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Marvelous Marcellus: Boom & boon

| Wednesday, Aug. 21, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

Marcellus shale drilling in Pennsylvania is exceeding advocates' expectations for economic and energy benefits — and doing so safely, refuting environmental extremists' alarmism.

State and federal data show shale drilling boosting the Pittsburgh region's energy-sector jobs by more than a third since 2005, to 46,644 in 2012. America's seventh-largest natural gas producer in 2011, Pennsylvania now rivals Alaska and Louisiana for second place behind Texas, producing 1.4 trillion cubic feet in the first half of 2013, up 58 percent from the same year-ago period and the most since semiannual state reports began in 2010.

Even with abundant supply lowering prices to what the U.S. Energy Information Administration says are a third of 2008 levels, the shale gas boom — enabled by hydraulic fracturing, or fracking — remains a major boon. As James Panero writes in City Journal, it's expected to yield 1 million manufacturing jobs by 2025, boost GDP by 0.5 percent and save households an average of $900 annually on utility bills.

Shale gas also helped cut U.S. greenhouse gas emissions by 5.3 percent from 2011 to 2012. And Mr. Panero says fracking opponents' claims about methane leaks and groundwater contamination have been debunked. He even finds strong industry support in Dimock, Pa., where “Gasland” so dishonestly portrayed fracking.

Safe, responsible shale gas extraction is more than living up to its promise of a brighter future for Pennsylvania and for America.

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