Clean, American Natural Gas: Providing Local, National Benefits

The many uses of natural gas continue to benefit local Pennsylvanians as well as our economy – and environment – on a national scale. Job growth, environmental stewardship and community engagement are at the core of our industry’s Guiding Principles. And by nearly all accounts, these are commitments made and kept.

Last week, in fact, a new report by McKinsey Global Institute pinpointed five catalysts for economic growth or “game changers.” Identified as one of the top performers – promising sustainable U.S. GDP growth – was safe shale gas development. McKinsey’s projects that U.S. shale production may add as much as $690 billion a year to GDP and help create nearly 1.7 million jobs across the economy by 2020. This is especially good news, since, according to Gallup research, the U.S. underemployment rate is 17.2%, with “more than 20 million Americans remain unemployed or grossly underemployed.”

And economists are recognizing these clear benefits, especially for small businesses. This week, for example, Jeff Frankel, an economics professor at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, told the Associated Press that “’The fracking revolution is clearly good news from the national security and economic standpoint’ since it reduces imports and generates jobs and investment in America.”

Further, from an environmental safety standpoint, the Associated Press reported last week that hydraulic fracturing, specifically in southwestern Pennsylvania, “shows no evidence that chemicals from the natural gas drilling process moved up to contaminate drinking water aquifers.”

This is great news all around. Here are more positive natural gas-related developments:

  • Shale Gas one of the “Biggest Forces to Hit the U.S. Economy in Modern History”: The expanding shale industry supported 1.7 million jobs in 2012 and produced $62 billion in state and federal tax revenue, according to IHS/CERA, the energy consultancy. “The new narrative about shale gas is about jobs, economic growth, global competitiveness, and a U.S. manufacturing renaissance,” says Dan Yergin, the energy expert and author of “The Quest.” The public gets the narrative. A Pew Research poll found 48% of respondents favor increased use of hydraulic fracking of shale. (Wall Street Journal, 7/19/13)
  • Penn College to Offer Tuition-Free Natural Gas Career Training Supported by Marcellus Shale Impact Fees: With Act 13 (impact fee) funding recently approved by the Lycoming County Commissioners, Pennsylvania College of Technology will provide $50,000 in ShaleNET scholarships to 50 veterans, unemployed and underemployed residents of the county. The college will offer tuition-free training – $1,000 per student – to provide the basic skills and certifications required for entry-level employment in the oil and natural gas industry. … “This is a substantial investment in the future for residents of Lycoming County, especially for veterans, unemployed and underemployed persons. This action underscores the priority the county and Penn College place on training our residents for lifelong careers in the oil and gas industrycareers that pay family-sustaining wages and enhance the quality of life for individuals, families and the county.” The average annual wage for Marcellus Shale core industries is approximately $83,000, according to the state Department of Labor and Industry. (Release, 7/18/13)
  • CONSOL’s Shale Gas Lease Boosts Allegheny Co. Airport Authority’s Credit Rating: Fitch Ratings upgraded its rating Monday for the majority of the Allegheny County Airport Authority’s bonds from “BBB-plus” to an “A-minus” in response to the income from gas drilling leases on airport property. … When upgrading the rating, the agency cited Pittsburgh International Airport’s stable passenger base, the lack of competition within 100 miles, and additional income from a $46.3 million deal with Consol Energy to drill for gas on airport land. (Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, 7/22/13)
  • MSC: “We Should Celebrate Economic Activity” Tied to Safe Natural Gas Production: The industry spent more than $500 million statewide on repair and replacement projects on state roads since the natural gas boom began, said Kathryn Klaber, chief executive officer of the Marcellus Shale Coalition. That does not include nearly $406.7 million in impact fees the state PUC said natural gas drillers were required to pay to counties over the same period. … … In many cases, [PennDOT district inspection manager Terry McHenry] said drillers leave the roads in better shape than they found them. …”In the end, I think we will have – in most cases…a better roadway system than before they got here,” McHenry said. … “We should celebrate economic activity” that keeps the roads occupied, [Klaber] said. (Citizen’s Voice, 7/22/13)
  • Natural Gas Impact Fee Funds Provide an “Opportunity to Improve our Neighborhoods”: More than $1 million in natural gas impact fees will be used to pave and repair 25 of Williamsport’s streets this fall and next year, enabling the city to get twice as many projects done as in years before, city officials said. “We’re doubling the amount of investment because of Marcellus Shale impact fees,” said John Grado, city engineer and director of community and economic development. … “This gives us an opportunity to improve our neighborhoods and to use dollars to address streets and curbs that have needed upgraded for many, many years.” (Williamsport Sun-Gazette, 7/21/13)
  • Cabot Oil & Gas Corporation Hosts Community Picnic: Company leaders said the purpose of the picnic is to give neighbors the chance to learn more about the company and the growing natural gas industry. “We want to make certain that any of our landowners, any of our residents, community leaders, if they’ve got questions, we want to make an opportunity for them to get answers,” [George] Stark said. … According to company leaders, at the end of 2012, [Cabot] had invested more than $2 billion into Susquehanna County [and] the company plans to invest $750 million more in 2013. … “It gives us the opportunity to pay off our property and maybe do some things that we normally wouldn’t be able to do,” landowner Mike Faillace of Dimmock said. … Adam Diaz, president of Diaz Companies, said his company has grown exponentially thanks to Cabot Oil & Gas. “Since Cabot moved into the area we’ve grown about 300 percent since then.” (WNEP-TV, 7/20/13)
  • Universal Well Services Conversion to CNG a “Win-Win”: The company, which offers fracking, cementing and other services to drillers, has been using dual fuel technology to power 18 of its frack trucks, or the equivalent of one frack fleet. …With the new dual fuel engines, Universal uses less diesel and is able to tap directly into a pipeline infrastructure that the drilling company already has near the well pad. … A typical eight-well pad requires about 144 truckloads of fuel over the course of about a month. “If we can reduce the number of truck loads by half, that is 70 trucks not traveling on the road,” Fontaine said, plus it means less diesel dependency and reduced engine emissions. (Pittsburgh Business Times, 7/23/13)

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