About The Midwest Center for Energy Law and Policy

  • North America is experiencing an energy revolution, sparked by recent technological advancements that have created a boom in commercially viable supplies of hydrocarbon from shale and other unconventional sources. This revolution is expanding the locus of hydrocarbon-based industries beyond the Gulf Coast region to include Appalachia due to its enormous deposits of natural gas in Ohio, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia. ExxonMobil predicts that natural gas will supplant coal as the world’s second biggest energy source – after crude oil – by 2025 and that America will emerge by that time as an energy exporter. Further, it is predicted that demand for gas will grow by approximately 65% by 2040. Experts have predicted that the economic benefit of this energy revolution will add $5 billion annually to the Ohio economy alone.

    The abundance of shale gas nationally will provide greater energy independence, as well as opportunities for the new energy states, such as Ohio. These benefits are also tied to potential environmental and social risks. For instance, opponents of hydraulic fracturing technology (fracking) point to how poor fracking practices can lead to water pollution, methane leakage, and seismic activities. The oil and gas industry asserts that concreted well shafts do not leak, regurgitant water can be collected and made safe, and the risk of tremors can be effectively managed by careful monitoring. The International Energy Agency reinforces these claims, but adds that the cost of fracking in this manner will likely add 7% cost to the average shale gas well.

    Ohio is, and will be for the foreseeable future, an energy state with both large gas reserves and a large and sophisticated electricity infrastructure, which exports energy to other states and Canada. Many of the legal issues that Ohioans will address legislatively, through administrative agencies, and in its courts will be related to both the positive and negative impacts of the Energy Sector. At this point, Ohio’s legal infrastructure for dealing with such issues is still developing. Ohio has always been a bellwether of American politics, and will emerge as an influential player in the development of energy law and policy. This will create the need for an unbiased forum to discuss these important issues. It will also create vast opportunities for those with quality legal training in this area.

    In response to the need for quality legal training, Capital University Law School has recently created The Midwest Center for Energy Law and Policy and the Energy Law and Policy Concentration. Together, the Center and the energy law concentration will provide Capital’s students with this sort of training. Because of this, the new center and concentration, Capital is better equipped than its local and regional competitors to help secure a career in one of the few bright spots for employment opportunities for lawyers in a shrinking legal market.

    The Center’s aim is to promote the study of Ohio’s energy laws and regulation. It functions as a neutral forum for discussion about how to balance the demand for energy resources and its associated economic benefits with the demand to reduce the environmental impacts of such activities. Such a forum can help the public engage in an inclusive and informed examination of the issues associated with Ohio’s emergence as an energy state and what regulatory response ought to result.