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Ohio Governor Corners Obama at NCAA Basketball Game to Talk Shale

Gregory Shamus / Getty Images

President Obama sits with British Prime Minister David Cameron (R) at to watch the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers take on the Mississippi Valley State Delta Devils. Sitting nearby, Ohio Governor John Kasich seized the opportunity to lobby Obama on shale.

One thing you hear like a mantra from industry folks these days is the apparent contradiction of how President Obama talks up shale development, but his Environmental Protection Agency wants to propose new rules and over-regulate the industry. Some would say the EPA is merely playing catch-up to a rapidly expanding shale boom that is exempt from several federal environmental statutes. But industry says the states should reign when it comes to setting new guidelines for gas drilling.
The gas drilling boom has yet to take Ohio by storm. But its Republican Governor John Kasich wanted to make sure Obama knew how well the state is doing to prevent environmental destruction, while allowing job growth. At a first round NCAA playoff game in Dayton, Ohio, Kasich sat behind the President, and British Prime Minister David Cameron. Governor Kasich apparently got pretty chatty with Obama over shale drilling. The Columbus Government Examiner reported on the conversation.

In a pool report sent out by the White House via Washington Times reporter David Boyer, it was learned that Kasich, a former Congressman from Westerville, lobbied the President on shale gas drilling for a portion of the first half of the game. Kasich later relayed the conversation to Boyer. “I was telling [Obama] about what we’re doing on shale,” said Governor Kasich.

Kasich told the President that Ohio is moving quickly to enact a number of new measures that would protect the aquifers from drilling contamination.

“I was telling him that what we’re doing in Ohio is, we’re setting standards so that we can have a safe environment and at the same time have economic development. In his State of the Union, he talked about the fact that this is great potential for the country. I told him and I told [White House Chief of Staff] Jack Lew, we’ll be introducing legislation this week that will deal with the ability to have the proper development of the wellheads so that we don’t leak into groundwater, high-pressure pipelines, the ability to regulate gathering lines.”

Some Ohio residents also worry about earthquakes. A deep injection well near Youngstown woke up some unknown faults and caused several quakes around the Christmas and New Years holiday. The state has since proposed new rules for injecting frack wastewater at high pressure into these wells.
Since it was Prime Minister Cameron’s first NCAA playoff game, we assume Obama spent the rest of his time explaining the finer points of college basketball and eating hotdogs. It turns out Cameron picked the right game for his March Madness debut. The Hilltoppers beat the Devils 59-58 in a jaw-dropping rally, closing a 16-point gap in the last five minutes of the game.

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