CEA-Mid Atlantic Executive Director Mike Butler makes the case why Pennsylvania Democrats should ask their party leaders to turn back a proposed moratorium adopted this past June as part of its party plank.

Patriot News Opinion Page: 

Much to our dismay, the Pennsylvania Democratic State Committee recently voted 115-81 for a moratorium on hydraulic fracturing to retrieve shale gas.
By Mike Butler

Last year when former President Bill Clinton was traveling through Pennsylvania while on the campaign trail, he spoke to a large crowd in Western Pennsylvania about the economy and some of the bright spots in Pennsylvania’s future. He stated, “In a growing economy, you need to start by counting your blessings.” And, with specific reference to positive shale gas production in the Marcellus and the new cracker facility planned for Beaver County – he once again repeated to the crowd, “We must count our blessings.”

In a time when the unemployment rate around the nation seems to be stagnant and companies are not hiring as many workers, many Pennsylvanians are counting their blessings for the shale gas industry providing thousands of indirect and direct jobs in the construction industry and beyond down the supply chain.

At Consumer Energy Alliance’s Pennsylvania Energy & Manufacturing Summit, James Kunz from the International Operating Engineers, Local 66, stated that they very close to full employment – with much of it attributable to the Marcellus Shale. He also mentioned how these employment opportunities came to his members at the right time. If it weren’t for this “blessing,” they “would have faced double-digit unemployment because of only being able to depend on the building construction and the heavy road and bridge construction in Pennsylvania and parts of Ohio.”

With Pennsylvania being blessed with large amounts of gas – and wet gas that can be processed into ethylene – we are also now blessed with new manufacturing facilities. And this valuable energy resource continues to lure new companies that are dependent on low energy costs to the U.S. – and to Pennsylvania — bringing more job opportunities and economic growth to our region and nation.

Positive economic news has been seen across the state. In 2011, Washington County had the third highest employment surge of any county in the nation. In Philadelphia, the Aker shipyard is rehiring 800 workers to help build two new tankers in response to domestic oil and gas production. Right now almost a quarter-million people in Pennsylvania work to produce natural gas from the Marcellus Shale or in related industries. Even better, job growth projections in Pennsylvania over the next ten years exceed the projected national average.