Thursday, August 09, 2012

Pittsburgh Economic Boom And Marcellus Shale

Big Energy would like to take credit for the Pittsburgh boom. An inconvenient truth is that the City bans the drilling process hydraulic fracturing. PA Governor Tom Corbett would have you believe that any such zoning restriction would torpedo the development of shale gas within the state. Marcellus Shale Coalition president Kathryn Klaber went so far as to claim the ban was a matter of national security. Fact is the rush is a sideshow for Pittsburgh and its remarkable turnaround. Eds and meds deserve the lion's share of the credit:

By the end of March, jobs in the Pittsburgh region’s gas industry had almost quintupled to 437 from 93 in the first quarter of 2009, according to state Labor and Industry Department data. Within the seven-county metro area, employment had climbed 4.1 percent, or 46,000 jobs, in the past two years, Wells Fargo economists led by Jay Bryson said in a [March report].

Much of the gain was in health care and education, which accounted for 30 percent of the added jobs and 20 percent of all payroll positions in the region, the economists said. Yet 5 percent of the growth was driven by shale drilling, they said.

Shale drilling is a boon to the region and the City of Pittsburgh. But the concerns raised about the ban, like the hyperbolic employment windfall from hydraulic fracturing, are hogwash. Pennsylvania does not need the local zoning preemption provided for in Act 13. The Pittsburgh rebound preceded the Marcellus Shale boom. Furthermore, the glut of natural gas occurred without the benefit of Act 13. With or without Act 13, the Marcellus Shale is projected to be the number one play in the United States. The governor has no clothes.

Pittsburgh is a thorn in sides of Corbett and Klaber. The energy industry would love to point to the region, with its run of positive publicity, and say, "We did that." No, you didn't build that.

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