic began.

And to top it all off, there’s no evidence to support the oil and gas industry as the cause of health issues such as the body aches and nausea Hunkler claimed to have experienced. The University of Cincinnati spent years studying the impact of fracking on air and water quality in eastern Ohio. The results? They found no link between fracking activities and drinking water contamination. Furthermore, researchers took air samples near oil and gas production sites in Belmont, Guernsey and Noble counties. They tested them for 63 volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and formaldehyde and found that none of the air sample averages exceeded U.S. Environmental Protection Agency levels of health concern. The evidence is clear: Fracking does not pose health risks to local residents.

If your goal is to provide well-paying and safe jobs in eastern Ohio, support the oil and gas industry, because we’ve created hundreds of thousands of them. If your goal is to increase community investment in eastern Ohio, support the oil and gas industry, because we have invested and continue to invest billions of dollars in those communities. If your goal is to drastically reduce CO2 emissions, support the oil and gas industry, because we’re leading the way in reducing emissions here in Ohio and across the country.

David Hill is president of David R. Hill Inc. in Byesville, Ohio.

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