You have reached your limit of free articles this month.

Enjoy unlimited access to

Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks.


  • ePAPER

You have read of premium articles.

Get unlimited access to all of our breaking news, in-depth coverage and interactive features. Starting at just 99c for 8 weeks.


Welcome to

Your source for Clark and Champaign counties’ hometown news. All readers have free access to a limited number of stories every month.

If you are a News-Sun subscriber, please take a moment to login for unlimited access.

breaking news

Dale Earnhardt Jr. to retire from NASCAR following 2017

Ohio natural gas boom brings growth, risk

Ohio is part of a natural gas boom that could make the U.S. an “energy superpower,” with an abundance of low-cost fuel for homes, businesses and vehicles that also contributes to jobs and economic growth, industry experts said.

But environmental groups have raised concerns about the controversial drilling process used to extract the resource from natural gas-rich shale rock beneath three-quarters of the state.

Horizontal well drilling and hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” have dramatically altered the outlook for U.S. natural gas over the past five years, according to the American Gas Association, a Washington D.C-based trade group. Thirty-three states are now producing shale gas, with domestic production accounting for 93 percent of natural gas consumed in the U.S.

Once considered to be in danger of depletion, the U.S. natural gas resource base is believed to be sufficient to last 100 years at current consumption rates, the AGA said. Costs have fallen, and the price is expected to grow very slowly over the next 20 years, remaining below that of other fuels.

Average bill amounts for Vectren Energy Delivery customers in southwest Ohio have dropped 35 percent since the winter of 2008-09 because of lower natural gas prices, company officials said.

“Even with very aggressive demand growth, we can expect to see low and stable natural gas prices for decades to come,” said Kathryn Clay, the American Gas Association’s vice president of policy strategy.

In Ohio, oil and gas exploration is centered on the Marcellus and Utica shale rock formations that underlie the eastern half of the state.

The most recent data available shows Ohio had 397 horizontal shale wells operating during the fourth quarter of last year, 352 of which reported production results, according to ODNR. The other 45 wells were waiting on pipeline infrastructure.

The 352 wells produced a total of 1.4 million barrels of oil and 43.1 million Mcf (1,000 cubic feet) of natural gas during the fourth quarter. Oil production increased by 8 percent and natural gas production increased by 28 percent compared to the third quarter, according to ODNR.

Ohio Environmental Council spokesman Jack Shaner said there are “a lot of positives to the shale gas discovery,” but the priority remains the public’s health and safety, and air and water quality. The Columbus-based environmental advocacy group has proposed a sweeping upgrade to Ohio oil and gas laws to better protect state residents from the risks of horizontal, hydraulic fracturing.

In March, the former owner of a Youngstown-based waste water company pleaded guilty to dumping thousands of gallons of fracking waste water into a northeast Ohio storm sewer that empties into the Mahoning River watershed.

In April, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources announced new, stronger permit conditions for drilling near faults or areas of past seismic activity. The new policies were in response to a series of small earthquakes in Poland Twp. in Mahoning County that showed “a probable connection to hydraulic fracturing near a previously unknown microfault.”

The Ohio Environmental Council favors natural gas vehicles and combined heat-and-power systems. “Those are worthy uses of (natural) gas, and we should take advantage of those,” Shaner said. “But we also need to continually be monitoring and improving industry practices and strengthening the laws to make sure we are protecting the air we breathe, the water we drink and the land we play on.”

Growth opportunities related to natural gas include cleaner electricity generation, natural gas vehicles and combined heat-and-power systems for industry, experts said.

According to Vectren, the direct use of natural gas in America’s homes and businesses achieves 92 percent energy efficiency, and households with natural gas produce 37 percent lower greenhouse gas emissions than those with all-electric appliances.

The Center for American Progress predicts natural gas will fuel nearly half of all heavy-duty trucks, one-fifth of all medium-duty trucks, nearly half of all school buses, and two-thirds of transit buses by 2035.

The fastest growing natural gas vehicle segment is waste collection and transfer vehicles.

Rumpke Waste & Recycling currently operates 41 compressed natural gas (CNG) collection trucks based in Colerain Twp. in Hamilton County, up from 10 CNG trucks originally purchased in 2011, said Sara Cullin, a company spokeswoman.

“We are closely evaluating strategic opportunities for growing this segment of our fleet, especially possibilities in the Dayton area,” Cullin said. The region’s first retail natural gas fueling station, which opened in mid-April on Needmore Road in Harrison Twp., “makes Dayton a prime location,” she said.

Currently, there are 23 natural gas stations in Ohio, 20 of which are open to the public. A second retail natural gas fueling station is planned for downtown Dayton.

In a recent report, the AGA said much of current natural gas regulation was developed during a time of perceived scarcity. Clay said “smart decisions about our nation’s energy future” will involve removing barriers to greater use of natural gas and proactively exploring ways to grow demand.

Reader Comments ...

Next Up in News

Gambling addiction: Ohio named a top state
Gambling addiction: Ohio named a top state

Ohio is a top state when it comes to gambling addiction, a new report shows. Ohio tied with New Jersey for fourth place for having the highest percentage of adults with a gambling disorder, according to a report form WalletHub, a personal finance website. Ohio is ranked the 10th most gambling addicted state in the country, right behind Louisiana and...
Project Jericho sheds light on Main Street in Springfield
Project Jericho sheds light on Main Street in Springfield

Never mind flashlights, lamps or spotlights. Poetry, photography and watercolor art will do the shining in this case. Project Jericho’s Light on Main will showcase the artistic skills of 30 students inspired by several people and places they visited on West Main Street in downtown Springfield. The work will be on display 5-6 p.m. Thursday, April...
Panera Bread to hire 10,000 as it expands delivery locations
Panera Bread to hire 10,000 as it expands delivery locations

Panera Bread Co. will hire 10,000 new employees by the end of 2017 as it expands its delivery service, the company said in a statement Monday. According to Panera, the company is planning to expand delivery options to 35 to 40 percent of its locations. It now delivers at 15 percent of its locations. Panera president Blaine Hurst says each café...
Dale Earnhardt Jr. to retire from NASCAR following 2017
Dale Earnhardt Jr. to retire from NASCAR following 2017

After 18 seasons and more than 600 races behind the wheel, Dale Earnhardt Jr. will bring his NASCAR Cup Series driving career to a close at the conclusion of 2017. Today, he shared the news with members of his No. 88 Hendrick Motorsports team. >> Read more trending news The fan favorite and two-time Daytona 500 champion will discuss his decision...
Boy, 13, dies after dirt bike crash
Boy, 13, dies after dirt bike crash

Jonathan Gonzalez loved being outside. Like many 13-year-olds, the Wellington, Florida, resident loved football, basketball, fishing and just being with friends. On Sunday he told his mother, Maria, he was going outside for a bit. Like she told him every time he’d go out to play, she said “Be careful.” Gonzalez recounted how...
More Stories