Tuesday, June 21, 2011

GUEST COLUMN: "Making Use of Ohio’s Energy Stores" by St. Rep. Danny Bubp

State Rep. Danny Bubp
One of my favorite features of Ohio is its diverse landscape. From Cleveland to Cincinnati, our state boasts urban centers as well as rural, agricultural communities. As a resident of Brown County, I harbor a special appreciation for the open spaces and fertile regions of rural Ohio. In the midst of the rich soil and rolling hills of these areas is an abundance of state-owned public lands. Every Ohioan can celebrate all that our state has to offer simply because of the vast array of terrain.

Within these public lands, there is a wealth of natural resources that could benefit our citizens immensely. Currently, however, the state is not taking full advantage of their potential. Our state government needs to look for new and inventive ways to manage our assets and protect our citizens from future tax hikes. Making use of Ohio’s resources can help to reverse the funding predicament that we find ourselves in today and provide alternatives to increasing the tax burden.

The recently passed House Bill 133 will ensure that the people of Ohio can benefit from the natural energy stores that dot the state landscape. To accomplish this task, the legislation creates the Oil and Gas Leasing Commission. This government entity will speak for the interests of the public by guaranteeing that public land managers have license to develop their lands.

The legislation will provide avenues to expand Ohio’s manufacturing base through cultivation of our natural resources. In addition, House Bill 133 stipulates the steps by which Ohio can make leases that allow for gas and oil production on land under the jurisdiction of state agencies. These important initiatives will expand investments in our local economies and widen the job pool of Ohio residents.

In economically trying times, the state government must find innovative solutions to alleviate the financial strain felt by Ohio’s families. Making use of what is right in front of us and what is right under our feet should be the right of all Ohioans. As gas prices rise, other expenses simultaneously increase. For instance, our citizens end up paying more for food because the cost of transporting these products is directly related to fuel costs. Families fighting to make ends are further marginalized by this situation.

I believe that House Bill 133 provides a viable answer to Ohio’s funding problems. We face an uphill battle to combat the soaring price of energy sources. The legislation allows Ohio to help itself. We need common-sense solutions that don’t involve tax raises or reliance on outside, limited funds. Through smart bills like this one, Ohio can help the middle class and enrich our state economy.