Johnson Brings Colleagues Here for Oil and Gas Roundtable

HANOVERTON, Ohio – U.S. Rep. Bill Johnson, R-6, spent Friday introducing two of his colleagues to how Ohio has developed a thriving energy sector since oil and gas companies drilled into the Utica-Point Pleasant shale formation more than a decade ago.

However, the industry faces headwinds that the congressman says could be alleviated with a more reasonable and consistent energy policy.

Johnson brought fellow Republicans Dan Newhouse, representing the state of Washington’s 4th district, and Mariannette Miller-Meeks, who represents Iowa’s 2nd district, to Columbiana County so they could better understand some of the hurdles the industry faces today.

Johnson, Newhouse and Miller-Meeks are among 75 members of the Western Caucus in the U.S. House of Representatives. Newhouse is its chairman.

“We share a lot of values and a lot of the same kind of problems and issues with some of our western states – whether it’s mining, energy development, you name it,” Johnson said after hosting a roundtable discussion at the Spread Eagle Tavern.

Johnson had earlier hosted a roundtable with mining and coal interests in Cadiz Harrison County.

The congressman said that the objective is to have other members of the caucus get a chance to listen to stakeholders in the industry so they can craft better energy policy.

Johnson said that these producers feel overburdened by regulations embraced by the Biden administration “and those on the left that want to do away with fossil fuels.”

Much of the roundtable discussion in Columbiana County centered on the difficulties of managing the energy industry in what they say is a more stringent regulatory environment under the Biden administration.

“They want regulatory certainty,” Johnson said. “They want to be able to know that when they make an investment into leases that they’re going to be able to invest the money, explore and develop those leases.”

Instead, Johnson noted that the Biden administration has discouraged investment in the oil and gas industry. “It makes it difficult to get capital,” he said, along with navigating the red tape involved in the permitting process. “Those are the kind of things this administration should be addressing to put American energy independence back in play.”

Representatives of Encino Energy, the Ohio Oil and Gas Association, elected officials from Columbiana County, and energy policy advocates attended the luncheon.

After the roundtable, the delegation embarked on a tour of an Encino Energy oil and gas rig in nearby Salineville.

Newhouse said this was his first visit to northeastern Ohio. “We focus on a lot of issues, particularly as it relates to rural America,” he said. “Resource development, natural resources, air, land, water and agriculture.”

He said energy is especially a priority for Americans today, as fuel prices continue to soar.

Newhouse added it was important to see firsthand the type of resources that are found in this part of the country. “That’s going to be part of the solution to keep energy affordable and accessible, if we have the right regulations in place.”

The Ohio stop is among several that members of the caucus have taken across the country to listen to communities and their concerns, Newhouse said.

“That’ll help us make better decisions as to the energy crisis that we have,” he said. “I hope in turn, it will reduce the prices Americans are paying because we’ll have better policies in place.”

Pictured: Roundtable discussion Friday at the Spread Eagle Inn.

Copyright 2022 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.