Natural gas holds great promise

Natural gas holds great promise

I hope the Vindicator’s readers found time to read the July 30 article, “$3.2M windfall from drilling delights county leaders.” This article illustrates the tangible effect natural gas production can have on our economy. By leasing out 550 acres of land, Columbiana County is now able to pay for much-needed improvements, like paving the parking lot and fixing the heating system at the local courthouse and replacing the county jail’s roof.

Thanks to the economic boost that natural gas provides, all of these improvements were accomplished without increasing the burden on taxpayers. This model can and should be replicated by other cash-strapped counties in Ohio. I urge local leadership to follow Columbiana County’s lead by exploring how natural gas production can provide relief.

The numbers are powerful. A 2011 study conducted by IHS Global Insight found that unconventional gas in Ohio was responsible for $3.04 billion in value-added economic output in 2010. That number is projected to increase to $7.92 billion by 2035. And beyond helping build infrastructure and make critical public sector repairs, the economic influx from natural gas companies will create jobs for Ohioans — more than 81,000 by 2035, according to the IHS study.

This is an opportunity Ohio must capitalize on. State budget cuts have resulted in a loss of revenue for counties. Now is the time to be creative about how to continue to provide public services while balancing the demands on Ohio taxpayers. As Columbiana County has shown, natural gas may be the answer.

Chuck Blasdel, East Liverpool

The writer was the Republican state representative from Ohio’s 1st District from 2001 through 2006.