WOWK-TV: Report: Pittsburgh, Surrounding Region at Center of New Energy Economy

Shale gas could offset imported oil and create hundreds of thousands of new jobs for region.

Pittsburgh and a surrounding region that includes West Virginia and parts of Ohio may be at the epicenter of the nation’s new energy economy.

The region’s proximity to shale gas reserves, coupled with its access to a assets such in education, research and investment, point to significant economic opportunities, according to the report “Regional Pittsburgh: The New Energy Economy,” issued in June by the Center for Industrial Research Applications at West Virginia University.

“Regional Pittsburgh” finds itself in a unique position, one that has not been available for more than a century, report authors James E. Smith and Emily Pertl assert. Smith, professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering at WVU, directs the center and Pertl is a former center program coordinator.

The use of natural gas will allow the region to reinvest its energy expenditures back into the region, rebuilding its manufacturing base and employing and re-employing a large segment of its current and future labor force, Smith and Pertl wrote.

They suggest that the initial use of these gas reserves should be in the transportation sector to decrease offshore expenditures in crude oil purchases.

Use of natural gas could add more than a quarter of a million new jobs by the year 2020, they estimated, as well as stimulating additional service and related jobs and creating additional tax revenues.

“Natural gas is clearly the fuel of choice for mobility and power production,” Smith said. “The contents of the gas also represent a resource to re-establish our lagging chemical industry. All of this will re-energize the work force and provide future generations with a positive and predictive vision for the future.”

The report was inspired by a request from Jan Lauer. Lauer directs 3 River Clean Energy and serves as president of Pittsburgh Region Clean Cities, one of 87 U.S. Department of Energy funded coalitions that encourage the adoption of clean, alternative transportation fuels.

The report may be found online HERE.

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