In Washington County, we say the “power to prosper is right under our feet.” This saying, in reference to our county’s prominence in the energy industry, is easily demonstrated with the amount of energy activity that continues to produce positive impacts in our region.

Since the discovery of the Marcellus Shale Play, the county has attracted countless energy producers and midstream companies, along with the vendors that support the industry. In addition to this investment, the natural gas industry brings jobs, creates small business opportunities, and encourages more people to move into our area. It has had a significant financial impact on our local community.

According to the most recent data from the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission, Washington County received the largest share of more than $146 million that was collected from natural gas producers across the state in impact fees, also known as Act 13 funds. The county itself collected nearly $4.5 million – the most among Pennsylvania’s 67 counties – and our local municipalities received more than $7.7 million. Together, this $12.2 million in impact fees ranks first overall among counties in Pennsylvania. Washington County also led the state in the number of wells with 1,892.

However, for all the economic activity and jobs the natural gas industry creates, our power to prosper is limited by our ability to drive that energy to the market where consumers and businesses can harness the full advantages of this low-cost, plentiful resource. It provides no benefit if we cannot get the resource to consumers and to do that, we need pipelines to deliver our energy.

A modern pipeline infrastructure is crucial, not only for the continued development of the energy industry, but also to maintain the quality of life we expect in the United States. In fact, last year alone natural gas accounted for 34% of the nation’s total energy usage, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. The energy transported by the 2.6 million miles of pipeline in our country affects almost every aspect of our lives – heating and cooling our homes, manufacturing goods, powering our economy, and assuring our global security.

And as demand grows, we need to continue to support the production of natural gas in our state. However, it is equally important that we encourage the development of the pipeline infrastructure necessary to deliver it to the market safely. The Consumer Energy Alliance reports that 99.99% of all petroleum and natural gas products are transported through pipelines safely, and pipelines are nearly five times safer than moving the same volume the same distance by rail. Pipelines have safety technologies to quickly stop accidents if they occur, and operators spend over $2.2 billion annually to ensure pipeline safety.

In our region, natural gas has been an economic driver for our county and country for nearly two decades. It has attracted new investment and jobs as well as produced countless benefits for consumers and business through lower energy prices and costs savings. But production is only one component of our energy portfolio. Building a modern energy infrastructure will complete the connection between Washington County’s resources and our nation’s energy independence.

Jeff Kotula is president of the Washington County Chamber of Commerce.

See what people are talking about at The Community Table!

Thank you for reading!

Please log in, or sign up for a new account and purchase a subscription to read or post comments.