Northeast Times

Benefits of shale development are too great to sacrifice

Left-wing ad­vocacy group Mo­ve­On.org re­cently launched a new ef­fort to op­pose in­nov­a­tions that are pro­pelling states like Pennsylvania to­ward a new abund­ance of loc­ally pro­duced en­ergy.

Not only is this help­ing to fuel Amer­ica’s man­u­fac­tur­ing renais­sance, but it is also help­ing to make the United States more com­pet­it­ive in the in­ter­na­tion­al en­ergy mar­ket, ad­van­cing our na­tion’s en­ergy in­de­pend­ence and keep­ing Pennsylvania res­id­ents warm in the re­cent harsh winter weath­er.

Un­for­tu­nately, this anti-de­vel­op­ment group is push­ing act­iv­ists to work to ban frack­ing in their loc­al com­munit­ies, without re­gard for the be­ne­fits that this crit­ic­al en­ergy re­source is do­ing to help con­sumers across Pennsylvania and the na­tion. What are the be­ne­fits that would be taken away if Mar­cel­lus shale pro­duc­tion was threatened?

Let’s start with the en­vir­on­ment. Ac­cord­ing to the In­ter­na­tion­al En­ergy Agency, the United States is lead­ing all de­veloped na­tions in re­du­cing our car­bon foot­print since 2006. In fact, in­creased use of nat­ur­al gas for elec­tri­city gen­er­a­tion has led to a 20-year low in U.S. car­bon emis­sions – without a fed­er­al or in­ter­na­tion­al car­bon tax or cap-and-trade scheme.

While it is im­port­ant to un­der­stand that every en­ergy source has an im­pact on the en­vir­on­ment – in­clud­ing nat­ur­al gas – it is in­creas­ingly clear that our na­tion’s shale re­volu­tion is im­prov­ing our en­vir­on­ment while bol­ster­ing our eco­nomy.

Speak­ing of the eco­nomy, ac­cord­ing to the state De­part­ment of Labor, Mar­cel­lus Shale de­vel­op­ment sup­ports more than 239,000 Pennsylvania jobs across a range of sec­tors, from con­struc­tion and man­u­fac­tur­ing to real es­tate and hos­pit­al­ity. Even more im­port­antly, these are good-pay­ing jobs that are sup­port­ing middle-class fam­il­ies in our com­munit­ies.

But shale de­vel­op­ment provides more than work for Pennsylvania res­id­ents; it also has spurred in­vest­ment in our com­munit­ies and fam­il­ies. Gov. Corbett’s re­cently un­veiled En­ergy = Jobs En­ergy Plan es­tim­ates that the oil and gas in­dus­tries will in­ject more than $14 bil­lion in in­vest­ment in­to the Key­stone State’s eco­nomy by 2020. Last year, the nat­ur­al gas in­dustry sent Pennsylvania landown­ers $1.2 bil­lion in roy­alty pay­ments, and the state’s largest nat­ur­al gas util­it­ies have saved rate­pay­ers $3,200 over the last four years through rate re­duc­tions. In ad­di­tion, le­gis­la­tion that Gov. Corbett signed in­to law in 2012 au­thor­iz­ing im­pact fees for shale de­vel­op­ment has res­ul­ted in $400 mil­lion in rev­en­ue in the last two years - on top of the $1.8 bil­lion in state taxes that the nat­ur­al gas in­dustry has paid since 2008.  

These op­por­tun­it­ies are trans­form­ing lives for people across the state. Re­vers­ing this in­vest­ment in­to our com­munit­ies could be dev­ast­at­ing to fam­il­ies across the state and re­gion.

Fi­nally, there is be­ne­fit to Pennsylvania’s con­sumers. Re­cently, the As­so­ci­ated Press found that about two-thirds of Pennsylvani­ans who heat their homes with nat­ur­al gas went in­to the winter sea­son pay­ing the low­est prices in a dec­ade for this time of year, ac­cord­ing to rate in­form­a­tion from the Pennsylvania Pub­lic Util­ity Com­mis­sion. Util­it­ies cred­it the huge volume of gas be­ing pro­duced from the Mar­cel­lus Shale form­a­tion un­der­neath Pennsylvania for push­ing down prices. In most cases, prices this past Decem­ber were less than half what they were in Decem­ber 2008, when the shale boom was just be­gin­ning.

For these reas­ons, Con­sumer En­ergy Al­li­ance sup­ports the safe pro­duc­tion of nat­ur­al gas through sound de­vel­op­ment of the Mar­cel­lus Shale form­a­tion’s abund­ant re­sources. The Key­stone State is uniquely po­si­tioned for eco­nom­ic growth for many fu­ture gen­er­a­tions, and its fu­ture should not hang in the bal­ance of po­ten­tial frack­ing bans or morator­i­ums.

That’s why we re­cently asked the co-spon­sors of the Statewide Nat­ur­al Gas Drilling Morator­i­um Act to with­draw their sup­port for the bill. CEA asks that state Sen. Christine Tartagli­one, a co-spon­sor of this po­ten­tially harm­ful le­gis­la­tion, aban­don her sup­port of any morator­i­um le­gis­la­tion or pro­pos­als that would ban Mar­cel­lus Shale de­vel­op­ment.

We can all agree that the be­ne­fits of prop­erly reg­u­lated shale de­vel­op­ment are too great to sac­ri­fice. Sen. Christine Tartagli­one, please join a plur­al­ity of Pennsylvani­ans who, ac­cord­ing to a re­cent Muh­len­berg Col­lege poll, sup­port con­tin­ued shale de­vel­op­ment in the state. ••

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