Pennsylvania cannot throw away the economic opportunity that gas production in the Marcellus Shale could provide the state. And it cannot turn its back on the rest of the nation by denying it a source of clean natural gas that will reduce our nation’s dependence on foreign energy supplies.
According to Penn State’s Workforce Education and Development Initiative, production of natural gas in the Marcellus Shale will bring increased revenue and new jobs. Gross state product would increase by more than $500 million a year. For every $1 billion in royalty income paid to Pennsylvania residents, nearly 8,000 jobs will be created annually. The economic benefits will have a rippling effect across the state, providing money for new businesses, schools and roads.
Business and government leaders in central Pennsylvania think it could be the biggest economic development they have ever seen.
The personal income gas production will generate is expected to translate into more purchases of goods, increasing the output of Pennsylvania industries and improving the income of state workers, which in turn attracts more workers to the state.
And many of the counties in Pennsylvania who will directly benefit from drilling are the same counties that desperately need the help. Unemployment figures in some Pennsylvania counties are as high as 13.9 percent.
Production of gas in the Marcellus Shale is a winning opportunity across the board. Tapping this great underground treasure is good for America and good for the environment. Natural gas is one of the cleanest fuel choices for electricity and transportation. It creates no harmful greenhouse gases, reduces air pollution and improves air quality.
Shale drilling is a safe, effective and environmentally sound way to collect the energy that is literally under our feet. It uses advanced technology to release gas trapped in the shale beds found deep underground – gas previously not economical to tap.
To remove the natural gas, a drill is sent straight down a mile underground and then turned to drill horizontally into the shale. Water and sand is pumped into the well, causing small fractures to release the gas and allowing it to be collected through a system of pipes that take the gas to needed markets.
I do not believe those who urge Pennsylvania not to drill because it will damage the environment. I believe those groups are fundamentally opposed to any drilling anywhere, no matter how safe.
I am confident that state regulators have put in place the protections necessary to ensure that water resources are protected. I also believe that the energy industry’s investment of time – crisscrossing the state to meet with local community groups and state officials – is a sincere effort to address concerns that the state’s natural resources are cared for.
Pennsylvania cannot afford to delay gas production any longer. As winter approaches and energy prices remain high, Americans need relief and Pennsylvania needs the jobs and extra income. The Marcellus Shale runs across several states. We should not allow our state to be left behind.
Guest Columnist Louis D’Amico is Executive Director of the Independent Oil & Gas Association of Pennsylvania.
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