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CPBJ Extra Blog

Taking stock: How is Pa. doing at leap to Marcellus 2.0?

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Lines of a story based on my interview earlier this year with then-outgoing Marcellus Shale Coalition CEO Kathryn Klaber have stuck with me as I look ahead to the next chapters of shale gas in Pennsylvania.

Especially for here in the midstate, away from the heart of prime drilling country.

"I think where some of the real benefit comes is if this product continues to be available locally … it's going to be nearly impossible to measure the economic benefit of so much domestic energy. That has benefits down the road that go so far beyond one job category," Klaber said.

The comment followed my question about any kind of push back that might have been occurring in the court of public opinion, particularly the blue collar part of the court waiting on jobs as too many people in this state still qualify as idle capacity.

So I've had my eyes open for what I'll call the Marcellus 2.0 effect: Is the fact that wells are drilled, and gas is tapped, pushing over the next dominoes in line to form positive economic ripples for the state? Or do we still risk missing the biggest waves?

I'll call the view at this point mixed. On one hand, you have the likes of the tenant at the York College business incubator's wet lab working on oil and gas recovery and a project to increase capacity at GEA Refrigeration, also in York County.

But then, I've seen somewhat hesitant tea-leaf reads such as on the fate of a possible Pennsylvania Shell petrochemical facility, a project touted by Gov. Tom Corbett, and a recent project-completion announcement for sending a large volume of Marcellus gas out of the commonwealth.

Hard to tell which way it might go. But it's probably safe to say that fully realized potential is still not a given at this point.

So we probably should be asking, at the very least as a backup plan, what can be the next big thing in Pennsylvania if Marcellus doesn't end up fully filling the need? Or, what can we do with eyes wide open to make sure the benefit is as large as possible?

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