Pennsylvania's Natural Gas Boom

Economic & Environmental Impacts

JUNE 8, 2010 | Policy Brief by KATRINA ANDERSON, ELIZABETH STELLE

The Marcellus Shale formation is believed to be the largest unconventional natural gas reservoir in America, and its exploration has been coined a modern-day gold rush. More than a mile underground, this once unreachable gas is now recoverable thanks to advancements in horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing technology.

Dozens of drilling companies are investing in Pennsylvania and boosting the economy by creating high-paying and permanent jobs. A Penn State University study estimated Marcellus Shale activity generated more than 44,000 jobs in 2009. Those who need jobs the most are being put to work, as much of the drilling activity is occurring in rural, economically depressed areas of Pennsylvania.

Unfortunately, all of these positive developments could be eroded if proposals to impose additional taxes and regulations are  imposed by Harrisburg. Those who would hinder the Marcellus Shale development are misinforming legislators and the public about the drilling process and the state's environmental safeguards. Regulations in Pennsylvania are among the strictest in the nation. Within the last year, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has raised permitting fees to pay for greater oversight and enacted a host of new water regulations. Yet there has been little to no evidence to suggest that Pennsylvania's natural resources are seriously threatened by drilling.

A short-sighted proposal to garner more state revenue through a severance tax on natural gas would negatively impact the industry's development and stunt Pennsylvania's economic recovery and growth.

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