Pennsylvania State Energy Plan Backs Shale Development

Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett recently released his state energy plan, focusing heavily on continued shale development in the Keystone State.  Because of Pennsylvania’s abundant natural resources, Gov. Corbett called for an “all of the above and below” approach to energy, harnessing the power of traditional fuels and new technologies. The plan focuses on energy as a means toward continued employment growth in the Commonwealth, using the apt slogan, “Energy Equals Jobs.”

According to the details of the plan, Pennsylvania ranks as:

  • The second largest energy field in the world
  • The fourth largest state in the nation in terms of total energy production (3,858 BTU)
  • The second largest natural gas producer among all fifty states

The state energy plan also notes that the Keystone State “went from importing 75% of its natural gas just five years ago to now being a net exporter of natural gas for the first time in 100 years.”  This is clearly due to the development of shale resources, as the plan highlights:

“The exploration and production of natural gas from unconventional shale formations, such as the Marcellus and Utica, is nothing short of a game-changer. Advances in horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing techniques have enabled the safe extraction of natural gas from shale reserves once thought untouchable.”

Development of abundant and affordable natural gas from shale formations like the Marcellus has led to a more secure energy future for the entire country — even more so here in Pennsylvania.  More natural gas production has created a less volatile energy market, leading to more affordable energy bills for Pennsylvania consumers. As the report notes:

“The abundant electric generation resource has lowered wholesale electricity prices over 40% in just the past five years. This decrease has saved the average Pennsylvania household nearly $1,000 a year and considerably lowered energy costs for commercial and industrial customers.” (emphasis added)

The state energy plan also touts the positive environmental impacts that shale development has brought to Pennsylvania.  Indeed, consuming domestically produced natural gas has led to improved air quality and helps lower greenhouse gas emissions.

Shale development has also fueled a manufacturing revolution here in the United States. Wet gas – ethane, butane, propane and pentane – developed in the southwestern part of the state is used as a feedstock for plastics and other chemical manufacturers, which means low-cost natural gas means lower costs for manufacturers.  As we all know, an increase in manufacturing operations also provides significantly more job opportunities for hardworking Americans.

Here are some more highlights from the state energy plan:

  • “Over 240,000 Pennsylvanians work in core and ancillary jobs associated with the oil & gas industry, with core wages substantially higher ($84,388) than a statewide average of $48,824.”
  • “By 2020, shale gas development will contribute nearly $14 billion in economic activity to Pennsylvania and generate $5.6 billion in federal, state and local taxes.”
  • “Total industry investment by exploration and production companies is projected at $13.5 billion in 2013.”
  • “Shale gas development could help grow Pennsylvania employment by 570,000 jobs or more by 2020.”
  • “The total contribution to Pennsylvania’s economy from shale gas development is projected to increase nearly six-fold to over 442 billion annually, from 2010 to 2035.”

As support for shale development continues to grow across the Keystone State, so too will the economic opportunities that accompany responsible production.  Thanks to shale, high-paying jobs and lower energy costs have become a reality for those living in Pennsylvania.  And thanks in a large part to increased natural gas use, over 500 million tons of emissions have been removed from the Commonwealth’s air.

As the state energy plan describes, developing natural gas from the Marcellus Shale is a win not only for our economy, but also for our environment.

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