ZANESVILLE – Congressman Troy Balderson (R-OH) is refuting claims made in a new report by think tank Ohio River Valley Institute stating that “22 counties in Ohio, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia responsible for 90% of Appalachia's oil and gas production saw their share of the nation's jobs, personal income and population all decline,” according to the Columbus Dispatch. Balderson and a group of key stakeholders in Ohio—including industry leaders and local officials—insist the report is misleading and does not present all relevant data, such as figures showing per capita income increasing for residents of Ohio’s counties cited in the report.
“This so-called report is nothing more than a scam to undermine the energy sector, which has long withstood slanderous labels and stereotypes that demean the livelihoods of blue-collar workers,” said Balderson, a Zanesville native. “In reality, thousands of Ohioans rely on energy jobs to support their families, and in turn, these jobs lay the foundation for the regions’ total economy by supporting small local suppliers, restaurants, and more. Rather than attacking these jobs, we should be asking ourselves where Ohio would be without the oil and gas industry—and the reliable, affordable energy it produces.”
"Muskingum County continues to benefit from the oil and gas industry. Mining, quarrying, as well as oil and gas jobs pay significantly higher than our average county wage. With those industry positions, the overall economic impact has had a positive effect on our community for generations," said Matt Abbott, Executive Director of the Zanesville-Muskingum County Port Authority.
“Besides the massive drop in unemployment rate since the shale boom started, we have seen businesses creating jobs and investing in these communities,” said Matt Hammond, President of the Ohio Oil and Gas Association. “This investment, in part, has led to specific examples of new school buildings and community centers being constructed, funded almost entirely from the oil and gas industry.”
“Over the last 7 years on the Cain family dairy farm, we have been able to repair or build new buildings, purchase equipment, and automate the feeding and milking of the dairy herd, all things that help us operate safer and more efficient,” said Larry Cain, a farmer in Belmont County. “We could not have done all of this without the additional income from the development of the natural gas on our property. Our farm has a much brighter future now and for generations to come.”
“Monroe County has seen firsthand the positive impact natural gas has had on our region,” said Mick Schumacher, Monroe County Commissioner. “A major employer left town a few years ago and we would have been a ghost town without oil and gas. It saved us. These new jobs in the industry went to our residents and they have spent their hard-earned dollars on their farms and in our communities. We support what they are doing and want it to continue for many years into the future. “
“The oil and gas activity in Guernsey County represented a catalyst to our local culture, which impacted every aspect of our economy,” said Norm Blanchard, Guernsey County Port Authority. “Our unemployment rate was reduced almost in half and has remained there due in part to residual energy activities. New hotels were constructed to house energy workers and were filled at 97% capacity. These hotels remain viable while restaurants, gas stations, and new retail entities received a boost from increased activity in the industry. For example, many individuals such as those in our farming community were able to modernize equipment, refurbish homes and barns, and relieve long-standing debt. County roads utilized to service well pads and pipeline construction were returned, in most cases, to much better condition than prior to the increased traffic.”
“The article in the Dispatch is only telling one side of the story and chooses not to focus on the positives that have taken place in our region and state over the past 10 years,” said Nick Homrighausen, Executive Director of the Harrison County Community Improvement Corp. “Regionally, our county’s coffers have been improved and allowed for some reinvestment in much needed infrastructure. Specifically, in Harrison County the oil and gas growth allowed our county to be the fastest growing in Ohio and ranked #4 in the nation in gross domestic product (GDP) growth, according to a 2019 Wall Street Journal article. The county recorded a 129.5% GDP growth rate from 2012 to 2015, and a GDP amount of $732.2 million. Manufacturing was found to be the fastest-growing industry.”
“The positive impact of the Utica Shale on our company (which is 100% employee owned) cannot be understated,” said Frank Leeper, President of Producer Services Corp. “In business since 1981, we were faced with a dramatic decline in demand for our services but were able to grow the company from about 35 employees in 2010 to a high of about 250 by the start of 2019. These were well paying jobs with great benefits directly linked to shale development. To conclude the Utica Shale has had a negative impact on Ohio, simply does not reflect the reality we and many other businesses have experienced.”
In Ohio, the report focuses on seven counties between 2008-2019: Belmont, Carroll, Jefferson, Harrison, Guernsey, Noble, and Monroe. According to the most recent available data from Ohio Development Services Agency, between 2008-2018:
- All seven counties experienced an increase in per capita personal income by an average of 36.67%.
- Harrison County experienced the largest income increase of 44.65%.
- Noble County experienced the smallest income increase of 20.84%.
- While population steadily declined in most of the counties since the mid-20th Century, the population decline stabilized in all seven counties in the past decade.
- Noble County experienced a population increase since the mid-20th Century.
Other studies have also reported findings that contradict claims made by the Ohio River Valley Institute:
- According to a study by the American Petroleum Institute, the oil and gas industry supports 262,800 jobs in Ohio.
- This study also finds that the oil and gas industry annually contributes $37.9 billion to Ohio’s economy.
- According to a study by The Ohio State University, Ohio has become a major domestic producer of oil and natural gas as intense production from the Marcellus and Utica Shale formations continue to expand.
- This study also reports that Ohio is home to two of the nation’s largest shale formations in the Marcellus shale and Utica shale, further exposing the opportunity for Ohio’s economy to expand in the decades to come.
- According to findings by U.S. Energy Information Administration, from 2012 to 2018, Ohio’s natural gas production increased 28-fold, with “almost all” of the state’s natural gas coming from the Utica shale.
- According to these same findings, Ohio currently ranks fifth in the United States in natural gas production.
- According to a study by the Global Energy Institute, banning fracturing would cost Ohio 700,000 jobs and $245 billion by 2025.
- According to this same study, Ohio household incomes would decline by $119 billion and the cost of living would increase by $5,625 per person.
- According to a study by Ohio University, Ohio’s shale industry contributed $22.34 billion to the state’s economy in 2015.
- This study also found that Ohio’s shale industry supported 147,126 full- and part-time jobs in 2015.
- A study by IHS predicts Ohio’s oil and gas industry will support more than 266,624 jobs by 2035.
- This study also found that “struggling rural areas” in Ohio are being transformed by the shale boom.
- The U.S. Energy Information Administration also finds that Ohio has four crude oil refineries, giving it the “seventh-largest crude oil-refining capacity in the nation.
- Their findings also state that 72.2% of Ohio homes are heated with natural gas, fuel oil, and propane.
- They also find that natural gas is used to help meet “increased demand” in winter to heat Ohio homes and businesses.
“Clearly, despite what this think tank’s report claims, the oil and gas industry creates hundreds of thousands of well-paying, steady jobs for Ohioans,” said Balderson. “This is further proof that the Biden Administration should actually support America’s job-creating energy industry rather than actively working to dismantle it.”