The Marcellus shale industry is changing the Mid-Ohio Valley in ways, large and small.
Hotels are going up. Houses are being bought. A proposed cracker plant and other plants may be locating here in the next couple of years.
Even a local dry cleaning business is seeing an up-tick in business from workers needing coveralls cleaned.
I’ve never lived anywhere in the midst of a natural resource boom.
While I know there are concerns about water quality, I also know that with every source of energy, there’s a cost.
Whether it’s air pollution from burning coal, or long-term radioactivity from nuclear, there’s a downside to every form of energy.
My biggest concern right now is that governments and communities get ready for what happens after the big drilling boom is over.
Political and community leaders must do everything they can … NOW… to make sure that some of the profits made from the shale business, get funneled into schools, roads, water systems and other long term investments, that will improve the lives of local folks long after the drilling crews have gone.
I’m reminded of what happened when Amp-Ohio wanted to build a hydro-electric facility at the Belleville locks and dam in the 1990s.
The company wanted to pay little or no taxes for using the river, which is our natural resource, from which it intended to make money.
Wood County Commissioners, and most specifically Commissioner Jean Grapes said: no way!
The company was forced to pay about one million dollars a year, most of which went to the Wood County Schools, to operate that facility.
That’s the kind of long-term thinking that local and regional leaders need to take with the shale oil industry.
Don’t gouge the industry. We want the jobs and the tax revenue.
But don’t let the industry leave our area worse off when it leaves.
That’s this week’s editorial.