“As more abundant supplies of homegrown natural gas continue to be safely produced, it’s becoming increasingly clear that every square inch of Pennsylvania is benefitting from development of the Marcellus Shale.”
By KATHRYN Z. KLABER
Times Guest Columnist
Communities across the entire commonwealth, including in the Greater Philadelphia, continue to see a wave of benefits associated with Pennsylvania’s historic natural gas revolution. Manufacturing towns and refineries are being revitalized. Small- and medium-sized business are opening and expanding. Jobs are being created, energy costs are more affordable for consumers and businesses, and revenue is pouring back into local economies for critical services and infrastructure improvements. And as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recently reported, the Mid-Atlantic region’s air quality, thanks to expanded natural gas availability and use, is improving markedly.
Though the Marcellus Shale does not underlie southeastern Pennsylvania, these positive environmental and economic impacts are being felt throughout the region. In fact, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry, more than 240,000 Pennsylvania jobs – across all levels of education, union and non-union – are supported by the natural gas industry, all while the national economy remains largely stuck in neutral.
As President Barack Obama said in his recent State of the Union Address, “The natural gas boom has led to cleaner power and greater energy independence. We need to encourage that.”
We couldn’t agree more.
Greater Philadelphia’s close proximity to Marcellus-producing regions provides the commonwealth with transformational economic opportunities.
Take for instance the reopening of the Marcus Hook facility right here in Delaware County. Once the pulse of the Delaware Valley, the Marcus Hook refinery was forced to close last year, putting hundreds of local jobs into jeopardy. It was a major blow to the community. However, thanks to the safe development of job-creating, abundant natural gas, the facility has been repurposed to process ethane and propone – both byproducts of our state’s booming Marcellus Shale industry. Likewise, Philadelphia’s Sunoco refinery has had new life breathed into it thanks to access to affordable supplies of shale resources.
“Our first priority is making America a magnet for new jobs and manufacturing,” added the president in his State of the Union Address. Well, without question, the commonwealth is delivering on these shared goals which have been made possible by natural gas, a fundamental building block for a strong and sustainable manufacturing sector.
Natural gas, however, does not merely create well-site and refinery jobs. The safe development of the Marcellus Shale is lowering energy costs for consumers, allowing them to save and invest more of their own money, all while dramatically enhancing our environment, especially air quality.
According to a recent TD Economics analysis, shale gas production has “saved American consumers an average of $45 billion over the last three years.” Expert economists predict those household energy savings will climb to nearly $75 billion this year, with an average annual household savings of roughly $650. And locally, the region’s largest natural gas utilities averaged a 41.25 percent cut in rates for consumers from 2008 to 2011, equating to nearly $3,200 in average savings per customer during that period.
In addition to lower energy bills, Pennsylvania’s new natural gas regulatory modernization law, Act 13, provides funds for important local investments across the commonwealth. More than $204 million in natural gas revenues have been distributed throughout Pennsylvania – with more than half of these revenues going to local governments – making these undeniable benefits all the more tangible. For its part, Delaware County – where natural gas development does not occur – has received more than $474,000 through Act 13.
As more abundant supplies of homegrown natural gas continue to be safely produced, it’s becoming increasingly clear that every square inch of Pennsylvania is benefitting from development of the Marcellus Shale.
Despite the persistently sluggish national economy, Pennsylvania continues to grow and create tens of thousands of natural gas-related jobs across the supply chain. This historic transformation is pouring revenue back into local communities. It is quite an exciting time for those of us who live, work, and learn in the area. Our industry is very eager to see what the future holds for this sustainable and transformational resource, and we are eager to answer your questions about the work we do. Visit LearnAboutShale.org to ask your questions about natural gas development in our region – and see the answers to questions your neighbors have already asked as well.
Kathryn Klaber is CEO of the Pittsburgh-based Marcellus Shale Coalition. Visit MarcellusCoalition.org to learn more.
NOTE: Click here to view this column online.