CBS 21: Marcellus Shale has potential to make PA a global natural gas supplier

Reported by: Chris Papst
Contributor: Nate Wardle
Published: 7/21/2011

Could Pennsylvania be the next Saudi Arabia?  A new study by Penn State seems to think so.

For lack of a better term, Pennsylvania is sitting on a gold mine.  A recent study from Penn State, which was funded by the oil industry, found that the Marcellus Shale in PA has the potential to be the second largest natural gas field in the world.  There’s hundreds of trillions of cubic feet of natural gas in this area.

By all accounts, the Marcellus Shale industry in Pennsylvania is still in its infancy.  But new numbers from Penn State show it’s growing up quickly.

In 2009, the industry had 700 wells drilled while supporting 60,000 jobs.  In just two years, 2300 wells have been drilled, supporting 157,000 jobs.

By 2020, the industry could produce a quarter of the nation’s natural gas, while supporting more than 250,000 jobs and contributing $2 billion in local and state taxes.

“The Marcellus Shale gas reserve is a phenomenal development in PA,” commented Former Department of Environment Protection Secretary John Hanger.

Hanger says the industry is not only filling government coffers, it’s putting more money in everyone’s pockets.   “Without the new natural gas supply, our electric bills and home heating gas bills would be much higher than they are today,” Hanger stated.

According to Hanger, this gas doesn’t just make Pennsylvania a local supplier; it turns our state into a potential global competitor.  He says the commonwealth will soon be able to compete against countries like Russia, for supplying the natural gas that powers Europe.

“The international implications for the U.S. having more domestic energy producing abilities are significant,” Hanger told CBS 21.

“The natural gas reserve is an opportunity to shift from oil to gas which will have significant national security and economic benefits, but also environmental benefits,” added Hanger.

Those environmental benefits that Hanger speaks of are that natural gas is cleaning burning than oil or coal.  But the other side is that many feel the fracking process that is used to get the gas can contaminate ground water, rivers and lakes.

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