PSU news by
Penn State's student blog

Topics

About

Drill Baby Drill, But Do it Right

“Amazing,” “exciting, “energy independence,” “clean energy,” “economic growth” were all buzz words thrown around yesterday at the 2010 Marcellus Summit held at the Penn Stater and sponsored by Penn State University. The Marcellus Shale, by some accounts, has enough natural gas to supply the USA for 100 years, make the USA less reliant on foreign oil, decrease our reliance on dirty carbon-based sources like oil and coal and rejuvenate rural communities in PA.

That is quite a tall prospect, and the sentiment at the conference was one of harmony amongst all stake-holders, which might allow this amazing and exciting prospect to come to fruition.

The Marcellus Shale is a large deposit of natural gas located throughout PA, excluding the Harrisburg and Philly areas. Explained simply, companies drill down about 7,000 feet, and then go horizontal for about a mile, ‘frack’ or dislodge the gas deposits through small explosive charges, pump in high pressure sand and water, and voilà, out comes natural gas. Centre County ranks 8th in number of permits issued state-wide, with just 108 permits. This compares markedly with Bradford County, which is top in the state, with 859 drilling permits.

There is tremendous potential for economic growth, with the creation of thousands of jobs not just for engineers, but for diverse groups like lawyers and finance associates. There is the risk though that the state government would impose an oppressive tax on gas extraction. John Felmy, the Chief Economist for the American Petroleum Institute, characterized this as an “extreme negative,”  in light of PA’s high corporate income tax and capital stock and franchise tax.

Nonetheless, he noted that businesses do want to pay their fair share. PSU students would have the potential for improved employment prospects post-graduation, internship opportunities and research funding if this industry is not crippled from the beginning. Terry Pegula, who recently donated $88 million dollars to PSU, made his money in natural gas extraction.

There is some concern, which according to Congressman Tim Murphy is based on “misinformation campaigns… and pseudoscience,”  that the fracking process could be hazordous to the water supply, as exemplified by the recent documentary Gasland. However, Scott Perry of the PA Department of Environmental Protection does not anticipate any problems with the water supply, stating in a recent article in Vanity Fair “there has never been any evidence of fracking ever causing direct contamination of fresh groundwater in Pennsylvania or anywhere else.” Nonetheless, there have been rare accidents, exemplified by the travails of of Dimock, PA.

Given a holistic evaluation, it would seem that natural gas drilling is less risky to the environment than other energy extraction methods, including deep water drilling; incidents tend to be very localized, with well-contained damage, according to Gregory Staple of the American Clean Skies Foundation. Another concern is that local infrastructure, mainly roads, will not be properly maintained in response to the damage caused by increased truck traffic; PA already has 6,000 structurally deficient bridges.

While some may view the natural gas industry as “rapacious and irresponsible” as suggested rhetorically in a video shown at the conference, this is probably the best opportunity PA has for economic growth. As with any burgeoning industry, there will be some growing pains, but these can and must be mitigated.

About the Author

Comments

More by Alex

Huntin’ Season: A Cautionary Note

If you are like many Penn State students, some aspects of the rural lifestyle, like shoefly pie or The Prairie Home Companion, are foreign to you. The start of deer hunting season is for many a day of importance just behind Christmas. Employers offer the day off; students have a temporary reprieve from the drudgery of school.

A Labor of Love: An Interview with Mimi Barash

Run for the Financial Hills

Athletics

Max Sauve Commits To Penn State Hockey

Sauve originally committed to Vermont in 2015, but flipped to Penn State at the eleventh hour and will join the Nittany Lions next season.

Penn State Women’s Volleyball Releases 2018 Schedule

Penn State Hoops Alumnus Joonas Suotamo’s Journey To Becoming Chewbacca Featured On ESPN’s ‘E:60’

Evaluating Tony Carr’s Performance At The 2018 NBA Draft Combine

Penn State Hockey Commit Evan Bell Wins Clark Cup With USHL’s Fargo Force

Student Life

10 Questions With 2019 Class Gift Director Tom Beeby

Tom Beeby will serve as the 2019 Class Gift Executive Director.

Career Services To Launch Integrated Career Management & Recruiting Platform

Penn State Esports Wins Tespa Collegiate Hearthstone Championship

Plans Submitted For New KFC In State College

Developers have submitted preliminary land development plans to build a new KFC restaurant at 1780 S. Atherton St. in State College.

Penn State Names Guadagnino Vice President For Administration

Guadagnino will continue to provide legal advice as associate general counsel in addition to his duties as vice president.

As Disciplinary Hearing Opens, Expert Says Baldwin Failed To Properly Represent Ex-Penn State Administrators

A Pennsylvania Disciplinary Board hearing began on Tuesday in Pittsburgh for former Penn State general counsel Cynthia Baldwin, who is accused of violating rules of professional conduct in her representation of former university administrators during the Jerry Sandusky investigation.

Be the first to know

  • Top posts and the best Penn State stories

Thank you for subscribing.

Something went wrong.

10 Questions With 2019 Class Gift Director Tom Beeby

Tom Beeby will serve as the 2019 Class Gift Executive Director.

Send this to a friend