Five years ago this month, two Penn State professors, whom the Marcellus gas industry had paid to extol the economic benefits of fracking, released their report.
Their paper predicted fracking would create 160,000 jobs in Pennsylvania by 2015 and would be paying 1.3 billion dollars a year in taxes.
Drilling would offer a generational bonanza with wells producing for 40 years while tapping into a 100 year gas reserve.
Today, there are just 20,000 jobs in the gas industry statewide, taxes are a fraction of the prediction, gas wells lose their economic viability in 7 to 10 years, and the gas reserve in the ground is both spotty and considerably less than estimated.
Half the drilling rigs and their workers have already left the state. "We'll be back" they tell the local investors who have spent millions on hotels, barbecue joints and furnished apartments.
This seems unlikely given the experience of the Barnett shale region in Texas, which is a few years more mature and has already lost 80 percent of its drilling rigs and has declining gas production.
Our region has, beyond fracking, solid opportunities and assets but we will have to start working on an economic strategy now to replace the void being created by the departing gas industry.
Submitted by Virtual Newsroom