The Real Shale Bargain: Marcellus Shale is Lowering Consumer Costs, Creating Jobs, and Improving the Environment
As EID reported, this week the Harrisburg Patriot-News released a series on fracking that really missed the mark. While it did have two “positive” articles titled, The late, great shale state: How Pa. became a leading gas producer and what it means today and Energy Capital of the East: Marcellus Shale drilling brings economic boost, they certainly didn’t even begin to touch on the tremendous benefits the natural gas industry has brought to Pa.
For starters, the first article could have talked about the comeback of American manufacturing or the decrease in air emissions from power generation, thanks to the increased production of natural gas, or any of the other benefits fracking has brought to the state.
The second article did at least talk about some of the job creation from Marcellus shale development. It discussed estimates from IHS Global Insight that the shale gas industry will create 1.6 million jobs and a $200 billion economic impact by 2035. The article also covered the revitalization of Marcus Hook, which has the potential to bring thousands of jobs to the Philadelphia area. Hey, at least there was one positive piece out of the other 27 articles that ran this week!
Marcellus Shale Development is Fueling American Manufacturing
The development of the Marcellus Shale has unlocked a vast amount of affordable, clean energy. Because of this, manufacturers are re-shoring their operations back to America to take advantage of the cheap natural gas and natural gas liquids being produced right here at home. According to The National Association of Manufacturers President and CEO, Jay Timmons:
“Now, let’s take a look at energy, because the time is right—energy that fuels our success as manufacturers and as a country. This is a tremendous moment of great opportunity. America has an unprecedented and incredible global advantage in reliable and affordable energy, and it’s driving manufacturing’s resurgence.”
During his speech earlier this year, Timmons went on to say that thanks to shale gas development, American manufacturing will create a million new jobs over the next 10 to 15 years. Even president Obama praised the manufacturing sector last year during a trip to the Marcellus Shale region, stating:
“Our manufacturing sector that used to be losing jobs, just hemorrhaging jobs, is now adding jobs for the first time since the 1990s.”
As long as the U.S. continues to develop its shale resources we can expect this manufacturing renaissance to continue for years to come, providing hardworking Americans with meaningful jobs and the family sustaining wages.
Pennsylvania’s Natural Gas Production Has Lowered Winter Heating Costs Across the Country
Shale development here in Pennsylvania has unlocked vast amounts of natural gas bringing prices to all-time lows. In fact, according to the Energy Information Agency (EIA), natural gas customers can expect to pay ten percent less between October and March than they did last year.
Besides natural gas, heating oil has also dramatically dropped in price which, according to the EIA, will save consumers 25 percent or roughly $460 less than last winter. These lower heating costs have been a direct effect of the success of shale development here in the United States.
Shale Development in Pennsylvania Has Kept Unemployment Rates Low
Pennsylvania counties that have developed their shale resources have continued to have low unemployment rates when compared to the state and national average, year-over-year.
It’s clear that there’s a direct correlation between low unemployment rates and the expanding energy industry here in Pennsylvania. A study from the American Petroleum Institute found that at least 1,347 businesses spread across all 18 of Pennsylvania’s congressional districts are part of the larger oil and natural gas supply chain.
Power Plants Shift to Natural Gas and Help Lower State Air Emissions
With natural gas production consistently increasing over the last decade, new natural gas-fired power plant projects are beginning to come to fruition. There are currently four such projects planned for Pennsylvania and each one brings with it hundreds of jobs.
- According to Invenergy, Lackawanna Energy Center will create 600 jobs during construction of the facility and once completed the project will generate more than $50 million in community investment.
- The Panda Patriot will “create approximately 500 construction jobs; 27 direct jobs to operate the plant and 45 indirect jobs to support the plant,” and supply up to one million homes.
- The Panda Liberty is estimated to create the same number of jobs as the Patriot, and in supplying another million homes will generate “approximately $5.9 billion to the area’s economy during construction and the plant’s first ten years of operation.”
- The Moxie Freedom is estimated to create yet another 600 jobs that will produce roughly $120 million in payroll and other worker-related revenue.
As Pennsylvania continues to take advantage of the abundant natural gas beneath our feet the state will continue to emerge as an energy power house.
But that’s not the only benefit this shift is has brought. Improving air quality through natural gas end use is a trend we’ve been seeing across the Commonwealth. As the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection has stated,
“Significantly, since 2008, when unconventional drilling across the state began quickly increasing, cumulative air contaminant emissions across the state have continued to decline. In particular, sulfur dioxide emissions from electric generating units (EGU) have been reduced by approximately 73 percent. The emissions of nitrogen oxides and particulate matter have also been reduced by approximately 23 percent and 46 percent, respectively, from this sector.”
According to a recent report from the New York Independent System Operator (NYISO),
“From 2000 through 2014, New York power plant emission rates dropped by double digits. SO2 emissions rates declined 94 percent. NOX emission rates declined 78 percent. CO2 emission rates declined 39 percent.”
Without the development of Pennsylvania’s Marcellus Shale these emissions reductions would have never been possible.
Marcellus Shale Impact Fee Revenue Brings Major Boost to PA Counties
Last year, municipalities across the Commonwealth received $223.5 million from impact fees. To date, that brings the total amount of impact fee revenue for local municipalities to more than $800 million.
These impact fees, which are based on the amount of gas being produced and the price of gas, flow directly into counties and municipalities that host shale development. They even benefit many counties that don’t have any development at all.
So far, we’ve seen this revenue grow year-over-year by over 10 percent in some counties, which has allowed townships to pay for or even expand local public services. And, according to a recent Duke University report, impact fee revenue has actually doubled the operating budgets of some townships.
The Patriot-News missed a great opportunity this week to really educate the public on what this industry has meant for the state and country. Instead it chose to spread biased opinion in place of fact. Luckily for the Commonwealth, these benefits are real regardless of whether the media chooses to ignore them.