ORVI Insider #22: Our First Year in Review

 

ORVI Insider: Our First Year in Review

The Ohio River Valley Institute (ORVI) launched one year ago, in August 2020, as an independent, nonprofit think tank designed to equip the region’s residents and decision-makers with the policy research and practical tools they need to bolster ongoing campaigns and community organizing and advance long-term solutions to some of Appalachia’s most significant challenges.

As we reflect on our first year of operation, we want to express our gratitude to those who have made the work possible and to share with all of you the impact we have been able to make with your support. Over the last twelve months, the Ohio River Valley Institute has:

  • Published more than 80 substantive blog posts – a mix of economic analyses, jobs and GDP assessments for the region, synthesis of opinion research, legal and electoral analysis, and public testimony;
  • Released 8 in-depth research reports, including a bombshell report on the failure of the fracking industry to deliver on its promise of local economic prosperity;
  • Been featured in more than 770 news stories, reaching a total online and print audience of nearly 181 million, and generating more than $2.5 million in publicity value.

Our work has helped to reframe conversations around the fossil fuel industry in the region and called into question its ability to generate lasting local prosperity. By presenting comprehensive analyses of the cost to clean up legacy oil and gas and mine sites throughout the region, we have helped make the case for large-scale investments in reclamation efforts that can create jobs and improve the local environment. And, through partnerships with other researchers, community members, grassroots organizations, and coalitions, we have bolstered efforts to educate and engage regional policymakers. It has been an amazing and inspiring year, and we can’t wait to see what we will accomplish together in the year to come.    

In our first year of operation, the Ohio River Valley Institute has helped to reframe the way Appalachian residents and decision-makers think about natural gas and petrochemicals. 

In just one year, ORVI has become a leading regional voice on natural gas and petrochemical economics, chipping away at prevailing narratives of natural gas-fueled prosperity and petrochemical possibility. A series of reports, dozens of interviews, and myriad blog posts and multimedia projects have quantified the failure of the natural gas boom to produce widespread economic prosperity, demonstrating instead that the region’s largest natural gas counties’ share of the nation’s jobs, personal income, and population actually declined from 2008 to 2019.

Since February, more than 91 unique print and digital stories have cited ORVI’s data on the false promise of the fracking boom, fracturing perceptions of the industry as a regional economic engine. 

Ohio River Valley Institute research has shaped national conversations on abandoned mine lands and orphan wells…

In April 2021, ORVI and our partners at Reimagine Appalachia released “Repairing the Damage,” a set of reports expounding a list of federal recommendations to reclaim the oil and gas industry’s abandoned assets. Cleaning up the federal inventory of abandoned mine lands and orphan wells could curb climate emissions while creating thousands of well-paying, local jobs, the reports find.

“Repairing the Damage” has since informed policymaking at the highest level. Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) cited Research Fellow Eric Dixon’s research during a Senate committee on the federal infrastructure bill, and Senior Researcher Ted Boettner testified before the House Committee on Natural Resources with his findings on the job creation potential of orphan well remediation. Boettner’s work also headlined a national story on orphan well reclamation on CBS News, one of the most watched network news channels in the nation. 

…and forged partnerships with local and regional organizations and policymakers.

ORVI staff have held educational meetings with senators, congressional offices, state legislators, county commissions, city councillors and regional economic development groups to discuss the practical and actionable implications of our research on natural gas and alternative development. Our team also works closely with local and regional advocacy organizations and coalitions across the tri-state area. Our research corroborates and uplifts frontline stories while providing tools for advocacy outreach. The friends and partners with whom we have collaborated this year include Concerned Ohio River Residents, the Breathe Project, People Over Petro Coalition, Freshwater Accountability Project, Climate Reality Project, FracTracker Alliance, Center for Coalfield Justice, Pittsburgh United, and more. 

We’ve made waves on social media…

ORVI social media content has helped inform local and regional policymakers, organizations from grassroots to grasstops, and the general public. We’ve pushed out multimedia materials, explainer videos, infographics, and panel discussions. A few honorable mentions:

…and beyond.

Thanks for reading and being part of our community. Click here to support our work. For more information about the Ohio River Valley Institute’s first year of operation, check out www.ohiorivervalleyinstitute.org/year1.



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