JFK students study shale industry

LORDSTOWN – Geography students at Warren John F. Kennedy High School are studying the business side of the shale industry, both in and out of the classroom.

Terry Armstrong, class instructor, this week had guest speakers both at the school and in the community. He said the unit will include several classroom speakers that will represent industry officials and those that have environmental concerns about the drilling process.

”We wanted to kick off the unit with an opportunity for the students to meet with some of those involved in the shale industry as well as to go and see a drilling site and community leaders that have worked with industry officials,” he said.

At the Lordstown Administration Building, village Director of Economic Development / Planning and Zoning Dave Harrison explained the process of working with companies involved in the shale industry. He talked about the impact of the shale industry on Lordstown as well as other economic activities taking place in the area.

He took the students on a driving tour to a shale drilling site in Lordstown, where he explained the history of the site, the process of royalty and leasing rights, and the public-private partnerships that have developed due to the investments of the shale industry.

”The trip also included an opportunity to attend the Ohio Shale Development Economic Impact Opportunities forum in Boardman,” Armstrong said, noting that congressmen Timothy J. Ryan and Bill Johnson both gave remarks.

”Many of the speakers at the forum reinforced the points made earlier in the day by Mr. Harrison about the vast employment and investment opportunities available due to the development of the Utica Shale in the Mahoning Valley,” Armstrong said.

Kathryn Safreed, a senior, said before she went on the trip, she believed she was more against drilling based on what she has read of seen on the news about hurting the environment.

”The speakers are very pro-environment,” Safreed said. ”I agree with what they are doing and believe this will help bring more people to the area and help businesses by providing jobs even it is not directly in the shale industry.”

Chandler Shoaf, a senior, said before she went on the trip or heard from the speakers, she did not know what to expect.

”I was not really pro or against the issue. I didn’t have an opinion either way, but had heard both good and bad things. I feel I am a very scientific-minded person, and after hearing the speakers and seeing the sites, I have a better grasp of the situation and feel I am more pro the issue. The information we have received helped cement that,” Shoaf said.

Shoaf and Safreed said the speakers were very clear and actually seeing a drill site helped get the information across.

”It’s amazing they get so much oil from one little tiny oil rig,” Safreed said.

Speakers included representatives of the Ohio Chamber of Commerce, the Ohio Shale Coalition, the American Petroleum Institute, the Ohio Energy Alliance, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, the Ohio Project and Ohio Energy Resource Alliance, Exterran Holdings and Tom Humphries of the Youngstown-Warren Regional Chamber, among others.

Armstrong said the speakers provided more information on shale than can be done in the classroom.

Rhonda Reda of the Ohio Oil and Gas Energy Education Program and Ohio Energy Resource Alliance discussed the wide variety of jobs that are and will continue to be available due to the investment in the shale industry.

The speaker series will also feature members of the Biological Science Department at Kent State University to discuss the environmental impact as well as representatives of groups concerned with the potential for negative environmental issues due to the fracking process.