MSC member company president in Press & Sun-Bulletin: Drilling could jump-start NY economy

Mark P. Lauriello

Regardless of your position in the debate over using hydraulic fracturing to develop shale gas resources, here’s something we can all agree on: New York state needs an economic jump-start. Local businesses that have supported communities for years are now struggling to survive.

Fortunately, that’s not the case at RETTEW Associates Inc., an engineering firm based in Lancaster, Pa. In recent years, the demand for engineering, surveying and environmental consulting services in Pennsylvania has increased tremendously as the oil and gas industry relies more heavily on local businesses. In the midst of this challenging economic environment, RETTEW is not only surviving, but thriving. At a time when companies in other states are laying off workers, we are proud to be hiring hardworking men and women from Pennsylvania to support our business. A few “real world” examples of the kind of economic benefits shale gas can provide:

» Added more than 200 new jobs since June 2010.

» Expanded our facilities, which generated more than $4.5 million for local contractors and other vendors.

» Purchased 75 new vehicles to support our growth.

» Established a charitable giving fund of $100,000 and have participated in numerous local charity events, including “Relay for Life” and local food banks.

» Created a scholarship endowment at Penn State University.

Why is this important to New Yorkers? Because this same economic prosperity can be realized here if we are able to expand our existing employment base at our New York offices in Delaware and Sullivan counties through the development of shale gas resources. We stand ready, as so many other local businesses do, to be part of New York’s economic revitalization.

Achieving economic gains without addressing environmental considerations is unacceptable, but protecting our land and water and improving our economy are not mutually exclusive goals. That’s why Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the New York Department of Conservation extended the comment period until Jan. 11 and will continue studying the most responsible and safe way to regulate shale gas development that both protects the environment and provides economic opportunities for New Yorkers in desperate need of employment.

But now many cities in New York have proposed or approved moratoriums on shale gas development that could stifle future economic growth. The effect on our business and others could be devastating.

We believe local governments should work with the state to find regulatory solutions that protect human health, preserve the environment and stimulate local economies. Hanging in the balance is the health and future growth of our business, hundreds of new jobs and millions of dollars in tax revenue that ultimately flow back into the community to avoid teacher layoffs at local schools, ensure our libraries remain open, provide much- needed equipment to our fire departments and promote the continuation of city services.

At a time when the economy is struggling to rebound and so many businesses are in need of a lifeline, halting shale gas development is not the answer.

Lauriello is president of RETTEW.

NOTE: Click HERE to view this column online.