MSC in PennLive: This deer season, here’s how our industry is helping hunters share the harvest

Everyone can agree that Pennsylvania is rich in natural beauty. From hunting and fishing, to hiking, camping or canoeing, we all enjoy getting outdoors and exploring what is right in our backyard.

We and our respective organizations’ members hold a deep commitment to conservation and environmental stewardship aimed at protecting the land, air and water that makes Pennsylvania so special.

It’s no coincidence that so many companies and leaders in the natural gas industry – from producers and midstream operators, to members of the vast supply chain – support conservation-minded community efforts such as Hunters Sharing the Harvest.

This nonprofit venison-donation program has linked hunters, butchers and local food banks since 1991, allowing for the distribution of 1.2 million pounds of donated meat to local food banks.

The generous support of businesses including the natural gas industry means Hunters Sharing the Harvest can once again cover deer processing costs this year, making it completely free for hunters to help food assistance providers fill the gaps for families and Pennsylvanians at risk of going hungry.

It’s a natural partnership for an industry focused on responsible energy development that improves lives, benefits communities and protects the environment.

As we continue to see, there should be little doubt that natural gas development can – and does – provide for both economic growth and environmental conservation.

A University of Pennsylvania study released just this month found natural gas costs for families have fallen 40 percent since 2008. These savings – amounting to more than $1,200 annually for households, according to one analysis – are particularly helpful for hard-working families served by Hunters Sharing the Harvest.

What’s more, Pennsylvania’s tax on natural gas, the impact fee, has generated more than $1.2 billion in new revenue for communities.

This valuable revenue source directly benefits each county, as well as key statewide environmental conservation programs. Impact fee-funded grants such as those announced by the state last week provide funding for local projects like park expansions, new walking trails, and greenspace preservation.

In addition to the $1.2 billion in impact fees, safe natural gas development in state forests has generated more than $1 billion in new revenue for the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources since 2008.

Additionally, tens of millions of dollars are also collected by the state Pennsylvania Game Commission from gas leases.

When it comes to safely producing the clean energy our country needs, modern shale development produces the most energy with the smallest possible surface footprint. That’s important to sportsmen and organizations like Hunters Sharing the Harvest.

Through a single drilling pad on about an acre of land, a natural gas producer can drill multiple wells reaching shale deposits more than a mile beneath the surface.  After a short period of work on the pad, those wells will efficiently produce the energy we need to power our economy for decades to come.

The Marcellus Shale Coalition continues to work with industry members, regulators and community leaders to ensure best practices are used to responsibly develop and fully reclaim the land when the work is complete.

Scientific data and regulatory oversight confirm natural gas is produced safely. According to regular water monitoring by the Susquehanna River Basin Commission, for example, there has been no change to the quality or quantity of the water in the basin since natural gas development began.

That’s great news for all Pennsylvanians who rely on those waters and woods to hunt and fish.

As our economy and communities benefit from natural gas development, MSC’s members – who produce 95 percent of the natural gas in Pennsylvania – are committed to safely producing, transporting, and using this clean, abundant resource while following through on a commitment to be a good community partner.

With Thanksgiving and the holiday season upon us, there’s much to be thankful for. We’re proud of our partnership with Hunters Sharing the Harvest and of the progress Pennsylvania is making with natural gas.

David Spigelmyer is president of the Pittsburgh-based Marcellus Shale Coalition and John Plowman is executive director of Hunters Sharing the Harvest.

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