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Shale may mean jobs and money for Ohio
Ancient shores lay one atop another under much of the state.  Over millions of years they've turned into shale.  Now they may yeild oil and gas.  But, some ask: at what price? 

Tim Rudell
Drill head for cutting through rock layers. A tool commonly associated with shale gas extraction
Courtesy of Chesapeake Energy
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In The Region:

A big player in gas exploration in eastern Ohio says test wells are showing billions of dollars in potential.  WKSU’s Tim Rudell has more on Chesapeake Energy’s announcement that it is upping its estimate of the value of oil and gas trapped in deep shale deposits under the region.

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Aubrey McClendon is Chesapeake’s CEO.  And he’s telling financial analysts that exploratory drilling into the Utica Shale, a layer of rock ten thousand feet below eastern Ohio, convinced his company there could be up to 20 billion dollars worth of oil and gas down there.  And he believes extracting it can be an economic boon for the region.  “We think our activity can help rejuvenate this area.  And we’re actually quite pleased with the quality of the work force; and the size of the work.  And of course there’s great transportation. We will create a lot of logistical issues, but we’ll handle them, and create 10,000 jobs while we do it.”

Analysts say Chesapeake’s estimates of production potential are plausible given the geology of eastern Ohio.  And, a report just issued by the state of Pennsylvania, where shale gas drilling is on-going, says the employment impact there has, in fact, been in the tens of thousands.

There are questions 

But, the process used to extract that oil and gas raises environmental concerns.  Hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” forces water laced with chemicals into rock formations under tremendous pressure to crack them and release oil and gas.  Teresa Mills of the Center for Health Environment and Justice says economic development numbers cited by Chesapeake sound impressive, but a risk-reward judgment should be made.  And she says right now, that’s not possible.  “This has not been studied long enough to actually know what is going to happen:  immediately, during fracking; within 6 months after fracking; 10 years down the road; or 50 years down the road.  Industry says, ‘you know, we’ve been doing this for 40 years.’  Not the same kind of fracking…this kind of fracking has only been around 10 years.”

 Moving ahead

But Gov. Kasich is celebrating Chesapeake’s newest estimates, saying he’s thrilled with the news. And Chesapeake’s McClendon fracking in northeast Ohio is ready to expand exponentially.   Nine wells have been drilled this year, and the number is expected mushroom to two thousand or more this decade.  

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