John’s Actions in the 130th General Assembly:
Conneaut Harbor and Ashtabula River Dredging Projects
John’s office assisted in many phases of the dredging process. We negotiated with the Army Corps of Engineers, served as a liaison between Ashtabula City, the Ashtabula Port Authority and the Ohio EPA and we coordinated the local funding match required by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources. Both the Conneaut project and the Ashtabula River project are now complete.
House Committee on Agriculture and Natural Resources
At John’s invitation, this committee journeyed to our District in late October, 2013, to visit the SPIRE Institute, our grape growers, a fish farm and a miscanthus farm. As a result, other House members are now more aware of the opportunities in agriculture and tourism found in the 99th District. The OSU Extension Office and the Ashtabula County Visitors and Convention Bureau helped to coordinate this informational event.
Our 99th district is blessed with natural resources: water, oil and gas reserves and agricultural land. We must carefully balance conservation and preservation of resources with thoughtful and futuristic development of those resources.
We possess two lake ports in our district which are under-utilized. There is a great deal of potential to enhance and develop the Ashtabula and Conneaut harbors. And while water itself is available in ample quantities, it must be consumed responsibly. I believe in the inherent potential of our great resource — Lake Erie — and its central importance to the creation of jobs. I foresee our two ports bustling with commerce once more. I foresee the responsible use of water from Lake Erie to be used for industrial development.
Along the lake there is opportunity to develop and harness the power of wind. Windmills and the technology necessary to build and maintain them offer opportunities for employment. Due to our special position along the lake, I foresee an industry devoted entirely to renewable energy by harnessing the potential of wind.
Far underneath the soil of the 99th lies more economic potential. The layer of Marcellus shale, larger than the gas and oil reserves of Saudi Arabia some say, will provide additional economic opportunities. But extracting oil from it must first be managed and monitored in order to protect the environment.
We must face reality on this point: America, not just Ohio, needs oil. For far too long we have been overly dependent upon foreign oil. The importation of oil results in a cash flow from the United State to foreign nations. Domestically produced oil keeps American dollars in America. And it also helps to create jobs.
Yes, oil speculation is here, it cannot be denied. However, I absolutely insist that the fracking process be safe, be environmentally non-obtrusive, and be subject to local monitoring under tighter standards. The well sites must be monitored. And we must monitor the process to recycle potentially hazardous water — wastewater not only from Ohio wells but also millions of gallons imported from Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Clearly, this process must be subject to strict environmental standards.
Additionally, loosely regulated drilling in our state parks could result in a loss of tourism dollars and the permanent loss of rural aquifers in the 99th. Like other states, Ohio must proceed with utmost care in opening our state parks to fracking. This I believe is especially important in areas that are already prone to seismic activity. Geneva State Park, which is located a mere 10 miles from the Perry Nuclear Power Plant, lies close to such a fault line.
We need to balance environmental responsibility with economic development. Otherwise we will repeat past mistakes which have cost us dearly — such as the Ashtabula River clean-up or Geneva’s former True Temper site.
The natural resources contained within the 99th have also positioned us to take advantage of tourism. Our wineries, the state parks in both Ashtabula and Geauga counties, and our Amish communities combine to form a magnet for new dollars through increased tourism. We must promote and stimulate these assets at the state level more effectively than what has been done in the past.
Finally, Ohio farmers remain the largest source of economic vitality in the state. But there is still room for growth and additional employment. Bio-fuels present a unique opportunity to our farmers and land owners. Corn and soybeans are critical to the agricultural pyramid. Those crops, and with them our farmers, provide the cornerstone to our economic health and productivity. We must continue to support and nurture our agricultural sector for the good of all society.
Join me in creating a new vision for the new 99th.