Ohio Shale Summit To Welcome Industry Glad-Handing Tomorrow

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Tomorrow, Crain's Cleveland Business, WVIZ and WCPN will host the Ohio Shale Summit, a meeting of minds as supposedly diverse as former Shell Oil Company President John Hofmeister, Western Reserve Land Conservancy CEO Rick Cochran and viewers like you.

“The Utica Shale and Ohio: Getting it Right” is a daylong conversation about the who, what, when, where and why of shale oil drilling in our state.

Mike McIntrye, who hosts The Sound of Ideas daily at 9 a.m. on WCPN, welcomed the above speakers onto his show this morning to talk shop. Taken as an aperitif to tomorrow's bacchanalia, the conversation illuminates a troubling one-sidedness to the issue.

The Network for Oil and Gas Accountability and Protection, a statewide nonprofit, would concur. Their concern lies in the summit's title: "Getting It Right," which eludes to a foregone conclusion that widespread hydraulic fracturing ("fracking," colloquially) and shale oil drilling is an inevitability in Ohio. Environmental activists and advocates for, say, clean drinking water maintain an ongoing fight against the encroachment of that industry.

“The industry’s own data show that they can’t get it right; they can’t prevent well casing failures. They don’t know how to build leak-proof wells. Well casing failures open pathways for gas and other toxins to get into the groundwater. Data from Pennsylvania show that six percent of well casings fail immediately, and 100 percent fail over the lifetime of the well. This demonstrated failure rate will have substantial business and economic impacts for all of Ohio.”

That's Vanessa Pesec, president of the Network for Oil and Gas Accountability and Protection, with a look to what our neighbor Pennsylvania has experienced.

Nonetheless, Ohio's own shale oil boom is very much under way. The Ohio Supreme Court ruled last week that the Ohio Oil and Gas Commission may not grant appeals on drilling permits once they are issued. In many ways, a ruling like that paves a golden road to unlimited devotion to shale oil drilling, sure to be focused across Ohio's easternmost counties.

Afternoon panels at the summit will include:

- How a business gets certified to sell to the shale industry
- Investment opportunities in the Utica Shale
- The balance between the economic benefit of hydraulic fracturing and environmental safety
- The impact this industry is having on Ohio’s workforce

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