Corbett vision for natural gas drilling in state unchanged

Gov. Tom Corbett was in the area Monday and the centerpiece of his visit was a sort of energy pep talk at the Pennsylvania College of Technology’s Earth Science Center.

Corbett didn’t say a whole lot new, but that might be the point. He didn’t have to.

The area remains positioned geographically and educationally to take full economic advantage of the natural gas drilling boom.

Corbett said natural gas exploration is the cornerstone of Pennsylvania’s future and classified the state as the second largest energy field in the world.

It’s fitting he visited the Penn College Earth Science Center because it is our belief that the college sets this area apart from most other areas in the Marcellus Shale region.

The college started specific natural gas job training as part of its educational offerings several years ago. It is able to use drilling impact fee dollars to offer tuition-free training to provide the basic skills and certifications required for entry-level employment in the oil and natural gas industry.

Lots of areas offer natural gas drilling opportunities. Only a few offer top-notch educational training within minutes of drilling sites to prepare students as qualified employees for the gas companies.

That is the sort of built-in advantage that will help sustain the industry’s presence in our region, even through the inevitable cyclical ups and downs that go with any energy industry.

Significantly, Corbett also took the opportunity to say there is no “either-or choice between energy and the environment.” As much of an advocate as he is of the economic potential of natural gas, Corbett has been vigilant about taking care of the environment in the process.

The governor is seeking a second term in what shapes up as a contentious gubernatorial battle this year.

If he is not Pennsylvania’s governor this time next year, we hope his successor carries the same responsible advocacy of the natural gas drilling industry.