Signs of comeback by natural gas industry welcome

When the natural gas industry was booming in Pennsylvania in 2010 and 2011, there were 111 gas rigs active in the state.

In the fall of 2016, in the midst of an industry slump in Pennsylvania, there were just 13 active rigs.

But the industry has started to come back in the state and, very importantly, in our region.

The number of active rigs in the state is back up to 33, according to David Spigelmyer, president of the Marcellus Shale Coalition.

In concert with that, we know of new hiring being done by the gas industry in our region.

These are important and encouraging economic signs for an industry that is vital to Pennsylvania.

It’s also an industry for which the state must compete. When the industry was plagued by political opposition several years ago, part of it fled to Ohio and other states. Though the Northern Tier of Pennsylvania is a lucrative natural gas nesting ground, it is far from the only one.

Spigelmyer said the Department of Environmental Protection has stepped up efficiency on the regulatory front. The industry wants to be regulated, just so it’s done fairly and efficiently.

The next step for Pennsylvania is getting gas to market. As important as it is to make natural gas available to local consumers, it is just as vital that more pipelines be developed to distribute the natural gas to other areas.

That would make it logical to increase production of natural gas in Pennsylvania.

And when the industry thrives and produces more natural gas, municipalities throughout our region benefit more from the impact fees attached to natural gas revenues. From 2011 to 2015, the combined revenues from impact fees for Lycoming County and its municipalities totaled more than $55 million.

That’s a lot of infrastructure and other improvements that otherwise would be unaffordable to the county and municipalities.

A fairly regulated, environmentally friendly natural gas industry is good for our region and state. The comeback of the industry is welcome news.