While Bill McKibben’s anti-development rant may have brought plenty of out-of-state activists to Warren earlier this week, the benefits of oil and gas development brought about 100 actual residents out to show their support for oil and gas in the Mahoning Valley. Warren Mayor Doug Franklin, various community leaders, representatives from the Eastern Gateway Community College and the Youngstown-Warren Regional Chamber.
Notably, many members of the labor community attended, including Plumbers and Pipefitters Local 396, Operating Engineers Local 18, and Local 935 of the Laborers International Union of North America.
The workers rallied in support for all the jobs coming into the area. Many held signs saying “Jobs For Our Families,” something that shale development has done in the past and will continue to do in the future.
Don Crane, president of the Western Reserve Building & Construction Trades Council, which represents 6,000 construction workers, was on site to talk about how the oil and gas industry is changing the area’s economic future:
“Among the high-profile construction projects such as V&M, the well-site preparations, pipeline construction, commercial building and projects involving growing and relocating companies to our area, the shale industry has been a major source of income and pride for Mahoning Valley building trades members and all of organized labor.”—Don Crane (5:05)
Eric Planey, vice president of international business attraction for the Youngstown-Warren Regional Chamber, came out to explain how the oil and gas industry has already improved the Valley for the better:
“1500 jobs have been created directly in the supply chain…This is how the oil and gas industry is permeating and making its way in a positive manner into the Valley’s economy. I talk about 1500 supply chain jobs, that does not include the activity from the drilling, does not include the activity from the periphery activity”—Eric Planey (2:29)
Along with Trumbull County commissioner Frank Fuda, Mayor Franklin spoke about his unwavering support for the oil and gas industry taking hold of the Mahoning Valley:
“Our community needs to be optimistic and the exploration for natural gas is our catalyst. Now it’s not only about jobs in Warren and jobs in Trumbull County and jobs in Northeastern Ohio, it’s truly about growth in our economy. It’s about the first real economic recovery we’ve seen in decades.”—Doug Franklin, Mayor of Warren (0:15)
The following day, the Mahoning Valley Coalition for Job Growth and Investment, which helped organize Monday’s rally, hosted a press conference to express their concern about a proposed charter amendment banning hydraulic fracturing in Youngstown (a similar amendment was soundly defeated by Youngstown voters last November). The Coalition includes various businesses, labor groups, economic development agencies, and residents who see the legislation as a hindrance to economic development in the Valley.
Paul Lyden of the Lyden Oil Co. explained why the proposed legislation would negatively affect area families:
“Legislation like this would be a jobs killer. This is economic development for us. We have a billion-dollar steel mill in Vallourec, We have a lot of new businesses coming into town. We have existing businesses experiencing tremendous growth.”—Paul Lyden (Coalition Urges Voters to Snub Anti-Fracking Petition, 7/30/13)
The two events that went on this week in the Youngstown-Warren area show that residents don’t need to wear clown suits and stilts to garner attention; the real benefits accruing to the Valley’s residents speak loud enough on their own.