By The Numbers: Unconventional Natural Gas Powering U.S. Economy

Just one-in-five Americans is “satisfied with the way things are going in the United States,” according to Gallup data published yesterday, and the economy and unemployment are “still viewed as most important problems” facing our nation.

Yet despite our nation’s ongoing economic challenges, IHS Inc., “one of the leading economic analysis and forecasting firms in the world,” issued an analysis this week highlighting the critical and growing role that safe, responsible unconventional natural gas development continues to play across the United States, particularly in Pennsylvania from the Marcellus Shale.

The America’s Natural Gas Alliance (ANGA) commissioned study – available here – evaluates the positive impact American natural gas production is having, and will continue to have, as it relates to job creation, tax revenue generation, as well as its overall economic impact measured by GDP.

Key Study Findings

Unconventional gas is expected to lead future growth in US natural gas productive capacity. By 2015, the share of US natural gas produced from unconventional sources will increase to 67% and, by 2035, will reach 79%. Increased unconventional gas activity will contribute to capital investment, job opportunities, economic growth, government revenue, and lower prices across the country including:

  • Nearly $3.2 trillion in investments in the development of unconventional gas are expected to fuel the increase in production between 2010 and 2035.
  • In 2010, unconventional gas activity supported 1 million jobs; this will grow to nearly 1.5 million jobs in 2015 and to over 2.4 million in 2035.
  • By 2015, unconventional gas activities will contribute nearly $50 billion in federal, state and local government tax and federal royalty revenue; between 2010 and 2035, continued development of unconventional gas will generate a cumulative total of nearly $1.5 trillion in federal, state, and local tax and royalty revenue.
  • Pennsylvania’s 2010 state budget included $11 billion for public transportation and $9 billion for public safety and criminal justice. A combination of corporations, businesses and individuals supporting unconventional natural gas activity paid a combined total of $641 million in taxes to Pennsylvania state and local governments that year, accounting for 6 percent of the state’s transportation budget and 7 percent of spending on public safety and criminal justice.

Regional Study Overview, By The Numbers

Pa. Natural Gas-Supported Jobs: 2015

111,024

Pa. Natural Gas-Supported Jobs: 2035

270,058

Pa. Nat Gas-Related Fed. Tax Revenues: 2015

$3.5 Billion

Pa. Nat Gas-Related Fed. Tax Revenues: 2035

$8.9 Billion

Pa. Nat Gas-Related State Tax Revenues: 2010

$641 Million

Pa. Nat Gas-Related Added Value to GDP: 2015

$16.8 Billion

Pa. Nat Gas-Related Added Value to GDP: 2035

$42.4 Billion

American natural gas is proving to be a powerful and generational turning point for our nation. World renowned energy expert Daniel Yergin took to the weekend opinion pages of the New York Times to emphasize this historic opportunity in a column under the headline “America’s New Energy Reality.” Yergin writes:

  • The [U.S.] natural gas market has been transformed by the rapid expansion of shale gas production. A dozen years ago, shale gas amounted to only about 2 percent of United States production. Today, it is 37 percent and rising.
  • Until fairly recently, energy independence was a subject to get laughs. The joke was that America was actually becoming more and more dependent upon imports. But now “energy independence” has become a subject of serious discussion and debate.
  • This surge is recognized as an engine of economic growth. Increasing domestic supply means that fewer dollars are going overseas and more of them are staying at home, going into investment and job creation.
  • Lower energy costs are also providing a big boost to the revival of manufacturing in the United States and the competitive position of American industries in the global economy. A few years ago, both United States and European petrochemical companies, which use natural gas to make their products, would not have contemplated new investments in the United States. Natural gas was too expensive. Now, with abundant and cheap gas, they are migrating back, bringing billions of dollars of new investment with them — and a lot of new jobs.
  • This new reality requires a new way of thinking and talking about America’s improving energy position and how to facilitate this growth in an environmentally sound way — recognizing the considerable benefits this will bring in an era of economic uncertainty.

And this week, Dr. Yergin appeared on Pittsburgh’s KDKA Radio. Key excerpts from his appearance, which is available here:

  • Shale gas has been “transformative for our energy economy and our country.”
  • Shale gas “changed our picture now where we’re self-sufficient in natural gas and we’re seeing these economic benefits. We’re seeing that it makes the United States much more economically competitive, so the job impact is very large.”
  • The Marcellus is playing a very big role in so dramatically increasing our natural gas resources.”
  • “It’s kind of ironic, you know, they were talking in Pennsylvania, the modern oil industry started in western Pennsylvania and then spread around the world. This shale gas technology is starting in the United States.”