Oil and gas exec talks fracking benefits

A natural gas drilling rig in Wyoming.

In response to more than 200 protesters opposing an oil drilling method linked to recent earthquakes in Youngstown, an oil and gas executive hopes Ohioans will stay focused on the economic benefits and known facts of hydraulic fracturing.

"This is big-time oil and gas," said Tom Stewart, executive vice president of the Ohio Oil and Gas Association, during a Columbus Business First event. "There will be rubs with society. We're starting to see that."

Stewart told the Columbus Biz Insider blog that more than 200,000 jobs could come from drilling for oil and natural gas in the Utica and Marcellus shale plays. He said horizontal hydraulic fracturing is a "game changer" for the industry because it makes extracting oil and gas from shale formations more efficient.

He said while he does think the wastewater disposal well that officials shutdown in response to earthquakes caused "some seismic activity," he said the quakes weren't connected to the hydraulic fracturing methods used near the site.

"It's starting to get ugly," Stewart said. "Our industry is very concerned that we need to communicate with Ohioans, (public) policy people and the media."

Read more: Columbus Biz Insider

What do you think, do the benefits of fracking outweigh the risks? Would a ban on fracking in Ohio be too extreme? Weigh in below.