The U.S. Energy Information Administration’s (EIA) Crude Oil and Natural Gas Proved Reserves report released today found “U.S. total natural gas proved reserves increased 10% in 2013 and reached a new U.S. record of 354 Tcf.” Within that “record growth”, EIA states that Pennsylvania had the largest increase, and when coupled with West Virginia, the two states which lay atop of the Marcellus Shale “account for 70% of the increase in natural gas proved reserves” — demonstrating how transformational the formation has become in just several years.
What’s this mean for the region, the economy and our environment? The fact and good news is that “the natural gas success story in America is still in its infancy” and “game-changing” benefits like strengthened energy security, enhanced air quality and even more opportunities for local small businesses for decades to come.
Here’s what newspapers across the region are saying about the opportunities made possible by responsible shale development:
SHALE IMPACT FEE TAX FUNDS LOCAL PROJECTS
- Elk Co. Avoids Tax Hike Thanks to Shale Impact Fee Tax: A windfall of natural gas drilling fees is expected to ferry Elk Co. through the coming fiscal year, covering would-be budget gaps and avoiding a potential tax hike at the county level. In its regular meeting at the Courthouse Annex in Ridgway on Tuesday, the Elk Co. Board of Commissioners tentatively adopted a $12.3 million operational budget — or $35.3 million overall budget — free of a tax increase or cuts to vital services. … The board credits continuing infusions of state Act 13 Impact Fee dollars, collected on Marcellus Shale wells. … The county has received more than one-million dollars in Impact Fee revenue since the fees were imposed as part of 2011 updates to Pa.’s oil and gas laws. “The availability of Marcellus Shale gas (Act 13) funds has been a source of revenue that has been discretionally used to the taxpayers’ benefit,” a statement from the board reads. “And thus has aided what otherwise would be budget shortfalls.” The board, on Tuesday, also approved $50,000 in grants of its Impact Fee shares to projects ranging from equipping St. Marys Police with body armor to expanding local drug and alcohol treatment services. (Bradford Era, 12/3/14)
- St. Marys Council Seeks Impact Fee Tax Funding for Environmental Projects: In votes held during Monday’s work session, council agreed to apply for a $10,000 cut of county Act 13 impact fee dollars as well as a $10,000 cut from the Elk County Community Foundation, a local non-profit. If granted, the Act 13 money will be used to purchase a back-up generator supporting a city emergency management center to be located inside the basement of city hall. … The county has received more than $1 million in Act 13 funds since the program was implemented in 2011. It has also established a grant program for municipalities, most of whom receive their own shares of the fee imposed on Marcellus Shale wells drilled within their borders. (Bradford Era, 12/2/14)
- Community Parks May Be Funded with Natural Gas Impact Fees: The township’s park advisory board has recommended the supervisors look into adding multi-purpose fields at the Community Park next to the township building on Brose Road. … Adding the fields and making them available for local club sports to rent could be a revenue source for the township, officials said. “The fields we have are used to capacity,” said Rob Peters, a parks advisory board member. “I think it’s important to meet the needs of the community.” … The fields would be paid for with grant money and the township’s allocation from Marcellus shale gas drilling impact fees. “Our goal for the park is to not spend taxpayer dollars,” township secretary Adam Hartwig said. “If we have the ability to create available playing surface that can generate revenue and ease administration costs, it’s definitely something that can be explored.” (Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, 11/30/14)
BROAD BASED LOCAL BENEFITS
- Marcellus Shale Helps Small Business “Take Off”: In the late 1990s, he started two companies: one that specializes in land clearing, and one that cuts up and recycles wood waste. … But it’s been in the last five years — during the boom in Marcellus Shale gas production — that his business has taken off. His employees have gone from 25 to 100. His processing site in North Fayette has expanded to fill all 35 acres of land he owns alongside Route 22. … The impact of increased natural gas production in the region has rippled out to local businesses such as restaurants, gas stations and rental homes. Mr. Vaccarello’s ventures — which include the two companies, Land Clearing Specialists Inc. and Wood Waste Recycling, as well as a recent start-up, Absolute Reclamation Services — are positioned for a windfall because they can help advance gas production while promoting environmentally friendly practices, he said. … About half of the 600 total jobs finished by his land clearing company in the last year came from the gas industry and mostly involved drilling sites that are usually about 15 acres and take two weeks to clear. (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 12/1/14)
- “Struggling Farmers Say Fracking Can Help to Save Their Farms”: Sullivan and Broome counties are prime areas for oil and gas drilling, as they both sit atop the oil and gas rich Marcellus and Utica shales. … The benefits, according to these landowners, are significant. The number one benefit they all agree on is jobs. … Whittaker looks at Pennsylvania where small towns have been “reinvigorated.” She credits jobs with bringing in more people, better road systems, and more tax dollars for schools. Fitzsimmons says the schools benefit the most. Bradford County, Pa., is a prime example of the economic benefits associated with fracking … “Bradford County is the happiest drilled county in Pennsylvania,” having been the poorest county in the state before, he says. … The report notes other economic benefits to the county such as “rail, roads, and hotels, and local nonprofits informally are reporting major local charitable giving by gas companies.” (Epoch Times, 11/30/14)
PAVING THE CLEAN ROAD TO ENERGY SECURITY
- Using More Clean Natural Gas to Power Transportation: It’s just one of the considerations that led the Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) to advance our migration of its 500 buses operating from diesel to natural gas. We’ve have liquefied natural gas buses in our fleet since the late 1990’s. We began our big push to natural gas – compressed natural gas (CNG) – in 2011. … The next 40 buses we’re about to order will run on CNG. There’s no shortage of arguments as to the benefits of using natural gas. Natural gas is cleaner and it’s cheaper by as much as $1 per gallon equivalent … Using CNG allows DART to contribute to cleaner air in Dallas while saving taxpayers an estimated $120 million in fuel costs. (The Hill op-ed, 12/3/14)
- “Millions Of Jobs; Billions Of Dollars In Revenue” Have Been Created From Shale: Our country has undergone an energy transformation powered by the expanded implementation of hydraulic fracturing. … These technological breakthroughs are revolutionizing the American energy industry and allowing our nation to speed toward complete energy independence. The U.S. is now the world’s leading national gas producer, reducing our reliance on foreign powers such as Russia and Middle Eastern countries. The effect is bolstered national security and lowered domestic energy prices. Not only has fracking improved America’s chances for energy independence but it has also provided an economic boon to a country struggling to escape the lingering effects of a recession. Millions of jobs and billions of dollars in revenue have been created from the fracking revolution. According to a 2012 study by the research company IHS Global Insight, fracking supports an estimated 1.7 million U.S. jobs and will reach 3.5 million jobs by 2035. (City and State op-ed, 12/1/14)
- Major Pipeline to Transport Clean, Affordalbe Shale Gas to Northeast Consumers: Federal energy regulators have approved a $700 million pipeline project designed to bring cheap Marcellus Shale natural gas from Pa. into high-priced markets in New England and New York. The project’s backers said Wednesday that FERC’s approval means the 124-mile Constitution Pipeline could be built and operational by next winter … The project is the first to be approved out of a slew of proposals designed to bring Marcellus Shale gas to New York and New England. … The Marcellus Shale is the largest-known underground natural gas reservoir in Pennsylvania. … Marcellus Shale gas is about half the cost of the Gulf of Mexico gas that traditionally reached Boston and New York City through existing pipelines. … The Northeast has become increasingly reliant on natural gas for home heating, but congested pipelines are ill-equipped to bring the gas directly from Pennsylvania. (Associated Press, 12/3/14)
Are you a shale advocate? Visit UnitedShaleAdvocates.com to learn more about supporting safe, job-creating shale development.