By David Skolnick
U.S. Reps. Tim Ryan and Bill Johnson are calling on Energy Secretary Steven Chu to approve natural-gas export permits to countries that don't have free-trade agreements with the United States.
Ryan, of Niles, D-13th, and Johnson, of Marietta, R-6th, are among 109 members of Congress to sign the letter.
"By opening up this resource to world markets, we can help ensure its continued production that will support and create jobs here in eastern Ohio," Johnson said. "And we can accomplish this with common-sense policies that also protect the interests of America's manufacturers who depend on reliable, affordable access to natural gas. When more people are working, the economy expands and everyone benefits."
Natural gas has provided Northeast Ohio with a "great opportunity to provide jobs and continued economic development," Ryan said.
"Our workers can provide the trucking, construction and other support services needed to take advantage of the state's abundant gas supply," he said. "These are the kinds of investments needed to ensure that our energy future is stable, and our workers find good-paying jobs."
In the letter, the congressional members wrote that the growth of the natural-gas industry "is being held back by a lack of demand."
Other countries have "abundant shale-gas reserves," the letter reads. "However, we do have significant advantages that will take competitors many years to overcome" such as superior technology and an existing infrastructure.
"These advantages won't last forever," they wrote.
Johnson and Ryan are touring the new BP facility in North Jackson today.