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Friday, July 26, 2013

Baker Testifies Before Congressional Field Hearing on Economic Impact of Natural Gas Production in Bradford, Tioga Counties

Baker Testifies Before Congressional Field Hearing on Economic Impact of Natural Gas Production in Bradford, Tioga Counties
7/26/2013

State Rep. Matt Baker
WILLIAMSPORT – State Rep. Matt Baker (Bradford/Tioga) today testified before the Congressional Natural Gas Caucus during a field hearing in Williamsport to discuss the economic impacts of natural gas production in the Marcellus Shale region.

“I was honored to be asked to present testimony to the caucus,” said Baker. “As a member representing the most productive natural gas drilling legislative district in the state, I have seen firsthand the economic revitalization throughout our region due to expansion of the industry – from a housing boom to record-low unemployment and infrastructure improvements. If we are able to continue to grow the natural gas industry in a responsible manner with strict regulatory oversight, the Northern Tier, and in fact all of Pennsylvania, will benefit.”

During the hearing, Baker highlighted the financial impact natural gas drilling has had on both Bradford and Tioga counties, which went from a few permits and wells in 2009 to now being the largest natural gas field in the country. Pennsylvania natural gas production in 2012 accounted for supplying gas to 11 percent of the 65 million gas households in the United States.

Baker pointed out that landowners in Bradford and Tioga counties have received a total of more than $550.6 million in royalty payments from January 2008 through December 2012. Total lifetime royalty payments for wells permitted as of July 13 are estimated to amount to $7.6 billion for local landowners. It is also worth noting that these figures do not even include amounts of signing bonuses.

Under a new law enacted in 2012, which Baker supported and helped lead floor debate for passage, impact fees are now imposed on natural gas companies drilling in the Commonwealth with 60 percent of the fees going to counties and local governments and 40 percent going to the state.

The state’s portion is to be used for emergency response planning, training and other activities; water, storm water, and sewer system construction and repair; infrastructure maintenance and repair; as well as statewide environmental initiatives.

Baker testified that during the past two years combined (2011-12) millions of dollars were paid to both local counties and municipalities. Bradford County received at total of $15.7 million, with another 23.4 million going to Bradford County local municipalities. Tioga County received in the last two years a combined $9.1 million, with an additional $13.6 million going back to Tioga County local municipalities. This brings total impact fees to date for the last two years for both county and municipal disbursement amounts to $39.2 million for Bradford County and $22.7 million for Tioga County.

Counties and municipalities have the option to use the funds to address a variety of drilling impacts, including preservation and reclamation of water supplies; improvements to local roads and bridges; construction and repair of water and sewer systems; delivery of social services including domestic relations and drug and alcohol treatment; local tax reduction; local affordable housing needs; assistance for county conservation districts; as well as emergency preparedness and flood plain management.

“Funding from the impact fees is essential to making sure any impacts to infrastructure or the environment due to the natural gas industry or other factors are able to be addressed,” said Baker. “The amount of funding received under the program has exceeded expectations and has been a great help to our local communities.”

Through his extensive research on the natural gas industry impacts in the region, Baker also took note that unemployment in the area has reached record-lows and that his area has a lower unemployment rate than the rest of the state due to natural gas production and its ancillary industries. In fact, from 2006 to 2012, employment in the Northern Tier region has increased by 265.6 percent, according to the Center for Workforce Analysis.

“Employees working both directly within the natural gas drilling industry and those working in ancillary industries are earning family-sustaining wages and benefits,” said Baker. “For an area of the Commonwealth that has struggled with job growth opportunities in the past, this is a welcome change.”

To bring a single Marcellus well on line requires approximately 420 individuals across 150 different occupations, including engineers, geologists, attorneys, inspectors, truck drivers, heavy equipment operators, general labor, welders and many more.

“Not only have jobs become available in drilling, manufacturing, construction and trucking that one would typically associate with the industry but, due to increased populations, jobs in the health care, retail and restaurant sectors have also grown,” said Baker. “It has truly been a trickle-down effect that has benefitted everyone.

“Of course, as we are still in the somewhat early stages of Marcellus Shale exploration, I look forward to continuing to monitor the progress of the industry and its effect on our local and regional communities, as well as its impact on our national domestic energy supplies,” concluded Baker.

Also offering testimony with Baker at the hearing were Erick Coolidge, Tioga County commissioner; Jeff Wheeland, Lycoming County commissioner; Mike Flanagan, Clinton County Economic Partnership; Vince Matteo, Lycoming County Chamber of Commerce; John Augustine, Marcellus Shale Coalition; Brent Fish, Fish Realty; Seth Alberts, Alberts Spray Solutions; and Bobby Keen, Ultra Pipeline.

The Congressional Natural Gas Caucus is a bipartisan group of more than 80 members of Congress. Its primary mission is to educate members of Congress and the American people about the importance of natural gas as a domestic energy resource, its role in meeting the nation’s energy demand and in attaining energy security.

To view a copy of Baker’s entire congressional presentation, go to www.RepBaker.com.

1 comment :

Anonymous said...

Keep polishing that turd Matt....