In the wake of oil and gas drilling becoming permissible on state-owned land throughout Ohio, industry supporters are forming the Ohio Shale Coalition (OSC) to tout the economic benefits of developing the Marcellus and Utica shales while also countering the claims of detractors.
Jenn Klein, director of energy and environmental policy for the Ohio Chamber of Commerce, told NGI's Shale Daily that the OSC will also contract with universities in the state to conduct an economic development impact study, with preliminary results to be published in September.
"We're still figuring out the details of exactly how this is all going to work, but everyone seems to agree that it makes sense to have a broad-based coalition to start out," Klein said Thursday. "This is not going to be an advocacy organization. We're going to be a grassroots group conducting outreach education, to combat all of the massive misinformation that is out there."
Klein said the chamber helped set up the OSC at the behest of Republican Gov. John Kasich, an industry supporter. The chamber held an invitation-only meeting at its headquarters in Columbus earlier this month to launch the coalition, with Ohio Department of Natural Resources Director David Mustine serving as opening speaker.
"We had more than 100 businesses, economic development groups and local governments represented, and a dozen or so more said they wanted to attend but couldn't because of previous engagements," Klein said. "We have very broad support. A lot of folks want to participate."
Klein said the economic development impact study would be conducted by more than one university in Ohio, but he declined to identify which ones the OSC was in discussions with.
"Sometime in the next week or two we will probably have that list finalized," Klein said. "We're looking at several of our state universities and what their strengths are. We also still need to decide the scope of the study, but it will really be the base for our educational tools, forums and media information going forward."
According to Klein, the OSC's leadership structure was also still in the works.
"There are still details that need to be worked out, but we wanted to get folks thinking about it," Klein said. "We really want folks to have buy-in and feel like they are a part of this process."
The Ohio Senate passed a bill Wednesday allowing oil and gas leasing on land owned by the state, including state parks but excluding nature preserves. It is widely held that Kasich will sign the bill as a method to generate revenue for Ohio, currently facing an $8 billion deficit (see Shale Daily, June 16; May 26; May 23; March 8).