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January 21, 2014, by Dan Roberts

Extracting Ohio’s Natural Resources—Leaving an Indelible Mark – Part II

Part II

A continuation an conclusion of Dan Roberts' blog post from January 14th, 2014.

There are a myriad of pipelines cutting through eastern and southeastern Ohio. They extend out from a drilling site and connect to other pipelines that lead to the processing plants. I have seen four of these in my travels through Belmont, Harrison, and Noble Counties. The largest appeared to be in Summerfield. On top of one of the flattened out rolling hills, a gas processing plant has emerged which looks as much out of place as an elephant at an opera. Just outside the old and quaint village is a massive, state of the art facility where literally thousands of vehicles enter and exit daily. Some of these vehicles are the giant earth moving machines which have quickly deteriorated road conditions which are being constantly fixed at County Commissioners demanding.

The coal mining being done is mostly above ground. Although there are still deep mines, such as one in Freeport, there are strip mines in operation. One is near Barnesville, Ohio. The company drills down through the limestone and places chemicals used in fertilizers as explosives to blast away the rock to expose the coal veins. A constant roar of big machinery scoops up the coal and takes it to a holding pile where it is loaded onto dump trucks with a front loader. The coal is taken to the Ohio River and loaded onto barges. It is then transported down to the Mississippi River and loaded onto ships to take reportedly to China. This coal has too much phosphorous content to be used in America according to President Obama’s newly imposed restrictions. The site looks a bit ragged during the excavation period but having witnessed where the operation has been and how well the land was reclaimed gave me hope the same procedure will be followed. It is hard to tell where there were once deep pits upon the land when there now exists nicely grassed gently flowing landscape. Cows graze on what was once a very productive coal field.

Jobs have been created with the process of fracking and strip mining. A strong and able person, as well as a properly educated person can make a significant living working for one of the many companies deeply committed to finding and extracting Ohio’s below surface natural resources. The communities do not have the outward appearance they have benefitted from this influx of people and wealth. Perhaps that will come with careful planning and management of tax monies received.

Beautiful Ohio and Mother Earth have taken on some scars to their beauty in this quest to obtain much needed energy resources. There is an indelible mark upon them. Is it worth the risk? That depends on your perspective and how much you benefit or are negatively affected by it I guess. Americans as a whole have enjoyed not just a maintenance in their standard of living but a consistent increase in comforts and efficiencies they enjoy. Oil and coal production are positive factors in this improved standard of living we have come to expect. In any case, the Utica Shale and Marcellus Shale deposits are reported to have at least 30 years of maximum production value to them. During that time, I certainly hope our great minds collectively research into the use of renewable resources. There is only so much of a good thing under Ohio!