DAYTON -- Gov. John Kasich mixed basketball with politics during Barack Obama's trip to Dayton for an NCAA tournament basketball game, telling the president that shale gas drilling in the state can be done safely.
Kasich talked with the president during the first half of the game Tuesday night about Ohio's plans to allow shale gas development. He said the president's main concern was whether the drilling would harm the environment.
"We don't have to sacrifice the environment to get the jobs. We can do both," Kasich said. "I wanted to let him know."
Kasich wants to open up eastern Ohio and other parts of the state to the oil and gas drilling industry despite objections from environmental groups that say the work will pollute the water and air.
Ohio's business sector released a study last month that said oil and gas drilling could create 65,000 jobs and an almost $4.9 billion investment in the state's economy by 2014.
Kasich said he told the president that legislation will be introduced this week to help ensure that the drilling doesn't contaminate groundwater and to give the state more oversight over the process.
The Republican governor wouldn't talk about whether he thinks Obama, a Democrat, will win Ohio in the November presidential election.
"It's not a night to talk about all the election stuff," Kasich said. "It's nice to be here, it's nice to be included. Every time I do sporting events, it seems I'm with the president. One minute we're playing golf, the next minute we're at a basketball game."
The pair played golf in June with House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio and Vice President Joe Biden in a highly publicized match arranged to improve the relationship between the president and the speaker.
The Associated Press