Like California in 1849, Pennsylvania’s Marcellus Shale a “Gold Mine”

The Marcellus Shale natural gas play has been – and will continue to be for the foreseeable future – a major economic engine for the states that it encompasses, particularly New York and Pennsylvania. Advocates and government officials from every level continue to fight safe, effective and well-regulated natural gas production in this region. The job creation and economic opportunity potentials are overwhelming.

But there is a very grave threat that would curb all of this positive growth and development some are advocating for in Washington. Called the FRAC Act, this legislation would strip the states of their right to regulate the 60-plus year old energy production process known as hydraulic fracturing.

Thankfully, though, key proponents of affordable and reliable energy are speaking out with force. US Congressman Glenn Thompson (R-PA) took to the pages of the Washington Examiner over the weekend, expressing his support for the jobs and economic promises that the Marcellus Shale holds, as well as the safe, well-regulated fracking process critical to producing the natural gas thousands of feet below the surface.

Thompson, a member of the House Small Business panel, wrote this in a columned entitled “There is a natural gas gold mine under our feet”:

The safe and well-regulated process involved in producing and delivering natural gas from the Marcellus has already paid dividends to our region and commonwealth. According to a recent Penn State study, Marcellus Shale natural gas drilling last year generated 29,000 jobs, added $2.3 billion to the economy and generated $240 million in state and local taxes. For 2009 the estimates are 48,000 jobs, $400 million in tax revenues and economic output will top $3.8 billion.

But that process – an energy technology known as hydraulic fracturing – finds itself under withering attack today. Not because it’s dangerous, or untested, or ineffective. No, it’s being targeted for elimination today because it’s considered too effective.

The first-term central Pennsylvania congressman closed with this:

The Marcellus Shale represents a tremendous opportunity to expand and grow the economy, get people back to work, decrease our debt and lessen our dependence on imported energy.

With an economy in peril, millions of Americans out of work, and our dependence on far-away dictators for our energy growing by the day, not since the second World War has there been a more important time to put our region’s massive energy resources to good use.

In hydraulic fracturing, we now have the tools we need to confront these challenges in a safe and effective way. And if history is a guide, you can bet that’s exactly what we’ll do.

Testament to the Marcellus Shale’s long-term economic capacity, the Washington Observer Reporter wrote this under the headline “Expert predicts prosperous Pa. future with natural gas” recently:

An author of a study on the economic impact of the Marcellus Shale region said Friday that Pennsylvania could become a gas exporting state and by the end of the next decade could be hosting a $13.5 billion industry that generates 175,000 new jobs across the state.

But Dr. Robert Watson, professor emeritus of petroleum and natural gas engineering at Penn State, told members of the Washington County Chamber of Commerce that the industry, which invested $2.8 billion and created 29,000 jobs last year in Pennsylvania, faces a variety of physical, environmental, governmental and even psychological challenges.

Watson, who co-authored the study with several others in the energy field, said the Marcellus Shale region, which stretches across two-thirds of Pennsylvania and occupies parts of four other states, has the potential of supplying most of the energy needs for the Northeast for the next 100 years.

Jobs, energy security for a century, much-needed state revenues: Why again is US Senator Bob Casey, and others, opposed to the safe production of American natural gas? Please ask them why.

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