Gas Industry Has A Great Story to Retell and It Must Be Retold Often!

Tom Shepstone
Shepstone Management Company, Inc.

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The natural gas industry has accomplished so very much, delivering economic and environmental benefits everywhere, but it must be retold.

We talk a lot about how to keep the gas industry moving forward in a COVID economy, including the importance of legislation aimed at attracting new businesses to the Commonwealth, but we began to notice a persistent back story in the dialog. As much as we know that we have the ability to produce the feedstock for petrochemical production while also supplying much of the nation with natural gas, there will always be people who would stop fossil fuel production in its tracks without understanding the adverse economic impacts here and the global environmental impacts if we lose our grip on production to non-regulated nations.

gas industry

Rep. Jonathan Fritz (Susquehanna/Wayne) is one of many to agree that our nation needs a diverse energy portfolio that includes solar, wind, hydroelectric and coal- and gas-fired electrical generation. “We cannot have a world without fossil fuels,” Jonathan maintains, favoring an ‘all of the above’ approach. “But we are dealing with people on the other side of this who are not reasonable.” Proponents of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) are pushing for Pennsylvania to fall into lock step with 10 other states that assess fees on carbon dioxide emissions with the promise that the funds will be invested in renewable energy resources.

For one thing, we know that science is on our side and that our successes at environmental protection are the envy of other states. It was incumbent upon us to show off our operations to others, including other companies and regulators. As we developed a better understanding that Pennsylvania’s landscape and geology required a new approach, we had an opinion as operators that we needed to move quickly to set a new standard.

“We’ve had very measurable progress, with environmental compliance at 98.3% in 2019,” said Patrick Henderson, current director of Regulatory Affairs for the Marcellus Shale Commission (MSC). “We have cleaner air, and there are significant health benefits derived from air quality improvement. We’re proud as an industry.”

So, why the constant push back? Why don’t we get the credit we deserve? Did we assume that people were reading the reports from DEP, DCNR and other agencies that confirmed our progress and that we could just keep improving without fanfare?

“There were regulations, but more often than not we were getting ahead of them,” Kathryn Klaber, former head of the MSC explained. “But we weren’t always getting the best treatment from the media.” “We need to rebuild a pipeline of minds between those in decision making positions. A lot of them have an environmental bent that is against industry. It is very critical that we bring about that change in culture,” Rep. Fritz reminded us. “This is not an industrial wasteland. It is pristine, beautiful and bucolic. We have some of the best hunting in the world, and the gas industry supports that.”

We’ve made tremendous strides in the industry, and we have to continuously put it out there, or it looks like we are not moving forward. It is time to retell our story.

That’s why some of us are celebrating World Shale Energy Day on St. Patrick’s Day, March 17, 2021. That might seem strange until you think about the fact shale is as green as it comes when we’re talking emissions reductions and open space protection, because nothing reduces emissions more than switching from other major fuel sources to natural gas and nothing whatsoever can generate so much return from land with so little disturbance. It cleans the air and saves farms and forestland.

gas industry

Cash prizes for the top three submissions to NaturalGasNOW!

We plan to post 10 guest pieces celebrating natural gas and shale energy that day, illustrating the “Transformational Benefits of Organic-Rich Black Shale.” Sign up now to be part of it! We’re looking for posts of approximately 300-500 words telling your story of how shale energy lifted up you, your family and your community. If you’d prefer not to write, send us a shale energy piece of art, photo, poem or song you have created. We’ll pay up to $100 for the top three submissions. Contact me here! All entries must be submitted by March 15.

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4 thoughts on “Gas Industry Has A Great Story to Retell and It Must Be Retold Often!

  1. Susquehanna County continues to be impoverished despite your tales of economic
    benefits from gas industry.

    See latest news article in our county paper,
    The Independent, front page,
    the Alice Report , put out by United Way.

    Over 50% of our county households struggling financially and in poverty since 2010 and not just because of Covid.

    See map and summary at http://www.uwp.org/alice

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  2. There’s a saying (those that don’t watch the news are uniformed, those that watch the news are misinformed) obviously most Americans don’t know what powers our electric grid otherwise people out in california and Washington wouldn’t be pushing to ban natural gas appliances in place of electric, I’d guess anyone that is correctly informed would know a gas water heater in your home is probably more efficient then using gas to heat water at a much higher temp at a power plant to generate electricity that’ll run through several transformers over hundreds of miles to an electric water heater at your house. Does the wind always blow between 5 and 8 pm when electric is at its highest demand? Just wait till 2030 when there will be 135 million electric cars that people will need to charge after work, mostly at night, which is
    the equivalent of adding 60 million more households to the electric grid, sorry solar.

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