New opportunities attached to gas drilling continue

Chemical engineers can receive starting salaries of $66,000, according to recent figures, and some can earn six figures.

There probably will be jobs available for them in this region as part of the ongoing natural gas research and economic expansion courtesy of that industry, according to U. S. Department of Energy officials who spoke here last week.

Pete Rozelle, a program manager from the department’s Office of Fossil Energy, was talking potential investments at a Williamsport/Lycoming Chamber of Commerce breakfast Thursday.

Local industries that manufacture piping, wiring and other products supporting the industry are potential benefactors.

Some of the products derived from natural gas include auto parts, coatings, television parts, toys, footwear and computer parts.

All of the jobs emanating from these opportunities are the sort of high-paying positions that can prevent the much-talked-about brain drain that has long been an issue in rural Pennsylvania.

People who oppose or do not understand the natural gas industry tend to see it as a one-trick pony completely dependent on market trends, subject to booms and busts.

But the industry is always evolving, and with that evolution comes new economic, employment and business opportunities. One of the more exciting things going on now is injection of carbon dioxide to ensure recovery of as much oil from the ground as possible.

Perfecting that process takes research and development. That takes people. Highly skilled people. And that creates opportunity.

Which is why environmentally safe development of the natural gas industry should be embraced rather than fought.