Latta Talks Energy

ST. MARYS — An Ohio Congressman says the Obama administration is hindering domestic energy development with unnecessary regulations and restrictions.

“We have to have energy,” 5th District U.S. Rep. Bob Latta, a Republican, told The Evening Leader during a visit to its office Monday. “Ohio gets 85 percent of its energy from coal. They put more regulations on it ... If the EPA and President Obama keep putting higher standards on that, it’s going to get to the point to where these companies won’t be able to keep meeting them.”

Earlier in the day, Latta spoke to a crowd gathered at Midwest Electric’s annual legislative breakfast about energy. Latta also touted the natural gas finding in the Utica Shale.

“We have dry gas, wet gas and oil,” Latta said. “So it comes down to we have this great potential but it’s the regulations the administration is coming up with — including what do you do with coal ash.”

Coal ash is a byproduct of the combustion of coal. Latta said there has been a move by the EPA to examine the possibility of deeming coal ash a hazardous material — a move that would impact Ohio energy plants.

“Right now it’s used in plaster board, it’s used in concrete and used in all kinds of building materials,” Latta said. “If they all of a sudden would say you have to put it in a hazardous landfill, it’s going to get expensive to store it. The state of California has already said if it is declared a hazardous waste, they would ban it.”

As natural gas production begins in Ohio, Latta urged regulators to refrain from handcuffing producers.

“We have to have the right regulations in place,” Latta said. “I think the state of Ohio has done a great job with the rules and regulations they came up with. At the same time, we don’t want the EPA coming in and saying we are going to have one-size fits all. The problem them becomes how we drill here in the state of Ohio for natural gas could be complete different to how it’s done in Oklahoma or Colorado or Wyoming. We want to have the regulations being done right where it’s produced.”

Latta also called for the Keystone Pipeline project to be put on the fast track. The pipeline would carry Canadian oil into the United States — something Latta said would reduce the nation’s dependency on foreign oil.

“We need to get that approved because it would be 800,000-plus barrels of oil a day coming down from Canada to the United States,” Latta said. “We can refine it here. There’s 20,000 jobs on the construction side just to build the pipeline and 100,000 indirect jobs that we would have from that pipeline.”