Gas drilling in the Utica and Marcellus shale regions already has pumped tens of millions of dollars into Ohio's economy. Many more millions - plus continued extraction of a relatively clean energy resource - are to follow.
But the development brings more than thousands of new jobs and growth in tax revenues related to the economic development. There also are concerns about public safety and impact on the environment.
In addition to enacting new fees and taxes related to gas drilling, the state needs to update regulations for the gas and oil industries.
Last week, Gov. John Kasich said his administration and legislators have begun work on revised regulations.
But updated rules not only need to ensure Ohioans and their environment are protected, but also make sure the state remains competitive as a location for drilling. Regulators not only must address issues related to hydraulic fracturing, but also consider issues related to pipeline safety; a new pipeline in the works to carry some of that gas would traverse Ohio.
But, as mentioned, Ohio must remain a competitive place to drill. Thus, time also is of the essence.
Drafting an updated set of regulations should be a top priority for the Kasich administration this year. The earlier proposed rules can be presented to the state legislators, the earlier they can work on a revision that is acceptable to a majority. And the sooner the gas industry can provide energy and jobs, while our environment is protected.