Ohio, like much of the Midwest, is currently experiencing a natural gas renaissance. The extraction method known as hydraulic fracturing (fracking for short) has pumped millions into state coffers, provided thousands of jobs, and given the state economy a much needed lift in recent years.
Fracking’s benefits, however, hit a bit closer to home. The Toledo Blade reports:
“Columbia Gas of Ohio said this January’s average residential heating bill will be $142.19 to $146.19 for the 1.4 million households it serves, many of them in northwest Ohio…
…Based on current usage patterns, applied to Columbia’s January, 2005, and 2006 rates for natural gas, this month’s average residential bills would likely have been somewhere between $234.15 and $324.95.
That’s 65 to 129 percent more.”
This feat is possible thanks to the continually exceptional production of natural gas in Ohio.
Sometimes simple truths get lost in lofty rhetoric, facts, and figures. In one of the coldest winters in recent memory fracking is helping families stay safe and warm. Safe is an important term in this case. Even though fracking has seen some political backlash, Ohio’s own EPA remains unconvinced that fracking poses any health risks.
According to Michael Snee, the division chief of the Ohio Department of Health, “The material (fracking by-products) is being put thousands of feet down. It’s not coming back up where it will be in contact with anybody.”
This confidence in fracking’s safety explains why regulators in Ohio are eager to fast-track fracking permits, allowing over 660 wells to be drilled since 2010.
Having already produced 78.9 billion cubic feet of natural in 2011, production has been increasing thanks to growing production of Utica Shale gas. If production continues to increase, it can be expected that economic benefits will also increase.
Unfortunately the Ohio legislature is currently considering House Bill 375, a bill which would raise some gas production tax rates, but has been rated to be overall revenue neutral. Worse, there are some spending interests which are pushing to make HB 375 a net tax increase so they can divvy up the plunder among the localities.
With any luck residents of Ohio will continue to see the benefits of a free and vibrant energy market.