Pittsburgh, Pa. – As The Economist reports in a cover story series focused on American competitiveness, the safe development of domestic natural gas represents a “Deep sigh of relief” for our nation economically. For its part, the Marcellus Shale Coalition is reaching “out to the community” about the tremendous “potential and prosperity” associated with the responsible development of clean-burning American natural gas. And as NPR reports this week, this tightly-regulated development “has led to an economic boom” across Pennsylvania, especially for rural farmers.

Here’s what they’re saying, which explains, as National Journal reports, “Why the White House Loves Natural Gas” – just as the American people do.

HOMEGROWN NATURAL GAS: A POTENT ECONOMIC ENGINE

  • “Shale Drilling Changes Prospects for American Dream”: Once a dairy farmer, then a construction worker who waited tables at night, George Laird, 67, dreaded the day he would have to sell off sections of his 159-acre farm in Auburn Twp. in order to retire. Now that several Marcellus Shale wells are pulling gas from beneath his property, he is making enough money to save for his children’s retirement. “I think everyone dreams of getting a lottery ticket that would win a million dollars,” he said, flipping through pages of royalty stubs. “This is so much better than a lottery ticket because you’re winning every month.” Marcellus Shale development in Susquehanna County has helped the lucky and the shrewd achieve aspects of the American Dream that might otherwise have been outside their reach: large landowners are holding on to their property and profiting from it, entrepreneurs are starting businesses or expanding them and leaseholders are retiring comfortably a few years early. (Independent Weekender, 3/20/13)
  • Marcellus Shale Supply Chain Benefits “Are Easy to See”: Driving through the south-western corner of the state, the benefits of this “shale gale” are easy to see. New roofs, fences, barns and tractors have sprouted on many local farms; plenty of shiny new pick-up trucks ply the roads. By one estimate, Pennsylvanians who allow drilling on their land earned some $1.2 billion in royalties last year. Suburban office parks are proliferating outside Pittsburgh, the biggest city in the area, with space being snapped up by oil firms, their suppliers and subcontractors, lawyers and environmental consultants. Even the most basic restaurants are overflowing at lunchtime, a local complains. … Cheap gas is also translating into cheap electricity, since America’s marginal power supplies tend to come from gas-fired plants. … Indeed, cheap energy is cited as one factor by those who predict a manufacturing renaissance in America. (The Economist, 3/16/13)
  • NBC News: “Energy Boom Dawning in America”: The newfound [domestic oil and natural gas] resource is so much bigger than anticipated that it can help drive economic growth nationwide for years to come. … Thanks to the new drilling techniques, an estimated 2,200 trillion cubic feet of recoverable natural gas in the U.S. – or a century’s worth – and billions of barrels of oil are now believed to be locked in rock formations, spanning from California to Pennsylvania, according to the EIA. … The already-low natural gas prices and anticipated decline in oil prices have many analysts projecting a ripple effect that will energize the long-moribund U.S. manufacturing sector. The Citigroup report, for examples, lists more than 30 companies expanding capacity in the U.S. because of cheaper energy. (NBC News, 3/18/13)
  • United States Steel CEO: Thanks to Shale Gas, “Manufacturing Renaissance Underway”: As a result of this new supply source and our ability to extract it safely and economically, there is a renaissance under way in the manufacturing sector. It is propelled by the availability and competitive pricing of natural gas. Electric utilities, industrial users including refiners, chemicals, steel, and the transportation sector, and households are all turning to natural gas as a clean and cost effective energy source. … The energy sector has been a rare bright spot for us during a challenging period of economic recession and slow growth in the rest of the economy. (Congressional testimony, 3/21/13)
  • Safe Marcellus Development Fostering Community Bank Growth: The stable, if long sleepy, country bank has grown fast over the past four years, fueled by Marcellus Shale royalty deposits and related economic activity in the counties where it does business. One of the bank’s challenges has been lending out the money that comes in – the chief way banks earn money. … Craig Best, chief executive officer at Penn Security, called Peoples a well-run, solid institution. While bankers don’t welcome new competition, he said it will be good for customers and the area economy. “This provides competition, keeps loan rates low, and makes money available where it the community needs it,” he said. (Scranton Times-Tribune, 3/15/13)
  • Shell CEO: Natural Gas the “Most Straightforward Way to a Cleaner Future”: “The world needs to follow America’s lead and take full advantage of the cleanest-burning fossil fuel, and that’s natural gas,” Peter Voser said. “Increased use of natural gas is the biggest single step that the world can take today to begin reducing” carbon dioxide emissions. (Boston Globe, 3/22/13)
  • Economic “Ripple From Pa.’s Marcellus Shale Boom” Hits Northampton Co.: Forks Township will soon feel a small ripple from Pennsylvania’s Marcellus Shale boom. To keep up with growing demand for natural gas, Columbia Gas Transmission has applied to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to add roughly 16 miles of new pipeline in southeastern Pennsylvania and New Jersey that will require an significant upgrade to the company’s compressor station on Klein Road. The new pipeline will stretch from Chester County to New Jersey, helping to fuel a planned natural gas-fired power plant. (Allentown Morning Call, 3/14/13)
  • Consumer Advocate: New England Families, Businesses “Need Greater Natural Gas Access”: The recent natural gas exploration and production boom has led to growing natural gas supplies, resulting in lower natural gas prices and lower energy costs. These lower prices have led to increased electricity generation from gas-fired generators in New England, nearly tripling from 15% in 2000 to 42% in 2012. … Given the myriad of regulatory policies and legislative initiatives that have saddled New Englanders with the highest electricity rates in the country and have hurt our manufacturing base, we need access to reliable and more affordable energy supplies. Expanding the natural gas pipelines in the region will provide it. (Fosters Daily Democrat op-ed,3/18/13)
  • New IHS Study: “Marcellus Now Largest U.S. Natural Gas Producing Play”: Recent pipeline expansions have helped the Marcellus shale play reach a production rate above 7 billion cubic feet (BCF)/day; surpassing the Haynesville shale to become the largest gas producing play in the U.S., according to a new HIS report. … Despite the overall decline in activity, the Marcellus still has more gas-directed rigs running than any other U.S. play. Activity has remained strong in the top five counties — Bradford, Lycoming, Susquehanna, Tioga and Washington. Except for Washington County, the other four counties are located in the dry gas window in the northeast section of the state. (Release, 3/18/13)
  • “IHS: Marcellus Shale Producing More Than 7 bcfd”: Recent pipeline expansions have helped the Marcellus shale play reach a production rate of more than 7 bcfd to become the largest US gas-producing play, according to a new IHS Herold Marcellus Shale Company Play Analysis. … In a separate report last year,Fitch Ratings said anticipated growth in Marcellus gas production likely will mean more long-term business for US midstream companies, Fitch analysts forecast Marcellus production during the next 5 years will grow to more than 10 bcfd. (Oil & Gas Journal, 3/18/13)
  • Natural Gas Ushers in a Rust Belt Manufacturing Rebirth: U.S. Glass hopes to begin hiring this spring at the soon-to-be-restarted Fenton Art Glass factory in Williamstown, W.Va. … Natural gas is a significant part of a glassmaker’s cost. In one way of looking at it, for an item with a lot of hand labor in it, gas might be 5 percent of the cost, Bem said. For a highly automated item, it’s 10 to 25 percent. But that really understates it, he said, because it assumes the ovens are used 24 hours per day, 365 days per week. … Cheap gas is a big advantage — and forecasts say the new technologies that have made shale gas accessible mean the U.S., and this region, will have that for decades to come. A glass plant in eastern Europe pays nearly 10 times for gas what Bem expects to pay in West Virginia. “There’s gas here,” he said, “and there’s not gas in Verona, Italy, in Shenzhen, China or in Mexico City, Mexico. Competitors in those places don’t have the structural advantage of having supply literally under their feet — that’s why Williamstown, W.Va. turns out to be a great place to employ a lot of people.” (State Journal, 3/14/13)
  • “Experts Project Vast Growth for Natural Gas Economy”: Experts say West Virginia’s natural gas economy could see nearly six-fold growth by 2035 and revive the state’s struggling manufacturing and chemical sectors. While the state’s natural gas industry has grown in recent years, driven by development in the Marcellus shale region, American Petroleum Institute executive vice president Marty Durbin says the industry has only just begun scratching the surface. (Charleston Daily Mail, 3/20/13)

CLEAN, AMERICAN NATURAL GAS: POWERING TRANSPORTATION

  • “PUC Chair ‘Extremely Bullish’ on Natural Gas Vehicles”: Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission Chairman Robert Powelson came to Bucks County Friday to champion the widespread adoption of natural gas vehicles. Powelson…said Pennsylvania stands to be a leader in compressed natural gas, or CNG, because of the abundance of natural gas in the state and a growing infrastructure that supports such vehicles. “We have an opportunity here in Pennsylvania,” he said, with the Marcellus Shale gas formation and money available from gas drilling impact fees for CNG vehicles and stations. Compressed natural gas is heralded as a cheaper, cleaner fuel for vehicles. … “I’m extremely bullish on the use of CNG vehicles,” he said. “The economics are here. The energy source is here.” (Courier Times, 3/17/13)
  • “EQT Corp. Adds to Natural Gas Station in Strip District; Customer Demand Rising Quickly”: Part of EQT Corp.’s effort to increase demand for the natural gas that it’s extracting from the Marcellus Shale appears to be paying off. The Downtown-based gas driller announced Wednesday it was adding a fueling island to its compressed natural gas (CNG) station in the Strip District. Construction already is under way to add two fuel dispensers to the site’s current six. … CNG has fewer emissions that traditional gasoline and is cheaper — the CNG at the Strip District station costs $1.89 per equivalent gallon of regular gasoline. … EQT said four customers make up nearly half of its business at the Strip District site: the City of Pittsburgh, UPMC, Paragon Foods and Veterans’ Taxi. (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 3/21/13)
  • “EQT Expanding Natural Gas Fueling Station”: Business has been brisk enough at EQT Corp.’s natural gas fueling station on Smallman Street that it is adding another fueling island. Construction is under way on the addition, EQT said in a release. “EQT’s fueling station has experienced consistently increasing customer interest and sales since its inception,” David Ross, vice president of demand development, said in a prepared statement. “We knew we’d be expanding at some point, but we were ahead of schedule at just 18 months of operation.” (Pittsburgh Business Times, 3/20/13)
  • American Shale Gas “Could Transform Transportation”: What to do with the natural gas glut produced by the U.S. fracking boom? One answer: Planes, trains and automobiles. … “The use of liquefied natural gas as an alternative fuel is a potential transformational change for our railroad and for our industry,” Matthew Rose, chief executive of the railroad controlled by Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway, said. (Quartz, 3//14/13)

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