What Budget Shortfall?

Spiraling deficits, worker furloughs, budget cuts, and tax and fee hikes are common these days in state capitals across the nation. Unemployment remains near double-digits nationally, home foreclosures continue to skyrocket and a fear of a double-dip recession persists. And as economic growth continues to lag, stagflation remains a very serious threat to our economy, and to American families.

Thanks to the tightly-regulated 60 year-old oil and natural gas stimulation technology called hydraulic fracturing, however, tens of thousands of good-paying Americans jobs are being created and billions in much-needed revenues are being generated. At the same time, enormous amounts of reliable homegrown energy resources are being safely delivered to American consumers and small businesses, helping to drive down our nation’s dependence on unstable regions of the world to fuel our economy.

In North Dakota, where there’s virtual full employment, the responsible development of the state’s oil-rich Bakken Shale formation, enabled by hydraulic fracturing, continues to be an economic boon for the region. This from a Minot (ND) Daily News story this week under the headline “Oil revenue plays big role in state budget”:

Tax collections from oil and gas totaled nearly $583 million in 2010, a 43 percent increase from 2009 and a 250 percent increase since 2006, said Cory Fong, state tax commissioner. Biennium oil and gas tax collections are expected to total $1.4 billion for 2009-2011 and more than $2 billion during 2011-2013, he said. The state’s general fund budget this biennium is $2.7 billion.

Oil and gas tax revenues that have helped create a $1 billion state surplus also are pulling duty to support several spending areas, from property tax relief to schools and local infrastructure.

And in Pennsylvania, where the Mighty Marcellus Shale – the second largest natural gas field in the entire world – is being responsibly developed thanks to fracture stimulation technologies, the Associated Press reports today that the Commonwealth’s “unemployment rate fell for a second straight month in September, as employers added more than 7,000 jobs to their payrolls.”

Today’s Wilkes-Barre Times-Leader puts the historic economic opportunity into perspective, reporting this under the headline “Drilling backer sees 90,000 new Pa. jobs by end of year”:

Natural gas drilling in the Marcellus Shale is not a “flash-in-the-pan gold rush,” Klaber said, but an industry that will add 90,000 jobs to Pennsylvania’s work force by the end of the year and will produce steady employment for decades to come.

Such activity will not only produce drill site jobs, which Klaber said will move from site to site, but will also create careers at drilling company regional offices, many of which have already opened shop in Pennsylvania.

“I think it has happened quickly, but I think the coverage of it has been pervasive. I mean the interest in it has made it seem faster than it really is,” Marcellus Shale Coalition President Kathryn Klaber told The Times Leader on Wednesday.

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