What They’re Saying: America’s “Comeback” Powered by Natural Gas

Pittsburgh, Pa. – The broad-based benefits of clean-burning natural gas are being realized every day by more families and businesses and in more ways. And with the nation’s employment outlook still facing significant challenges, the safe development of American natural gas supports nearly 240,000 jobs in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania while also delivering huge savings to consumers. Here’s what they’re saying:

AMERICA’S COMEBACK POWERED BY SAFE, CLEAN NATURAL GAS

  • Natural gas generating a national ‘Comeback’ as well as jobs, prosperity: Charles Morris says rapid expansion of shale gas drilling and “fracking” will enable America to out-produce most of the globe. …  Gas drilling requires a large array of supplies, from steel pipe to special trucks to fracturing chemicals, he said. “American oil and gas industry investments will total $348 billion in 2013.” The industry offers “classic blue-collar jobs to people without college degrees [who] can pull down $100,000 annual incomes before they’re 30.” “By 2020, America’s energy revolution will support as many as 3.6 million jobs, both in the energy sector itself and including the new manufacturing development it will support,” Morris said. He added that each new manufacturing job creates about 1.5 spinoff jobs in the surrounding economy. (Charleston Gazette editorial, 6/30/13)
  • “Natural gas and renewables are allies, not adversaries, says report”: Contrary to widespread suggestions that abundant supplies and low prices for natural gas are pushing out wind and solar, the resources are in fact long-term allies that are likely to force other generation to the sidelines in the future. That’s the conclusion of a new report from the Brattle Group released last month. Though the analysis focused on the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) region, the authors suggest the insights are applicable in other states and countries. (Power Magazine, 7/2/13)
  • “Energy self-sufficiency is now in sight” thanks to natural gas: “Energy self-sufficiency is now in sight,” Phil Verleger, a prominent energy consultant and visiting Fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics said. … In scale this energy revolution, which unfolded over the past few years compares to huge productivity unleashed by the computer and Internet revolution of the last decade, creating jobs, industries and tons of innovations. It “is a game changer,” said Craig Alexander, chief economist from TD Bank Financial Group. “There’s no question we are seeing a renaissance in manufacturing because the cost advantage has shifted to the United States.” IHS Global Insight says that in the chemical-manufacturing sector alone, companies are building plants worth an estimated $95 billion. … The natural gas revolution, however, stands in a class by itself. “This,” Mr. Verleger said “is really the classic success of American entrepreneurs”. Indeed the United States is preparing to export natural gas now having achieved self-sufficiency. (New York Sun, 7/7/13)
  • U.S. Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick: “We are well on our way” to energy independence: In a tectonic shift, energy independence is not unrealistic for the U.S. in as short a period as 10-20 years,” the National Intelligence Council recently stated. By matching American ingenuity and enthusiasm to resources, North America could be energy-independent within the next decade. We are well on our way. Energy production in the United States is booming. Much of this growth stems from new and innovative ways to extract oil and gas from once hard-to-reach deposits in North America, including the Marcellus Shale areas of Pennsylvania. By harnessing our resources through environmentally safe yet efficient means, it is likely that the United States will become the top oil manufacturer in the world, overtaking Saudi Arabia – a profound shift in the energy universe. (Philadelphia Inquirer op-ed, 7/5/13)
  • Marcellus Shale impact fees benefit local communities: The Land Partnership Grants Program was established in 2006 to distribute $1 million earmarked for parks and trails programs. Since the initial funding ran out, the program was dormant for several years. But now that state money from Marcellus shale drilling impact fees is being distributed to counties, the county has revived the program to distribute those funds — totaling $348,900 — to eligible programs. … The Cumberland Valley Rails-to-Trails Council is getting the biggest piece of the pie with $75,000 for the first phase of a Newville to Carlisle trail extension. (Patriot-News, 7/3/13)
  • MarkWest Energy adds jobs, revenue to the region: The team at MarkWest Energy Partners’ Canonsburg offices are settling into new digs that will see about 70 employees that were scattered across two offices now under one roof. The move was necessitated by the firm’s growth, said Rob McHale, manager of government and environmental affairs. … In other MarkWest growth news, the company has completed a $1.8 million real estate transaction for property in Jackson Township as part of its expansion for its Bluestone Processing Facility. … Bluestone I opened last year, and this Bluestone II project is expected to be online in the second quarter of 2014 with 120 million cubic feet per day of added capacity. In addition to the construction jobs created by this project, McHale said the company will be looking to add 10 full-time equivalents, likely operators and mechanics. (Pittsburgh Business Times, 7/1/13)
  • Safe natural gas development “good for the environment and good for the economy”: President Barack Obama was right when he conceded recently that the boom in U.S. natural gas production is both good for the environment and good for the economy. … Fracking, or hydraulic fracturing, has helped stimulate the U.S. energy sector and, thus, the U.S. economy. Obama noted that the natural gas boom is creating jobs, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and lowering utility bills. … It’s fortunate that President Obama understands fracking and the natural gas boom have clear economic benefits to the nation. (Dayton Beach News-Journal editorial, 7/9/13)
  • Hydraulic fracturing “an obvious boon” for America: There’s nothing uniquely dangerous about the act of fracking, which involves blasting mostly water and sand into a shale formation to create tiny fractures that release gas. This often happens 5,000 to 8,000 feet underground and far beneath any aquifers. Fracking is such an obvious boon that it is embraced almost everywhere it is feasible. … Fracking is so self-evidently the future that, at times, even the EPA seems loath to try to stand in the way. (New York Post op-ed, 7/9/13)
  • Shale dramatically bolstering U.S. energy security: In 2005, an exploratory fracking well changed the dynamics of energy production almost overnight. Workers sunk the well into the giant Marcellus shale beds in Pennsylvania, the state where America’s petroleum drilling industry began in 1859 when Edwin L. Drake and George Bissell struck oil near Titusville. The Marcellus well spawned a natural gas boom throughout Pennsylvania that spread to shale deposits across the country. … The fracking boom in both natural gas and oil is expected to make the nation energy independent within a few years. (Charleston Post Courier, 7/7/13)

POWERING OUR TRANSPORTATION NEEDS

  • “Natural gas a good choice for vehicles”: Compressed natural gas already serves as the power source for many fleet vehicles across the country, and the technology exists to create a filling station virtually anywhere. Compressed natural gas currently costs about $2 for the equivalent of a gallon of fuel. That price has held steady for the past few years. The local region’s abundance of natural gas also makes such a project a wise investment. And when you couple in reduced emissions and helping to reduce the nation’s dependence on foreign oil, it makes sense to look at natural gas as an option. (Wheeling Intelligencer editorial, 7/8/13)
  • “Natural gas is part of the solution”: By pursuing the installation of a compressed natural gas (CNG) station, Bridgeton, NJ, stands to gain a $2 million ratable and many other benefits. “When you’re looking at economic development growth in the area, this is one of the coming things,” consultant James Rutala from James M. Rutala Associates said. “Natural gas is part of the solution to the energy issue.”Many companies, such as UPS, Frito Lay and Waste Management, are switching to CNG vehicles in order to save more than a dollar per gallon, as compared to diesel fuel, with the reduction of American dependency on foreign oil as another benefit. (South Jersey Times, 7/4/13)
  • “Economically, [natural gas] just makes a lot of sense”: The recently opened Advanced Vehicle Technology Services Inc. (VTech) in a Chicago suburb is banking on the growing popularity of natural gas as an automotive fuel source. … They specialize in building natural gas systems into existing vehicles, particularly commercial trucks. … “We feel that it’s an emerging market that’s going to expand rapidly,” VTech co-owner David Hagopian said. “Economically, it just makes a lot of sense,” Hagopian said. (Lake County News-Sun, 7/3/13)
  • “Kanawha County expands natural gas fleet”: Kanawha County Commissioner Dave Hardy, above, was among the county officials unveiling two new additions to the alternative fuel fleet Wednesday at the courthouse in downtown Charleston. The county recently added a 2013 compressed natural gas, bi-fueled Chevy Tahoe and a 2013 propane bi-fueled Ford F-150 to the fleet. … The county’s alternative fuel efforts are part of the “Kanawha Converts” initiative, which was created in January 2012 to develop infrastructure designed to take advantage of natural gas in the Marcellus and Utica shale formations for an alternative, more cost-efficient, and cleaner transportation fuel. (Charleston Daily Mail, 7/3/13)
  • “Chicago wholesaler converts to compressed natural gas trucks”: Chicago wholesaler Testa Produce Inc. is delivering more of its produce in trucks powered by compressed natural gas. The foodservice distributor added two electric trucks to its delivery fleet this year and is adding 10 trucks that run on the cleaner-burning, lower-cost domestic fuel. … The 24-foot refrigerated trucks are quieter, produce fewer emissions and … run on fuel costing around $2.60 per gallon compared to the $4.30-$4.89 per gallon cost of biodiesel, Stephanie Testa, distribution manager, said in the release. (The Packer, 7/3/13)

PA LANDOWNERS DESERVE NATURAL GAS RIGHTS

  • Pa. landowners urge DRBC to demonstrate common sense: The Northern Wayne Property Owners Alliance argues the Delaware River Basin Commission’s inaction on its own proposals have threatened the property owners’ ability to develop their mineral rights, which could result in termination of their lease agreements. In a letter to the DRBC’s executive director Carol Collier last week, the NWPOA executive director Bob Rutledge says the leaseholders spent time and money negotiating a good lease agreement that incorporates environmental provisions. … Rutledge also writes that the DRBC is being “held hostage by an emotion-driven anti-drilling community made up mostly of people outside our region and by activist staffers within the DRBC who are exercising their personal biases.” (StateImpact, 7/10/13)
  • “Gov. Corbett calls on Delaware River Basin Commission to lift 3-year moratorium on gas drilling”: Gov. Tom Corbett urged the Delaware River Basin Commission to lift a three-year moratorium on gas drilling, saying it has depressed economic growth in northeastern Pennsylvania and deprived landowners of their property rights. … The Marcellus Shale Coalition likewise called on the DRBC to drop the ban. “Landowners in northeast Pennsylvania have the right to develop their own property, and the DRBC should move forward with issuing long-overdue regulations,” said Kathryn Klaber, the coalition’s chief executive officer. (Associated Press, 6/28/13)
  • U.S. Pat Sen. Toomey: “open door to natural gas production in northeastern Pennsylvania”: I urge you to move forward and finalize natural gas development standards, lift the moratorium, and allow my constituents to increase economic development in this region. For far too long, families across the nation have struggled to pay their bills and earn a living. In many parts of our country, including Northeastern Pennsylvania, unemployment remains unacceptably high. In fact, it is still above 10 percent in certain counties in my state. As we have seen elsewhere in Pennsylvania, natural gas development has the potential to deliver true economic stimulus by providing land-owners with much needed capital, creating jobs and offering an inexpensive source of energy to power households and businesses. (Release, 7/3/13)

CREATING HUGE CONSUMER SAVINGS

  • “UGI Penn Natural Gas customers’ bills one-third lower than they were five years ago”: Since the Marcellus Shale drilling boom started in 2008, the resulting bounty of natural gas has translated into savings for Pennsylvania customers. … UGI spokesman Joseph Swope noted, “The price is still significantly lower than it was pre-Marcellus Shale in 2008.” … According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, natural gas production in Pennsylvania averaged 6.1 billion cubic feet per day in 2012, up from 3.6 billion cubic feet per day in 2011. It’s estimated that 1 billion cubic feet is enough to serve approximately 10,000 to 11,000 homes for one year. (Citizens Voice, 7/8/13)
  • “If you care about the environment, you should welcome natural gas fracking”: Shale gas is reshaping America’s economy, environment and politics in still surprising ways. It was an unpredicted phenomenon, but shale gas, now more than a decade old, accounts for 40% of the natural gas in the US. … The massive supply of shale gas [is] … delivering heating and electricity savings of $1,000 per year to many US consumers and helping to fend off further recession. These large price reductions in heat and power – necessities of life – are especially vital for those living in poverty, and a welcome turn of luck for median-income households. As a result of shale gas, fortune has smiled as well on millions of Americans who have lease their land to the drilling industry. They receive payments and royalty checks that total tens of billions of dollars. Hundreds of thousands more get a paycheck from jobs created directly or indirectly by the shale gas boom and chemical manufacturing associated with it. (The Guardian op-ed, 7/8/13)
  • Western Pa. town “sees savings in natural gas”: Windber Borough Council hopes to have a better idea at their meeting next week whether converting the town’s municipal building to natural gas could save taxpayers money over time. … “The school district went to natural gas and realized some great savings,” Windber Councilman Jim Spinos said. “Borough council is looking to save taxpayer dollars anywhere we can.” … Borough Manager Fred Oliveros said, “It looks as if we’ll save about $1,600 in heating costs per year with natural gas. That’s a pretty good amount. It adds up, and every penny counts.” (Daily American, 7/4/13)

MARCELLUS SHALE: CLEARED FOR TAKE-OFF

  • “Glowing reports come from Pittsburgh airport natural gas fields”: The land under Pittsburgh International Airport, already expected to hold hundreds of millions of dollars in natural gas, might be even richer. … Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald says preliminary tests by Consol Energy geologists show there’s likely more gas than originally expected. … Allegheny County council approved the Consol drilling deal in February, accepting a $50 million one-time bonus and the potential for $450 million more in royalty payments over the next two decades. … Fitzgerald hopes to lower landing fees and jump-start development at airport industrial parks. (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 7/3/13)
  • “Pittsburgh airport gas drilling could yield higher royalties”: Land at Pittsburgh International Airport is likely to produce more gas than predicted. … “There may be some incremental increase in gas coming out of here,” said Richard E. Goings, Consol Energy VP of geology and engineering. Better technology has allowed the company to drill longer horizontal wells, reaching nearly 10,300 feet in Westmoreland County this year, he said. “We just keep pushing the envelope a bit longer,” Goings said. (Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, 7/3/13)
  • Safe natural gas development to bolster Pittsburgh airport: When drilling begins, Pittsburgh International will join a growing list of airports leasing land for shale gas drilling. … Oil and gas money will provide two benefits to air cargo: operating costs for carriers will be reduced, and the funds will allow the airport to improve its infrastructure and build new facilities. … Allegheny County Airport Authority president Brad Penrod says the Pittsburgh airport has potential for increased cargo traffic in the coming years. (Air Cargo World, 7/8/13)

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