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Ohioans should welcome safe drilling boom

November 29, 2011
Salem News

Ohio already has some of the strongest oil and gas drilling regulations in the nation, according to the state Department of Natural Resources. But new technologies and the ongoing gas drilling boom have prompted state officials to reexamine their rules. Recommendations for new ones should be in place early next year.

As officials in other states, including West Virginia, could have warned their counterparts in Ohio, that sets up a confrontation between environmentalists and the drilling industry. It already has begun in Ohio, with the issue of hydraulic fracturing of wells at the dispute's center.

Reasonable concerns, such as how large amounts of fluid used in "fracking" will be disposed of, have been raised. So have ridiculous ones, such as a claim "fracking" causes earthquakes.

It is possible for the state to have regulations that safeguard the public while keeping Ohio in a competitive position to enjoy the drilling boom's benefits. That, not a futile attempt to please all parties involved, should be state officials' goal.

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Throwing away half a billion dollars on alternative energy projects such as the failed Solyndra solar power company in California doesn't seem to faze President Barack Obama's administration. But providing a like amount to conduct research on coal and other fossil fuels? Not acceptable to the White House.

Obama seems determined to squeeze the life out of the coal industry in a sort of Catch-22: Enforce draconian new air pollution rules, then cut funding for research to find ways to burn coal more cleanly.

During the 2011 fiscal year, Congress provided $586 million for fossil energy projects. Obama wants to slash that to $452.9 million - 25 percent reduction. Meanwhile, the president wants billions of dollars for unrealistic solar, wind power and other alternatives that are not really options.

Americans still rely on coal for nearly half the electricity we consume. Even with vast new resources of natural gas becoming available, coal will have to remain a mainstay for many years to come.

Yet Obama and liberals in Congress, who want to reduce fossil fuel research even more than the White House plan, seem determined to make that impossible. Virtually every American would pay dearly and some state economies would collapse if they are successful.

If anything, more federal funds should be devoted to fossil fuel research. Congress should reject Obama's attempt to strangle the industry.

 
 

 

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