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Setting Stage for Energy Renaissance in Our Region

Posted By Shawn Bennett, David Spigelmyer, Kevin Ellis, Monday, September 19, 2016
Updated: Tuesday, September 20, 2016

As we anxiously approach the Shale Insight conference this week, let us take a look at what Shale has done for our region. The following letter to the editor was published in the Wheeling News-Register by Shawn Bennett, David Spigelmyer and Kevin Ellis, leaders of their respective organizations; Ohio Oil and Gas Association, Marcellus Shale Coalition, and West Virginia Oil and Natural Gas Association. Visit ShaleInsight.com to learn more about this regional partnership. 

Our region is blessed with an abundance of natural resources that have supported America’s energy needs for generations. Appalachia-produced raw materials helped usher in and ignite America’s Industrial Revolution, power the United States to victory in World War II, and provide good-paying, family sustaining jobs for hundreds of thousands of local citizens.

Today, America continues to rely on Appalachia’s abundant energy reserves to power our modern 21st century economy. Thanks to our domestic energy revolution — led by record natural gas production right here in the tri-state region — our nation is more energy secure than ever, allowing us to break free from reliance on foreign, often hostile nations to meet our growing energy needs. These uniquely American achievements are well worth celebrating.

Recognizing that shale’s opportunity — and challenges — have no borders, the Ohio Oil and Gas Association and West Virginia Oil and Natural Gas Association are joining with the Marcellus Shale Coalition to host the 6th annual Shale Insight conference to foster greater regional dialogue, discussion and unity in our shared goal of advancing shale development throughout the Appalachian Basin.

Some of these regional themes reflect the clear fact that shale development continues to support good-paying jobs, promote small business growth opportunities, generate energy savings for hard-working Americans and their families, strengthen our region’s environment, and spark a regional manufacturing revival.

In fact, Shell’s commitment to building a world-class petrochemical facility in Beaver County, Pa. — a $6 billion to $7 billion investment — is truly representative of shale’s broad benefits. Representing the largest investment made in Pennsylvania since World War II, this single project will have a significant and positive impact on our region’s economy as it’s expected to create 6,000 construction jobs — including many for our region’s building trade union members — and 600 permanent jobs once the facility is complete.

What’s more, this facility is expected to encourage additional manufacturing investments throughout the Appalachian Basin as manufacturers look to the tristate area to capitalize on our local energy advantage.

This inspiring American story of manufacturing’s comeback is the crown jewel of natural gas development as our region has the competitive edge for new, job-creating investment. That’s one of many reasons why a 2015 Harvard Business School report concluded shale represents the “single largest opportunity to improve (the) trajectory of U.S. economy.”

Indeed, thanks to natural gas, we don’t have to choose between economic growth and improved air quality. We can have both as the greater use and development of clean-burning natural gas has driven America’s carbon emissions to 24-year lows and enabled the U.S. to reduce its emissions more than any other nation.

But to fully realize shale’s economic and environmental benefits, natural gas infrastructure modernization and expansion is mission critical. A strong, reliable infrastructure network will connect consumers, manufacturers and power generators with our abundant, affordable energy resources. And to be sure, pipelines are the absolute safest and most effective way to transport natural gas.

From unleashing a manufacturing renaissance, to creating and supporting hundreds of thousands of jobs, and expanding our natural gas infrastructure network, shale’s benefits — and the challenges our industry faces — extend beyond state boundaries.

Of course, for our region to capitalize on shale’s economic and environmental opportunity, lawmakers throughout Pennsylvania, Ohio, and West Virginia need to get the energy equation right with pro-growth policies that encourage job-creating investment, greater production, and, importantly, end-use opportunities for natural gas, especially among our power generators and manufacturers.

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