Sitting atop the prolific Marcellus and Utica shale plays, Pennsylvania is a natural gas production powerhouse – thanks to responsible production using modern hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling. The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) reports that the two plays provided 85 percent of U.S. shale gas production growth since the start of 2012, reflecting the blossoming production from shale and other tight-rock formations through safe fracking. Those plays stretch into other states as well. But much of the reserves are in Pennsylvania, which in 2015 was second only to Texas in marketed natural gas production (more than 4.7 billion cubic feet). And that has meant good news for the state.
Continued support for natural gas and energy infrastructure is critical for Pennsylvania.
The need to continue to safely and responsibly develop and utilize American-produced energy has never been more important. In Pennsylvania, nothing could be more critical to the commonwealth, its residents and its business community. Additional pipeline infrastructure is the key to helping Pennsylvania fulfill the promise of its energy economy. Today, the greatest challenge in Pennsylvania’s natural gas industry is the lack of necessary pipeline infrastructure to connect gas production with other markets across America. It is estimated that 25 to 30 percent of the wells drilled to date still do not have pipeline takeaway capacity.
Pipeline infrastructure does more than just get gas to the community.
Much needed pipeline infrastructure doesn’t just help Pennsylvania natural gas get to market and the residential and business community; it also helps counties and townships through the impact fee. The PA Independent Fiscal Office published an Impact Fee Update and 2016 Outlook, where it recognized the decline in impact tax revenues, paid by natural gas producers, due to several factors including fewer wells being drilled. The outlook also points to inadequate pipeline infrastructure as a reason for declining impact tax revenues. According to the 2016 IFO Outlook, if additional infrastructure is brought online, the drilling of new wells could increase. And, if so, impact fee collections would rise accordingly, per the report, helping communities across Pennsylvania.
The development of the Marcellus and Utica Shales and connecting natural gas to energy markets is a long-term proposition. With these pipelines, Pennsylvania can help power America for generations to come. This is a smart, forward-looking strategy that recognizes the important contribution pipelines and natural gas will make to continue the reduction in carbon emissions. The benefits of the U.S. energy renaissance through the onset of large quantities of clean and affordable natural gas are clear, and carbon emissions from power generation are at their lowest levels in nearly 20 years. Pennsylvania is leading the way in boosting our nation’s access to reliable energy sources and reducing our reliance on foreign energy sources.