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Ohio Governor Becomes Shale Gas Cheerleader

September 26, 2011
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The promise that shale natural gas holds to transform Ohio's economy -- and that of the nation -- is too great to dismiss because of "misconceptions" about hydraulic fracturing (fracking), Gov. John Kasich said Thursday.

The governor presided over a two-day energy summit Wednesday and Thursday, which featured energy industry, government and academia experts. One thing is for sure, the governor said. Fracking has changed the domestic supply outlook and the possibilities for Ohio now appear endless. And there's no going back, he told the audience at The Ohio State University.

"We cannot stop fracking," Kasich said. Gas drilling has to be -- and can be -- done in a way that isn't harmful to the environment or else "we'll never forgive ourselves."

The governor said he didn't know how many jobs could be created from more gas drilling in Ohio, but a study issued on Tuesday indicated that more than 200,000 jobs could be created by 2015 (see Shale Daily, Sept. 23).

"I want to make sure we are steady in this," Kasich said. "I don't want to get ahead of the curve." The shale industry in Ohio "is going to develop over time. It may accelerate over time. I am optimistic."

Chesapeake Energy Corp. CEO Aubrey McClendon, whose company is the top driller in the United States, also is optimistic about the state's gas potential. McClendon said Wednesday a "reasonable" estimate of the Utica Shale is $500 billion (see Shale Daily, Sept. 22). The deep shale play, which underlies parts of the massive Marcellus Shale, extends into portions of Kentucky, Maryland, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, West Virginia and Virginia, as well as beneath parts of Lake Ontario, Lake Erie, and part of Ontario and Quebec.

In addition to promoting shale drilling, Kasich revealed that Ohio is in discussions with neighboring states on an ambitious plan to convert multi-state vehicle fleets to run on natural gas. A cooperative conversion would boost demand for the region's massive shale formations, he said. Ohio officials are working separately on a comprehensive energy plan that is expected to be unveiled next spring.

However, in addition to creating a plan for Ohio's energy future, Kasich said he has spoken with Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett, who presides over the Marcellus Shale, about the vehicle conversion proposal. Ohio staff also has discussed the natural gas conversion idea with Indiana and Michigan leaders, Kasich said. The Honda Civic natural gas vehicle, which is the only natural gas-fueled mass market passenger car now sold in the United States, is manufactured in Indiana.

Kasich even hinted that Ohio might have the resources to attract another natural gas vehicle manufacturing firm. "Maybe some of those new cars will be built in Ohio," he told the crowd.

Ohio's government fleet has more than 12,000 vehicles that potentially could be converted to run on natural gas. According to the Department of Energy, there are more than 114,000 vehicles in the country now running on compressed natural gas.

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