Ohio plays a critical role in the surge in natural gas production in the U.S., and the clean, low-cost fuel continues to deliver significant benefits to Ohioans and all Americans. New statistics underscore just how much the Buckeye State gains from natural gas.
Savings alone from lower natural gas prices added up to over $54.4 billion from 2006-2018, and that’s more than 35 percent higher — or $14.2 billion more — than the savings estimated two years earlier. For the latest period, Ohio residents saved $20.3 billion and commercial and industrial users upwards of $34.1 billion, a Consumer Energy Alliance study found.
Besides those substantial savings, Ohio’s natural gas industry also fuels the state’s economy, creates high-paying jobs, provides local government tax revenues, supports national security economically and with critical infrastructure like pipelines, drives a manufacturing rebirth and, yes, improves Ohio’s air quality.
Consider this fact alone: In the past decade, the supply of natural gas produced in Ohio’s backyard has generated more than 85 percent of U.S. production growth. Independent estimates indicate that our shale region will supply nearly half of all U.S. natural gas production by 2040.
Ohioans should be proud of this contribution to record U.S. natural gas production. But, lest we forget, natural gas delivers these other specific contributions:
• Bolsters Ohio’s economy through an investment of more than $15.9 billion in new natural gas-fired power generation since 2017, with 10 state-of-the-art power plants operational or under construction and delivering over 9.2 gigawatts of electricity;
• Generates countless jobs and billions in wages in the state, reflecting a 90% rise in core shale-related employment from 2011-2019, when all other Ohio industries posted only an 8.1% increase in jobs. Shale-related jobs have an average wage of $83,753, more than twice as much as other industries; and
• Decreases Ohio’s emissions considerably across the board, supporting a 94% drop in sulfur dioxide, a 74% decline in carbon monoxide, a 72% reduction in nitrogen oxide, 66% drop in volatile organic compounds and a 16% decline in carbon dioxide emissions over two decades.
In addition, natural gas producers and others within the industry give back to the communities where their employees work and live, and this support makes a profound difference to food banks, first responders, educators.
So often, the headlines emphasize the attacks against the natural gas industry from energy extremists, and we forget about the immense contributions it has made in the decade since reliance on foreign imports saddled Ohio and all American families, farmers and businesses with high prices.
We should be celebrating and supporting the vital natural gas production that will keep Ohio thriving, especially as we examine our nation’s critical need to reinvigorate U.S. supply chains, bolster jobs in essential industries and boost our economy as we recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. Natural gas will be needed now more than ever if we are going to make more essential products in America and create the jobs that go with them.
Chris Ventura is midwest director of the Consumer Energy Alliance, a U.S. consumer advocate supporting affordable, reliable energy for working families, seniors, and businesses across the country.