''I'm really here because he asked me to come and I like him,'' said Gov. John Kasich of his speaking Thursday at a shale summit at the invitation of state Rep. Sean O'Brien.
Slight chop-busting aside, Kasich, a Republican, was in Yankee Lake because he, like O'Brien, D-Brookfield, recognizes the importance of the energy industry in Ohio, that it needs to be done safely and has the potential to pay big dividends here in the Buckeye State.
He touched on Ohio's new gas and oil well drilling regulations, calling them the best in the U.S. and because of such, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency should keep its distance, sentiment he says he passed along to President Barack Obama at a NCAA tournament game in Dayton in March.
''I was saying to the president that we're going to have the best set of regulations in the country and we don't need the federal EPA coming in here and getting into our business,'' Kasich said. ''I didn't want to tell him 'you already wrecked the steel industry, we don't want you to wreck the energy industry.'
''What I said to him (Obama) was we're going to have very good regulations and we're going to create jobs and it's going to very, very good for people in a part of Ohio that haven't seen any economic boom forever,'' Kasich said.
Now that those regulations are in place, it's time to focus efforts on worker training and connecting workers to the industry, and diversifying Ohio's economic portfolio by developing spin-off industry from shale play development, Kasich said.
With the energy industry, he said to reporters before he spoke at the summit, ''I think mom is pretty happy because she might finally get her 34-year-old son out of the attic, he can get a job.''
After wrapping up, he gave a shout-out to state Sen. Capri Cafaro, a Democrat from Hubbard, who had already left to return to Columbus.
''Cafaro rocks, I have to say that or I'll never be allowed back in town again,'' Kasich said.
He took three questions from the crowd. One was about creating a demand for natural gas.
Kasich said utilities are examining gas fired plants, plus he's trying to create a compressed natural gas vehicle industry in Ohio and he'd like to convert the state's vehicle to compressed natural gas.
''The natural gravitation toward a cleaner, a cheaper fuel is going to help us, but you can't put all your eggs in natural gas because one minute it is cheap and the next minute it is expensive, so you want to have a portfolio of companies,'' Kasich said.
Toward the end, Kasich turned his speech to the controversial issue of privatizing the Ohio Turnpike.
''I was just on the turnpike and people tell me they are worried about the maintenance, well hell, that thing is falling apart,'' Kasich said.
Kasich said if Ohio could get a couple billion dollars and maintain underlying control of the toll road, ''we'd be crazy not to think about it.'' The money from a lease would be used for infrastructure.
Tolls and maintenance of the road could be written into the agreement, he said. ''I'm not worried about the maintenance so much because I been on this thing and I see the maintenance. It's not been very good, not good at all,'' Kasich said.