Philadelphia may be on its way to becoming the next Houston and a group from Southeast PA visited Northeast PA the other to see why and learn how.
Earlier this week I was privileged to be with a group of folks from Chester County, just outside Philadelphia, who came north to Susquehanna County to learn more about how the Pennsylvania natural gas so potentially important to their own economy is produced. The trip was organized by the Chester County Chamber of Commerce with help from the Marcellus Shale Coalition and the participation of Cabot Oil & Gas as well as several suppliers and other interested parties. I presented on the importance of the Marcellus Shale in reviving the rural Northeast, adding a few thoughts on how, as Mike Krancer has suggested, Philadelphia might become the new Houston.
You review my self-explanatory presentation by clicking the slide below:
The real insights, however, came from the group itself, with a number of members asking key questions and realizing the tremendous opportunity shale gas has been for Northeastern Pennsylvania and can be for Southeastern Pennsylvania. Here’s the summation from Chester County Chamber of Commerce President Guy Ciarrocchi:
Could Philadelphia be the Next Houston?
Guy Ciarrocchi, CCCBI President & CEO
This was not the question we posed when we planned our recent trip to NE PA to visit Marcellus Shale sites, study the impact and network with local business leaders. 41 local businesses participated in our recent tour.
But, since CCCBI planned the trip, this has been discussed in national and regional magazines and blogs. Why are some people saying this?
This is a theory–hopefully, a goal–of policy makers, economists and industry analysts studying the current and possible growth from the Marcellus shale industry. As the industry grows, and expands, inevitably, more and more natural gas will come to and through our region. Some will heat our homes; some will run our factories; and, some will go to refineries (Mariner-east, Trainer) and Petro-chemical manufacturing companies (e.g., Braskem) in the refinery hub of Philadelphia.
If this growth model hits its expectations, the only think stopping exponential growth in energy, chemical—and, industries either supplying these businesses, using their products or supporting their employees–is our willingness to embrace this potential growth, plan for it and make the decisions necessary to allow it to happen.
Generations ago, Philadelphia had economic growth periods stemming from manufacturing or refiners, or the ports used to export these goods and import the supplies. We are perfectly positioned to encourage the 21st century equivalent of that type of growth; if we are willing to make the decisions and take the risks necessary for that type of growth.
The gas lies beneath 5 states in our region. And Texas and Louisiana have the pieces for a chemical industry –and ports.
So, the growth…the opportunity…is not inevitable.
Yes, this industry needs to follow best practices. Yes, this industry needs to be good stewards of our air, water and land. Yes, they need to pay their fair share. And, we can all debate what the right balances are. (I, personally, think we have found the right balances, at least for now.)
But, if we do this right, Philadelphia will be the Houston, the Raleigh-Durham, the Phoenix of the 21st century. Our kids will stay here and students going to college here will stay, to work in America’s energy & chemical hub.
We did not go on our tour with that in mind. But, as we came home, that idea seems more than possible. If…
We wish them luck! Pennsylvania has a great future thanks to natural gas development and we want all of Pennsylvania to be part of it.
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