WSJ: Natural Gas “May be America’s Best Antipoverty Program”

In a must-read weekend editorial, the Wall Street Journal clearly and effectively articulates the facts about American shale development, its safety and the undeniable benefits associated with this historic opportunity. “One of the biggest benefits from fracking and other new drilling technologies,” the WSJ writes, “is often overlooked: the windfall to American consumers, especially the poor.”

Here are key excerpts from the editorial:

  • Thanks to the lower price for natural gas, families saved roughly $32.5 billion in 2012. (That’s 7.4 billion MMBTUs of residential use of natural gas times the $4.40 reduction in price.) The windfall to all U.S. natural gas consumers—industrial and residential—was closer to $110 billion. This is greater than the annual income of all of the residents in 14 states in 2011.
  • Fracking is a much more effective antipoverty program than is Liheap. In 2012, Liheap provided roughly $3.5 billion to about nine million low-income households to subsidize their home-heating costs. New drilling technologies saved poor households almost three times more. Low gas prices benefit nearly all poor households, while Liheap helps fewer than one in four.
  • No one is doing more to increase income inequality in America than the affluent environmentalists who oppose natural gas drilling.

At the same time, the safe, tightly-regulated development of American shale gas continues to boost local economies and our nation’s manufacturing base.


  • “Pa. ranks 9th in economic growth potential”: A new survey ranks Pennsylvania 9th in the nation in economic growth potential. The Business Facilities ranking report hailed Pennsylvania’s natural gas industry as a big economic catalyst. Here’s what it had to say: We expect the economic benefits from natural gas fracking operations in the Marcellus Shale formation to start paying dividends in PA and OH in terms of spurring economic development in both states. (Philadelphia Business Journal, 9/9/13)
  • Business Facilities survey touts Appalachia’s shale as means for growth: Rounding out our top 10 list for Economic Growth Potential were Florida, Ohio, Virginia, Pennsylvania and Alabama. We expect the economic benefits from natural gas fracking operations in the Marcellus Shale formation to start paying dividends in PA and OH in terms of spurring economic development in both states. … The energy revolution brought on by the successful extraction of vast deposits of natural gas using hydraulic fracturing methods continues to shift the balance of power in the energy wars, so this year we’ve introduced our Natural Gas Production Leaders rankings category. Longtime gas producers Texas and Louisiana top the list, respectively, but horizontal drilling in the Marcellus Shale formation is propelling traditional coal-mining powers Pennsylvania and West Virginia into the front rank of natural gas powerhouses. (Release, 8/30/13)


  • “IHS report: Shale gas to boost U.S. plastics jobs”: Plastics are among many U.S. industries that will benefit from development of shale-based natural gas, according to a new study from research and consulting leader IHS Inc. The report asserts that by 2020 shale energy development will have created almost 15,000 new U.S. plastics industry jobs, as well as almost $1.3 billion in value-added from the industry to GDP and $868 million in labor income. … “Prior to the recent expansion of unconventional gas, the outlook for the [plastics] industry was bleak,” said IHS’ chemical consulting managing director, Mark Wegenka. “It was suffering from significant plant shutdowns and capacity reductions.” “However, as a result of these unconventional oil and gas supplies, we’ve witnessed a complete turnaround,” he added. “The industry is not only competitive again, but it’s attracting significant domestic and foreign investment and adding capacity that’s resulting in more high-quality U.S. jobs that pay well.” (Plastics News, 9/6/13)
  • “Shale a real game-changer for the U.S. plastics industry”: A new IHS study supported by SPI: The Plastics Industry Trade Association projects U.S. shale energy development to be responsible for a 10 percent increase in production for the plastics industry by 2020. That number rises to nearly 13 percent in 2025. … “The abundant new sources of natural gas via shale is set to be a real game-changer for the U.S. plastics industry,” said SPI President and CEO William R. Carteaux. “This new IHS study shows how shale energy development is creating a global competitive advantage for U.S. plastics manufacturers by bringing energy and feedstock prices down. Particularly when you consider that most resins in the United States are produced from natural gas, while those in Europe and Asia are made from oil-based feedstock.” (SPI release, 9/5/13)

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