U.S. Rep. Bill Johnson is on the right track in attempting to compare America's effort to achieve energy independence to President John F. Kennedy's call to land on the moon in the 1960s.
Johnson, R-Marietta, pointed out how a movement is under way in Congress for an ''all-of-the-above'' approach to the nation's energy policy. This would include wind, solar, natural gas, coal and other sources.
In the Mahoning Valley, oil and natural gas reserves in the Utica Shale offer the U.S. its first real opportunity to achieve energy independence. Many scholarly reports, from Rice University to Penn State and more, point out how tapping into shale reserves could change the socio-political makeup of the world in favor of the U.S.
Just lowering the cost of natural gas has had an incredible ripple affect. Manufacturers have been more compelled to build factories in the U.S. to lower their energy bills, thus creating jobs. The jobs plus lower household energy costs translate into more disposable income that circulates throughout the economy.
Converting the nation's ground transportation fleet to natural gas lessens our dependence on the Middle East and elsewhere for oil, thus weakening rogue governments and taking strain off the U.S. military.
Though slowly, the shale rush is starting to take shape in Trumbull and Mahoning counties. Most recently, Halcon announced a $70 million transloading facility at the Ohio Commerce Park in Lordstown. Many other companies have invested billions of dollars in the two counties and a flurry of activities - from building pipelines to securing leases and rights-of-way - continue daily.
Johnson and others have long advocated for an ''all-of-the-above'' approach. Including alternative energy and fossil fuels stretches the longevity of each resource.
The race to energy independence could very easily be as great as the race to put a human being on the moon. It's a game-changer for the U.S. The Mahoning Valley is on the verge of becoming the epicenter of that change. A nonpartisan, rallying cry from Washington, akin to rallying behind the race to the moon, really makes some sense.