In the late 19th Century, Ohio—especially northeastern Ohio—was rich in crude oil. A Clevelander named John D. Rockefeller put the resource to use, first using it to make kerosene and later gasoline. Through competition, he even devised a pipeline system to avoid rising railroad shipping prices.
Through Rockefeller’s ingenuity, northeastern Ohio became a wealthy region. Oil fostered the growth of ancillary industries such as rubber.
Eventually, of course, oil became the lifeblood of the American economic system, fueling transportation and serving as a key ingredient in numerous products. Over time, demand for oil increased, particularly after two nations with billion-plus populations started driving en masse, causing prices of gasoline and other related products to rise. Cartels, nationalized oil industries, and restrictions on exploration and refining as a result of environmental concerns also forced prices upward.
Oil now seemed a problem, to the point that governments subsidized efforts to find alternatives.
But rising prices now make other sources of oil economically viable. Such areas are often rich in natural gas, also. And Ohio is rich in both.
Oil fields are prominent in the northwestern plains and throughout much of the eastern half of the state. Natural gas is prevalent in the east with scattered deposits elsewhere. (For Daytonians, the nearest deposits are in Darke County, a natural gas field, but southwest Ohio is otherwise devoid of known deposits.)
Concerns that hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) may contaminate water supplies or even aggravate fault lines has halted exploration at several locations. Regardless, experts expect oil and gas to lead to an Ohio economic boom in the coming years, perhaps worth billions of dollars and several hundred thousand jobs.
Despite the idea to tax the industry for revenue, Ohio Governor John Kasich has signed legislation supportive of the oil and gas exploration. Environmental groups have cried foul, but the tide seems to be in favor a second Ohio oil (and gas) boom.