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An Op-Ed Published In The Marietta Times
By Senator JD Vance  |  August 26, 2023

In a time of grinding inflation, increasing energy costs and continuing global instability, we Ohioans are lucky to live on top of the Utica Shale oil and gas basin.

Stretching across Appalachian Ohio and into our neighboring states, the Utica Shale is a vast, underground reserve of energy containing an estimated 38 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, 940 million barrels of oil and 208 million barrels of natural gas liquids. While it would traditionally be impossible to access these energy deposits buried deep underground, new technologies like horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing have allowed us to unleash these abundant natural resources. If utilized fully, this massive reserve of energy has the potential to fuel high quality job growth and regional development in Ohio. Thankfully, utilization of the Utica Shale is already happening in Ohio’s Columbiana County. Four wells in Hanover Township set new oil production records at the start of the year with over 225,000 barrels pumped, suggesting they hit the sweet spot. Oil production across Ohio increased by almost 12 percent over the same period, and the numbers are even more impressive if you measure them against last year. Compared to the first part of 2022, Utica Shale oil production increased by 65 percent in 2023. The Shale represents America’s next energy boom and Ohio is well-positioned to make it happen.

I believe that right now is the time to double down on the Ohio energy industry. In order to maximize output in the Utica Shale, oil and gas producers require new infrastructure – pipelines and refineries, large and small. We need less red tape and fewer restrictions from the federal government. The project permitting reforms made by the recent Fiscal Responsibility Act of 2023 are a good start, but they do not go far enough to accelerate the construction of new energy infrastructure.

Meanwhile, the Biden administration is doing everything it can to subsidize alternative energy sources and demonize our nation’s most reliable sources of power. In an effort to discourage investment in oil and gas companies, President Biden has weaponized the Securities and Exchange Commission to mandate environmental, social and governance (ESG) scores on publicly traded companies. Additionally, a bevy of onerous new Environmental Protection Agency emissions rules are clamping down on power plants, truck engines and everything in between. The Biden years have thus far been defined by his administration’s wanton harassment of fossil fuel companies, to the detriment of the American people. A war on traditional American energy is a war on the American standard of living. The Biden administration’s anti-energy crusade has very real impacts on the everyday lives of Ohioans. Power outages were once rare in this country, often precipitated by a natural disaster or extreme weather event. Recently, however, a particularly warm summer day or cold winter night could be enough to tax our energy grid to the breaking point, exposing our poor and elderly fellow citizens to dangerous conditions in their own homes. Our baseload energy production capacity is declining as gas-fired power plants close at a distressing rate, and a lack of new transmission lines makes it harder to move energy when emergencies arise. This is not the country I grew up in and it is not the future our children deserve.

Many of our elected leaders are telling Americans that we need to make do with less, that the days of cheap and reliable power are over. I vehemently disagree. Our government should reverse these dangerous trends and unleash our energy industry by investing the type of infrastructure projects that have kept America’s lights on for decades.

I am proud that Ohio is leading the way to a brighter future by tapping the Utica Shale, and I will not stop fighting for our energy industry to receive the infrastructure it needs to fuel our economy.

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