Saturday, February 22, 2014

Western Ohio Agriculture Benefitting From Economic Growth in Eastern Ohio

Guest Column from State Representative Jim Buchy

Without even being present in Darke County, oil and gas exploration in Ohio is improving our farms and agricultural industry. In Darke County we benefit as Appalachia is built up, the more people working in Appalachia the more of our food being consumed.

In eastern Ohio, where there are Class II injection wells and hydraulic fracturing, the agricultural land is being used conservatively. The new technology of horizontal drilling results in less land being used to access more natural resources.

The people of Darke County will also benefit, as compressed natural gas (CNG) begins to become more economical and tractors are built on a large scale with CNG engines. The lower price of CNG will make farming operations in our area more profitable.

This is all part of a growing industry that is spreading wealth to much of Ohio’s consumers and businesses. So far in Ohio, $5 billion has been added to the gross domestic product due to oil and gas exploration. This is an industry that is paying increasing attention to the environment because, like agriculture, the industry depends on the land that produces the commodity. In Darke County, we are not likely to have any hydraulic fracturing or Class II injection wells for the disposal of fracturing fluid, but we are going to continue benefiting from the growth of Ohio’s oil and gas industry.

One fear raised by those opposed to hydraulic fracturing is the concern that chemicals could contaminate water sources and harm livestock production. I have heard about videos that depict water contamination that is making animals sick. But there is a lot that those videos don’t tell you about the animals on camera. It is highly unlikely that the oil and gas industry is harming these animals because there are no instances of ground water contamination associated with the hydraulic fracturing process.

In other states, the process is less regulated than in Ohio. In Ohio our tough regulations help ensure that water is safe for animal and human consumption in the areas of oil and gas exploration.

Hydraulic fracturing is a great benefit to this state, and natural gas is an excellent source of power that is not only clean and plentiful, but also safe. The continued development of the industry in Ohio can only lead to a stronger, more stable economy and the continued growth of jobs, creating some 8,000 jobs here in Ohio for production alone.

In Darke County, we can still see the benefits from hydraulic fracturing operations, even though it is unlikely to come to our area. The positive economic benefit for those in eastern Ohio that are directly affected by the oil and gas industry will also spread economic growth for the whole state. As eastern Ohio’s population is growing and improving economically, the market for agricultural products produced in western Ohio will also expand.

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