Hitting 'pay dirt' in Pennsylvania
There is no doubt that development of Pennsylvania's Marcellus shale natural gas resources has fueled an economic boom across a wide swath of rural Pennsylvania, a region that has floundered economically for decades. But, the impact is being felt not only in those communities, but across Penn's Woods and — as recent events illustrate — could actually play a global role.
After much debate, the General Assembly passed a tax — deceptively called an “impact fee” — on Marcellus gas drillers. The tax has resulted in more than $206 million in revenue to date. Ultimately, 58 companies have been singled out and are required to pay the additional tax above and beyond the taxes all other businesses in the state are required to pay.
Already substantial, the economic impact of Marcellus shale gas is only just beginning to be felt. Speaking at an industry conference in Philadelphia, Gov. Tom Corbett dubbed what has happened so far as the “tip of the spear,” which will spark a new industrial revolution in Pennsylvania. This was not rhetorical hyperbole.
Already the Shell is moving toward development of an ethane “cracker” plant in Beaver County that the Pennsylvania Economy League estimates could create 8,000 new jobs and have a $4.8 billion impact on the state's economy.
In addition to the domestic benefits of Marcellus gas development, the shale reserve could play an important international energy policy role. Recent developments in the Middle East have underscored the fragility of America's dependence on oil from that region. The Sept. 11 terrorist attack that killed the U.S. ambassador to Libya and widespread demonstrations revealed a cultural fault line that has opened a worldwide debate over freedom of speech that threatens to further destabilize the region.
It has become abundantly clear the United States must significantly reduce its dependence on oil from the Middle East. To do that, America must more rapidly develop domestic energy production, and a multifaceted approach is required. We must speed up the tapping of our abundant natural gas, coal and oil resources. Construction of the Keystone pipeline, issuance of more offshore oil drilling permits and responsible drilling in the Arctic Natural Wildlife Refuge are keys to oil development. The Obama administration's “war on coal” must be ended and the industry re-incentivized to spur development.
Despite the overwhelming economic and strategic benefits of the Marcellus shale gas industry in Pennsylvania, challenges remain. Radical environmentalists seek to stop further drilling rather than to advocate for reasonable safeguards. Misinformation about fracking and other aspects of shale development runs rampant. And, as always, there are elected officials who see a goose laying golden eggs, which they want to take to finance unrelated politically popular programs.
For state government, the challenge going forward is to not get in the way. Lawmakers must avoid the temptation to overtax, and the administration must resist calls for overregulation. So far, a relatively reasonable balance has been struck. A lot is riding on keeping it that way.
Lowman S. Henry is chairman & CEO of the Lincoln Institute and host of the weekly Lincoln Radio Journal.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Starkey: Kang story of the year for Pirates
- Penguins GM Rutherford ‘wouldn’t make’ Despres trade today
- Healthy defensive back Mitchell eager for 2nd season with Steelers
- IRS cybersecurity breach touches lives of homebuyers, others
- Ex-S. Allegheny teacher held on sex assault counts
- Pirates use big 7th inning to sweep Marlins, stretch winning streak
- Emergency crews search Youghiogheny River in Layton for Charleroi man
- McKeesport Area poised to close East End Academy
- Propel sixth-graders chronicle McKeesport history for younger peers
- Pittsburgh bicyclist pedaling for pets
- Ford City told to correct problems with pension plan language