Summer Savings and Huge Air Quality Improvements On Tap For Ohio — Thanks to Fracking

by Jackie Stewart, Energy in Depth

From northeast Ohio to southwest Ohio, increased use of natural gas is proving a major benefit to consumers, businesses, taxpayers and — most importantly — the environment.
Over the past two weeks, news has broke that three major Ohio job creators — MillerCoors BrewingWright Patterson Air Force Base and Cleveland Thermal — have invested more than $34 million combined in converting their boilers to natural gas. By doing so, 94 buildings in downtown Cleveland will be heated by shale gas and Cincinnati motorists are expected to save $44 million in fuel costs. And for the first time in 10 years, southwest Ohio will be in attainment of air quality standards, all thanks to fracking.
In northeast Ohio, the Cleveland Plain Dealer reports that Cleveland Thermal, which has been supplying thermal heating and district cooling to Cleveland since 1894, has converted 100 percent to natural gas. Essentially the city of Cleveland has gone from using wagons of firewood for heating needs in the 1800s to 100 percent natural gas today, thanks to advances in technology and environmental improvements that have become readily available and economic. Indeed, a shift to natural gas boilers became a win-win for business and the environment, as the Plain Dealer reported that,
“Marc Divis, president of Cleveland Thermal, said switching to natural gas will reduce the company’s carbon dioxide emissions by 49,200 tons a year. That’s an 84 percent reduction and the equivalent of planting a dense 19,000 acre forest.”
On the other side of the state in Trenton, Ohio, MillerCoors Brewing Company has made similar business decisions. Ohio’s largest brewery spent more than $10 million switching their boilers to natural gas in an effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and reduce overhead costs. As a result, the company reported that its greenhouse gas emissions decreased 37 percent, nitrogen oxide emissions dropped 88 percent and sulfur dioxide emissions decreased 96 percent last year.
During the same period of time, Wright Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton completed its multi-year conversion to natural gas as well. The switch to natural gas is expected to eliminate 1,000 tons of sulfur dioxide emissions, 200 tons of nitrogen oxides, five tons of particulate emissions and 290,000 tons of greenhouse gas emissions. As a result, the base proudly announced it would meet Clean Air Act regulations while saving $2 million a year in fuel costs, again demonstrating the win-win for the environment and for taxpayers who ultimately fund the base.
MillerCoors and Wright Patterson Air Force Base’s shift to natural gas has resulted in another major win for the greater Cincinnati, Dayton and Springfield areas, where motorist will see a 12 cent reduction in gas prices this summer.  This is a significant change of events, as for the last 10 years motorist in this southwest Ohio have paid more for gas in the summer due to the region’s poor air quality.
Cincinnati has long been a target of air quality woes but now — thanks to the use of natural gas from fracking — the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency has announced that the region is finally in attainment of ozone regulations.
Brad Miller, the assistant director of the Southwest Ohio Air Quality Agency said,
“We are now in attainment, which means we meet the air quality standards, for all six of the national air quality standards the U.S. EPA has established. This the first time many years we have been in attainment.”
Craig Butler, head of the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency, also said of the summertime gas prices,
 “We were able to make a very scientific case back to the federal EPA that we can relieve consumers from this hidden expense, and still see all of the environmental improvements, by these two facilities changing their boilers to natural gas.”
Ohio State Representative Bill Seitz was so thrilled with the news of lower gas prices this summer that he declared the news “Motorist Freedom Day.”

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