I was fortunate enough to moderate the panel discussion entitled the “Ohio Energy Forum: The impact of shale exploration, drilling and extraction on companies doing business in Ohio”, hosted by McDonald Hopkins in Cleveland. Governor Tom Ridge kicked off the Forum by sharing his thoughts on the importance of shale energy to the State, Region and Nation.
Here are a few of my key take-aways from the Governor’s talk.
- Shale energy is not a bridge technology. Governor Ridge positioned shale energy as a transformational technology that would help or nation on the path toward energy independence. [Caveat – the Governor was also quick to point out that energy independence is a journey and there is no pressing need to stop importing energy from allied countries like Canada.] The Governor pointed out that shale energy could be the fundamental fuel for the next 50-years and should be developed with that expectation in mind. Shale energy is an engine of growth for the Region and our National economy. The Governor characterized natural gas as the fuel of the 21st century.
- Decreasing the world’s reliance on OPEC managed oil is good, and will make our Nation safer. Minimizing the negative impact of “energy diplomacy” will help the U.S. and allied nations become more self-determinant in their economic growth. GDP growth requires access to affordable energy, and development of shale energy provides a unique opportunity to reduce the need for importing increasingly expensive foreign oil.
- Responsible development is a must. Making shale energy available requires an industrial process. Appropriate safeguards need to be in place to ensure safe operation, and the industry needs to be as transparent as possible with the public when problems occur. I also believe it is critical that community leaders strive to make fact-based rather than fear-based decisions and seek to collaborate with industry leadership to find win:win solutions. The Governor framed this as a challenge to educate the public on the bigger picture benefits development of shale energy offers rather than simply emphasizing the job growth potential.
While his company was not the focus of the Governor’s talk, you can read even more about perspective by visiting the Ridge Policy Group website. The first sentence under the Energy and Environment paragraph on the home page succinctly summarizes the overarching thought.
“The sustainability of our domestic energy supply is vital to our country’s economic future and our homeland security.”
It is interesting that at the same time the McDonald Hopkins hosted Forum was taking place, President Obama issued an Executive Order establishing a working group to recommend natural gas policies and regulations. While the focus is intended to be on streamlining the country’s energy policy and elimination of redundant regulations, it will be interesting to see what the ultimate recommendations are and how they relate to state level regulations. My fingers are crossed that it doesn’t devolve into a “kill it with good intentions” exercise.
No matter what comes out of this working group, my guess is you can bet there will be a lot of discussion in the press about whether the federal government or state government should be regulating the industry. Hopefully everybody involved will, as Stephen Covey would likely advise, begin with the end in mind and keep their eyes on focused on the bigger picture so well articulated by the Ridge Policy Group.
If you have an interest, you can listen to Governor Ridge’s talk and the subsequent panel discussion by clicking this link –
It will give you a good perspective on the business opportunities presented by the Utica and Marcellus Shale plays in Ohio. There is a wide range of topics covered by the panelists.
Fun Facts About Energy
- About 92% of the energy consumed in the U.S. comes from non-renewable sources.
- In 2010, 51% of the U.S. crude oil production came from 5 states.
- In 2010, the U.S. produced about 5.5M barrels of oil a day and imported about 9.2M barrels a day.
- Renewable energy sources provide 8% of the energy used in the U.S.
- About 25% of energy used in the U.S. came from natural gas in 2010.
What Are Your Thoughts?
Do you think the U.S. should have a national energy policy? Is there a role for both non-renewable and renewable energy sources over the next 50- 100 years? Does it have to be an either-or choice, or is it an AND choice? How educated do you feel the American public is on energy sources and uses? How important is energy independence to a nation’s security and economic growth? How will the decisions around development of shale energy impact the equity of Brand America?
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