Eastern Ohio businessman Mike Sliva is hoping a balance can be struck between the economic benefits of the state’s shale gas boom and environmental issues raised by critics of the drilling process used to force oil and natural gas out of the ground.
I heard Sliva make that point Wednesday at a shale gas forum sponsored by the Columbus Metropolitan Club. He is branch manager for PNC Bank in Cadiz, a little town in the center of the Utica shale play. He also is president of the Cadiz Community Improvement Corp. in Harrison County, which sits up in the hills about 25 miles west of Steubenville and the Ohio River.
“We need jobs greatly,” Sliva said, “but we’re not going to sacrifice the environment at the same time.”
But he doesn’t want to put the brakes on shale gas development like many environmentalists do.
“Our concerns are we need to do it right,” Sliva said, “but we’re moving forward. We don’t want to slow the industry. We need an open dialogue and to solve these issues.”
He was part of a discussion on environmental issues involved in horizontal hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, in the Utica shale play. Keith Dimoff, executive director of the Ohio Environmental Council, took up the side of environmentalists, saying oil and gas wells are being drilled in eastern Ohio even though the state is playing catch-up to ensure fracking doesn’t damage the land, air quality and groundwater.
“There are real environmental and health risks to citizens of Ohio,” Dimoff said. “We need to take a step back and ask if this is the right way to go.”
But Sliva countered that Harrison County, once dependent on coal mining, needs the help that oil and gas development can deliver now after 25 to 30 years of hard economic times in the region.Read the rest of the article here.
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