Appalachian Basin

*Update* Revival in the Rust Belt — Thanks to Natural Gas

An article in today’s Pittsburgh Post Gazette highlights a phenomenon that we’ve talked about plenty on this blog before, but nonetheless deserves comment every time it’s raised. Specifically, we’re talking about the role that natural gas development continues to play in resurrecting industries of yore that once made America’s economy the envy of the world — and can once again, thanks in part to the Marcellus.

As reported in the Post-Gazette, U.S. Steel (more than a great American company, but a great American icon) recently completed its purchase of a steel manufacturing facility near McKeesport, Pa., returning to a place with a long and proud history of making steel for this country.  Wasn’t too long ago, though, that a town once called “Tube City” wasn’t making much of the stuff at all. Today? “These days, the plant employs about 150 workers and produces pipe for the booming Marcellus Shale natural gas drilling industry,” the Post-Gazette reports. And apparently they’re just getting started: “The size of the workforce is expected to grow considerably, McKeesport city administrator Dennis Pittman said.”

Only a couple years in the books since the first Marcellus well was spud by Range Resources, the benefits associated with responsible development have nonetheless been easy to see and increasingly difficult to deny. Let’s take a look at some of the facts:

  • Since arriving in 2006 natural gas producing companies have paid over $1.1 billion in taxes to the Commonwealth.  (PA. Dept. of Labor)
  • Nearly 48,000 people have been hired in the last year by industries related to developing the Marcellus Shale, 71 percent Pennsylvania residents. 9,000 new hires thus far in 2011. (PA. Dept of Labor)
  • The northern tier of PA saw an increase of 1,109 employees from 2008 Q1 to 2010 Q3, for an increase of nearly 1300%. (PA. Dept of Labor)
  • On top of all this companies have also invested nearly $500 million for roadway improvements.  A nice chunk of change to have as the federal government’s highway trust fund teeters on the brink of bankruptcy (Marcellus Shale Coalition).

And in case you’re looking for more, this article sums up the job growth throughout Pennsylvania during the year pretty nicely.

*Update 1:* 

Yet another report was released touting the fact that the Marcellus Shale is spearheading an industrial renaissance in Pennsylvania.  KDKA out of Pittsburgh highlighted the report in a recent news cast.  The report, conducted by the University of West Virginia, highlights the economic effects natural gas production is having on the region and indicates that the City of Pittsburgh, PA is uniquely positioned to be an industry hub.


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