Local government officials and community members are invited
to a free Sept. 26 seminar and tour being planned by the Washington &
Jefferson College Center for Energy Policy and Management that will focus on
parks projects funded in part with natural gas revenue. The seminar will be held in the ballroom at the Rossin Campus Center beginning at 10 a.m. CEPM Director Corey Young will give an overview of Act 13, the Pennsylvania law that provides impact fee money to municipalities. Lisa Cessna, executive director of the Washington County Planning Commission, will then talk about some projects the county has completed in its parks and at its fairgrounds using Act 13 revenue and royalty payments from park land leased for gas drilling. Jodi Noble, Chartiers Township manager, will give a
presentation on parks projects that municipality has accomplished using Act 13
and royalty revenue, and Adam Mattis, regional advisor for the Department of
Natural Resources and Conservation, will give a quick rundown on state grant
programs available for such projects, and how Act 13 money can be leveraged.
West Virginia is pushing natural gas. The former coal giant
has shifted its focus from its legacy in the mines to the shale play,
diversifying its economic mix and creating jobs. West Virginia is home to both the Marcellus and deeper Utica
shale basins, with an estimated 28 trillion cubic feet of shale gas reserves,
the fourth largest of any state in the country. For the state that has stumbled
in its response to the fall of coal, these reserves present a new opportunity,
and it has capitalized. With thousands of wells drilled and hundreds more permitted annually, the state has grown its natural gas industry in quantifiable ways.
Staff of the Shale Gas Knowledge Hub traveled to Waynesburg
University in Greene County, Pa., to attend the launch event for the county’s
new marketing and branding plan. The event included several speakers from
county government, the energy industry, and the team tasked with the
rebranding. The theme of energy was present in all of the speakers’
presentations throughout the evening. Greene has dubbed itself “A Powerful Place,
Perfectly Placed” which alludes to the rich history of the energy industry in
the county. Representatives from Consol Energy spoke of the longstanding coal
legacy in the county, the future of Consol in the region, and the progress
being made in toward renewable energy with natural gas as the bridging
Gov. Tom Wolf has made Pennsylvania’s energy industry a key
focus of his administration. However, while some plans proposed by the governor
have been met with praise, others have caused contention. Wolf campaigned on several environmental and energy issues
in both of his runs for office. He promised to harness the natural gas and oil
industry in the state, and ensure that Pennsylvania’s public lands would be
protected. He has delivered on parts of these promises, like his 2015
moratorium on leasing public lands to oil and gas drillers.
Franklin & Marshall College’s Center for Opinion
Research has released
the results for their August 2019 poll. The poll grades citizens of
Pennsylvania’s attitudes on several current issues, including prospective state
policies. This poll asked citizens about their opinions on Gov. Tom Wolf’s
Restore PA policy proposal and yielded interesting results. Gov. Wolf’s Restore PA proposes $4.5 billion in
infrastructure incentives that will be paid for with a new severance tax on
natural gas extraction. The $4.5 billion would be borrowed, and paid off over a
20-year period with severance tax revenues.
For the third consecutive year, Washington & Jefferson College (W&J) hosted a group of German students participating in a language and cultural exchange program organized by the German-American Fulbright Commission. The prestigious program is held at two universities in the United States each summer, and the 2019 hosts were W&J and Virginia Tech. Participants at W&J stayed on campus for three weeks and took courses offered by W&J faculty. Corey Young, Director of W&J’s Center for Energy Policy and Management, the host department for the Shale Gas Knowledge Hub, led a seminar for students titled “The Urban Turnaround: The Transition from Smokestacks to Sustainable Industries”. In that course, students learned about Pittsburgh’s steel heritage, the collapse of the steel industry, and the City’s efforts to reinvent and revitalize the region.
Shale development in Pennsylvania is moving downstream. With
upstream operations now a functioning constant in the Commonwealth, natural gas
companies and investors have set their sights on downstream opportunities. Shale gas developments are categorized by three
classifications: upstream, midstream, and downstream. Gas extraction and any
operations at the well site are considered upstream, midstream covers pipeline
transfer of gas, and downstream encompasses the final use of the raw natural
gas. While upstream and midstream operations are generally limited to gas
extraction and transfer, downstream operations cover a broad spectrum of
Natural gas companies are looking for better, more efficient ways to transport and dispose of contaminated wastewater used in the hydraulic fracturing process. Other shale basins across the United States have employed the use of a pipeline system to transport wastewater to other wells or treatment facilities rather than trucking it to reduce costs and community impacts. Major natural gas companies in Pennsylvania are following suit, though major questions linger about their monitoring to ensure there are no leaks.
The most abundant source of natural gas is not located in shale formations, but rather, in the depth of our oceans. Natural gas hydrates have the potential to power the United States’ increasing demand for electricity in the future if methods of harvesting them are created.