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W.Va. should welcome Marcellus shale action

The Wall Street Journal wrote tellingly Tuesday of the differences between two other Marcellus shale states, Pennsylvania and New York, which it called "a case study in one state embracing economic opportunity, while the other has let environmental politics trump development."

In short, Pennsylvania "set up a regulatory framework to encourage and monitor natural gas drilling. In New York state, green activists "raised fears about the drilling technique known as hydraulic fracturing and convinced politicians to enact what is effectively a moratorium."

West Virginians should be aware of the economic

results of such decisions.

In Pennsylvania, more than 2,000 wells have been drilled since 2008, and gas production rose from

5 billion cubic feet in 2007 to 81 bcf in 2009.

According to a study by University of Wyoming professor Timothy Considine for the Manhattan Institute, the economic benefits of a typical Marcellus well include:

n 62 jobs

n $2.8 million in direct economic benefits from gas company purchases, $1.2 million in indirect benefits from companies in the supply chain, $1.5 million

from workers spending wages or landowners spending royalty payments, and

n $2 million in federal, state and local taxes.

Pennsylvania's Department of Labor and Industry

reports that Marcellus drilling:

n Has created 72,000 jobs,

n That the average wage is about $73,000, and

n That 857 oil and gas companies paid $238 million in taxes in the first quarter of this year — $20 million more than the total for 2010.

"And all of this with no evidence of significant environmental harm," the Journal said.

"Then there's New York."

Indeed. People in Broome County, N.Y., can look across their border with Pennsylvania and see the benefits they are not getting because of economically suicidal state policy.

West Virginians love their lush green state, and their concerns about its environment are understandable.

But given Pennsylvania's experience — no evidence of significant environmental harm — state residents should weigh the alarmists' warnings carefully.

West Virginians do not love being 49th in per capita income, and they have a chance to change that.


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