An update on lawmaker action and other activities at the Ohio Statehouse related to horizontal hydraulic fracturing:
Natural-gas cars: The Ohio House began hearings on legislation to give tax breaks to consumers and businesses for purchasing new vehicles or converting existing ones to run on natural gas.
HB 336 also would provide incentives for the purchase of electric vehicles and phase in motor-fuel tax collections for compressed natural gas.
The bipartisan legislation has more than 60 co-sponsors, including its two primary sponsors, state Reps. Dave Hall, R-Milllersburg, and Sean O’Brien, D-Brookfield.
It’s aimed at taking advantage of increased oil and natural-gas production in eastern Ohio’s emerging shale oil fields.
“Ohio has an enormous opportunity present in shale — an opportunity which many states can only dream of having,” Hall said.
“But unlike our friends to the east, west and south, we aren’t fully harnessing the potential of natural gas after it has been developed. HB 336 would greatly improve Ohio’s existing alternative fuels policy and has the right mix of incentives to spark investment. Passing this policy sends a clear message to car owners and companies everywhere: Ohio is CNG-friendly.”
Severance-tax talk: The Ohio Farm Bureau Federation took positions on a number of policy issues, including one related to taxes on oil and gas produced via horizontal hydraulic fracturing.
According to a released statement, delegates at the group’s annual meeting “prioritized how oil and gas severance-tax revenue should be used: First use should be for oil and gas regulatory programs, followed by local economic development and then income tax reduction.
Delegates also called for any tax credits offered on new severance taxes to proportionally benefit producers and landowners with royalty interests.”
Winter roads: A company is touting its road de-icer that is produced with brine from oil and gas production.
David Mansbery, president of Duck Creek Energy, based in Brecksville, says the company’s AquaSalina product “eliminates the need to use fresh water to make brine from rock salt” and “reduces the amount of rock salt and chlorides going into Ohio sewers, streams and lakes by 40 percent.”
The state is using the product on wintery roads in several districts.
“During this time of the year, state road crews and communities make their own brine by mixing fresh water and rock salt to de-ice roads. Many people are unaware that Ohio’s oil and gas industry is a large producer of natural brine that comes from conventionally drilled wells,” Rhonda Reda, executive director of the Ohio Oil and Gas Energy Education Program, said in a released statement.
“Brine water from conventionally drilled wells that meets state law can be used by communities for the purpose of de-icing roads.”
Production records: Upward of $2.7 billion in “geologic commodities,” including oil and natural gas, were produced in Ohio last year, according to a report released by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.
Among other findings, the agency said “natural-gas production increased 18.4 percent.”
More severance-tax talk: The Ohio House began deliberations to revamp taxes charged on oil and gas produced through fracking.
House Bill 375 calls for lower taxes on existing conventional wells and increasing rates on those drilled horizontally, with excess proceeds devoted to plugging abandoned wells and potentially cutting income-tax rates.
The legislation is a departure from a plan pursued by Gov. John Kasich, who sought a bigger increase in severance-tax rates on oil and gas produced through fracking, with the proceeds used for a tax cut.