Performance of gas industry outlasting negative party lines

It’s unsafe. It’s an unsustainable fad.

It’s operated by people who don’t care about the environment using questionable technology. They will ravage our landscape and then leave at the first better opportunity.

Those were the negative party lines regarding the natural gas industry when it began booming in our region and state a bit more than a decade ago.

At a recent Williamsport/Lycoming Chamber of Commerce breakfast, George Stark, director of external affairs for Cabot Oil & Gas, confirmed that the opposite of the naysaying has and is occurring.

“It’s booming in our area,” he said of the industry in 2019.

And the numbers back him up. There were 3,517 gas drilling permits issued in 2018 in Lycoming, Tioga, Bradford, Sullivan and Clinton counties.

Because the technology has improved so much, an average single well can now produce up to 27 billion cubic feet.

Most importantly in our view, that technology has become safer. Our biggest fear at the onset of the boom was an environmental one. The environmental regulations ruling the natural gas drilling industry are strict. And they need to be strict.

But every indication is that the industry is adhering to those regulations.

The result is robust employment opportunities to the point that the industry is filling vacant job slots, lower energy costs and a reversal of the import-export equation regarding energy in this country.

The only blot on the current natural gas landscape is the moratorium on drilling and pipelines in New York State that is keeping companies from exporting natural gas to that state and New England, raising energy costs there.

A couple of decades ago, the nation’s goal was to reduce dependence on or eliminate the need for Mideast oil. That has nearly been achieved, which is good news for consumers and our foreign policy.

But we can’t get there on renewable energy alone. We stand behind development of wind and solar power, but those sources can’t produce the volume of natural gas and nuclear power.

And, despite a propaganda effort to the contrary, those sources can be operated without impacting the environment negatively.

As long as the safety and environmental concerns are kept in the forefront of every drilling operation, let the boom continue.