Recently, Salena Zito authored a piece in the New York Post, “Pennsylvania town saved by fracking fears Biden will kill its prosperity,” which profiles the town of Canonsburg in Washington County. As a result of the discovery of Marcellus Shale in Western Pennsylvania, local businesses in the area have thrived and experienced a trickle-down effect from the natural resources in the Keystone State.
In the story, Zito highlights how in 2003, an energy company known as Range Resources experimented with horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing – commonly known as “fracking” – which ultimately attracted multiple oil and gas producers to the region. Thanks to this energy renaissance, towns like Canonsburg have flourished with golf courses, new homes and fortune 500 companies.
Jeff Kotula, president of the Washington County Chamber of Commerce, speaks to the positive economic impact of fracking. Kotula states, “In 2008 is when it really started to turn up. Over 20,000 people work here every day, thousands also live, golf or stay at the hotels.” His words are supported by an American Petroleum Institute study cited in the piece, which details how the oil and gas industry contributes $34.7 billion to Pennsylvania’s economy, with the more than 1,347 businesses spread across the entire state. If fracking is banned in the Pennsylvania, 600,000 jobs would be at stake, while the state’s GDP would take a $261 billion dollar hit, according to a report from the US Chamber of Commerce.
Rodney Wilson, vice president of business development at the energy company, CNX in Canonsburg, argues that fracking actually helps the environment, while natural gas is a clean-burning fuel that reduces our country’s reliance on coal. Wilson says, “The statistics speak pretty clearly. If you look at Pennsylvania, in the past 12 years that natural gas was on the grid,” and grew to compromise more than one-third of the energy supply, “CO2 intensity has been reduced by 39 percent in the state.”
The positive benefits the natural gas boom has provided Pennsylvania are expansive, but these benefits cannot come to fruition without the needed pipeline infrastructure that gets these energy products to end-users safely. Pennsylvania is still lacks the adequate infrastructure to support full production in the Marcellus Shale. Zito’s piece highlights how far we have come, but there is still more work to do.