This morning I had the opportunity to speak at the 3rd Marcellus Shale Gas Environmental Summit in Pittsburgh, where much of the discussion centered around shale gas development and job creation. The event offered yet another reminder of an unmistakable fact that many state lawmakers have grasped but some in the U.S. Congress and the media have yet to admit: The innovative combination of hydraulic fracturing and other drilling technologies pioneered by the U.S. oil and gas industry now enables us to tap an enormous domestic energy resource in a safe and environmentally responsible way.
The political pandering to the “Super Committee” on deficit reduction has kicked into high gear, and it’s not surprising that the U.S. oil and natural gas industry is first on the hit list for some seeking to score easy political points. Some members of both the House and Senate recently sent letters to the committee asking to eliminate what they’ve falsely labeled as “oil subsidies for the five largest, most profitable private oil companies in the world.” But such misinformation campaigns are only a symptom of a much larger and more disturbing problem: the short-sighted nature of proposed “solutions” for the U.S. deficit.
No doubt much of the discussion about shale gas production has been focused on the United States, especially on the positive economic benefits associated with the industry – a story just this weekend, for example, detailed how new college programs and training courses are preparing students for careers in the growing natural gas industry. But the shale gas story is increasingly global, as are the benefits.
Right on the heels of recent misplaced criticism about how the oil and natural gas industry counts the jobs it helps support comes a report from NPR detailing the multiplier effect of the shale gas industry in Ohio and Pennsylvania. The story highlights the resurgence of the steel industry due to rising shale gas production – an example I mentioned in my blog post earlier this week. But it also delves into the jobs created because of greater investment in steel production.