Yesterday, the Ohio Governor's 21st Century and Economic Summit began, hosted by the controversial union-busting Governor John Kasich (R-OH), coming on the heels of an oil and natural gas funded study claiming that claimed, as the Cleveland Plain Dealer put it, “Ohio's natural gas and oil reserves are a multibillion-dollar bonanza that could create more than 204,500 jobs.”
The “study” was written by the Ohio Oil and Gas Energy Education Program (OOGEEP), which, according to its website, “is funded exclusively by Ohio's crude oil and natural gas producers and royalty owners.”
Quite the objective source, indeed. The summit, which concludes today, is hosted by Battelle Memorial Institute, located in Columbus, Ohio. The Plain Dealer explains that the summit is “designed to open discussions about Ohio's use of coal, natural gas and renewable energy technologies such as solar and wind as well as state-mandated energy efficiency rules.”
Titled “Ohio’s Natural Gas and Crude Oil Exploration and Production Industry and the Emerging Utica Gas Formation Economic Impact Study,” the timing of its release seems suspect, to say the least, based on this premise.
In a recent interview with ClimateWire, Kasich offered his take on the inherent ecological harms associated with natural gas drilling from cradle – when the sand is mined for fracking, to grave – when the gas is actually burned, saying, “There's no problem with fracking. I dismiss that.”
An unsurprising remark, to say the least.
Kasich: A Very “Natural” Gas and Oil Industry Favorite
ALEC, many will remember, is now the subject of great scrutiny thanks in large part to the Center for Media and Democracy's (CMD) ALEC Exposed project, an online database of 800 pieces of ALEC “model legislation” given to CMD by a whistleblower.
During his break between serving as a member of the U.S. Congress and winning the 2010 gubernatorial election in Ohio, Kasich was a Fox News personality, serving as host of “Heartland with John Kasich.”
In his 2010 gubernatorial electoral campaign, according to FollowTheMoney.org, Kasich scored over $1 million in campaign cash from the broadly defined “energy and natural resources” industries. Nearly one-third of this $1 million came via the hands of the oil and gas industry.
The natural gas industry is big business in Ohio, located in the heart of both the Utica and Marcellus Shale basins – and Kasich, based on his career trajectory, is the perfect man to do the industry's bidding.
Like any summit put on by the oil and gas industry, this one has received hefty support from industry heavyweights. Sponsors include Chesapeake Energy, America's Natural Gas Alliance, Anadarko Petroleum Corporation, Peabody Energy, and Duke Energy, to name several.
Also included in the sponsors list is the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), a head-scratching sponsorship which the Big Green organization will have to justify to the environmental movement at-large, as it has made a conscious decision to team up with known polluters of water in sponsoring this summit. Not that behavior of this sort is out of the ordinary for the NRDC. Far from it, according to a just-released report by the New York based Independent Coalition of Citizens Against Fracking.
Chesapeake Energy's Aubrey McClendon In the House
Chesapeake Energy's Aubrey McClendon also made a token appearance at the summit, speaking on a panel titled “Impact of the Marcellus and Utica Shales on the Ohio Economy.”
The Utica Shale is a major piece in Chesapeake's natural gas portfolio, as stated in a July 2011 press release,
Chesapeake believes that its industry-leading 1.25 million net leasehold acres in the Utica Shale play could be worth $15 - $20 billion in increased value to the company…Chesapeake is currently drilling in the Utica Shale with five operated rigs to further evaluate and develop its leasehold and anticipates increasing its rig count to eight by the end of 2011 and reaching at least a range of 16-20 rigs by year-end 2012. Also, the company believes that its leasehold position in the Utica Shale will support a drilling effort of at least 40 rigs by year-end 2014.
Certainly good at making money, Chesapeake also has another specialty – tax dodging.
Although it earned $2.8 billion in 2010, according to the Securities and Exchange Commission, as noted in a recent report by the Institute for Policy Studies, Chesapeake paid no corporate income taxes in 2010. McClendon's paycheck for 2010 was $21 million.
Kasich, McClendon, and the Utica Shale – Let the Gold Rush Begin!
In June 2010, the Marcellus Shale Coalition referred to fracking for natural gas in the Marcellus Shale as a “modern day gold rush“ and the Utica Shale looks to be the industry's next target in the “gold rush.”
Kasich, ALEC, and McClendon – with friends like these, anything is possible for the reckless fossil fuel industry's new favorite fuel.