Natural gas industry consumer, business numbers impressive

The natural gas industry is an easy whipping boy for a wide variety of opponents who have varying beliefs that put them in conflict with the industry.

And to the extent that the opposition holds the natural gas industry’s feet to the fire regarding environmental issues related to the production of the energy, the opposition is a good thing.

But beyond that, any objective observer of the numbers regarding the industry’s results in Pennsylvania would conclude its ascent in the state over the past decade has been a good thing.

According to the Consumer Energy Alliance, Pennsylvanians saved more than $30.5 billion between 2006 and 2016 due to increased natural gas production, with savings almost equally divided between residential and commercial users.

In 2006, when the Marcellus Shale revolution began, prices for natural gas in Pennsylvania were $10.39 per thousand cubic feet. They steadily decreased to $3.72 per thousand cubic feet by 2016.

That’s especially important in our state, where 12.9 percent of the population lives at or below the poverty line and typically spends a quarter of their income on energy.

According to the alliance, half of all Pennsylvanians rely on natural gas as their primary heat source.

Beyond the favorable consumer trends, the advent of natural gas in Pennsylvania has created $44.5 billion in economic impact based on wages paid to those connected to the industry and the growth of small businesses.

And that will continue as transportation of the natural gas supplies becomes more vital in the future. The pipeline industry is growing at a rate of 153 percent and creating more than 21,000 jobs.

So the watchdogging is fine. And criticism comes with the territory for an energy source that relies on the Earth as the origins of its production.

But as long as the correct environmental safeguards are in place, it’s hard to argue with the economic numbers produced by the natural gas industry in the past decade.

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