Distribution progress gas industry’s key to future in state

The natural gas drilling boom of eight or nine years ago, when 111 rigs were drilling into the earth of this region for Marcellus Shale deposits, is not about to return to our region. That’s an economic reality.

But the industry is producing natural gas at a fairly robust rate these days and the industry is going through an era of “cautious optimism,” according to David J. Spigelmyer, president of the Marcellus Shale Coalition.

But the real key to the industry’s future in the region – both for the companies and consumers – lies in infrastructure development.

According to Spigelmyer, there is plenty of natural gas product to market, but the pipeline infrastructure to move it to other areas is not completely in place.

In fact, it’s lagging behind and companies are having to store excess gas.

That keeps the price low for local consumers but discourages companies from coming to the state to drill.

And when companies have to use alternative methods to transport products, consumers pick up the brunt of the added cost.

The Atlantic Sunrise project, which is planned to connect Northeast Pennsylvania with Southern states, will be an important advance for the industry.

But similar development to the north and New England is being blocked by New York State’s continued moratorium against natural gas drilling and development.

In our view, the New York State moratorium is a hollow cause.

The natural gas industry is under strict environmental regulations, making it among the cleanest ways to harvest energy.

Add in the technological advances of the past decade, and it is getting cleaner every day. That is necessary.

And it is happening.

New York State is behind the curve and penalizing consumers throughout the Northeast with its denial of the environmentally friendly program the industry has made.

The industry is productive, its presence keeps natural gas prices relatively low for local consumers, the impact fees it pays fund infrastructure and other important local projects and it receives no state funding to do its business.

Pennsylvania could do a lot worse for an industry that is one of its most important economic calling cards.


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