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Marcellus Shale Basin: Wealth of Natural Gas is Attracting Manufacturers and More Carbon

The Marcellus Shale basin that encompasses a number of states and especially those in the Mid Atlantic region is bringing in new riches — and more pollution. That’s according to the Delaware Riverkeeper Network, which says natural gas production in Pennsylvania will nearly double by 2030 to meet growing demand. That will then triple Pennsylvania’s greenhouse gas emissions compared to what they had been in 2012.

In the Delaware Riverkeeper Network report called “Lifecycle Greenhouse Gas Emissions Associated with Projected Future Marcellus Development,” it says that 1,600 to 2,000 new shale gas wells will need to be constructed each year. That will then serve to double production in the Marcellus basin by 2030, from a 2014 baseline. The report was actually written by PSE’s Energy and Environment Program and a summary of it is here.

As these new wells come on line, climate-impacting emissions from the sector — primarily methane — will increase 50% to 87% over 2014 levels, says the news summary. These emissions are at least three times that of Pennsylvania’s natural gas emissions in 2012, they add.

“A tripling of Marcellus-related greenhouse gas emissions will dramatically increase Pennsylvania’s contribution to the region’s climate impact — it’s an alarming finding in the context of new federal climate goals, which, under the Paris climate agreement, aim for a nationwide reduction of all greenhouse gas emissions to 12% below 2012 levels by 2025,” said report author Renee Santoro, director of PSE’s Energy and Environment Program. “Pennsylvania itself is supposed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from electricity generation by 23% by 2030.”

The Marcellus region is beating its forecasts, which is made possible by the advancement in drilling technologies. In fact, the U.S. Energy Information Administration has said in a report that breaks down productivity levels according to region that the gains in new gas wells are more than offsetting the declines from the existing ones. The Marcellus Shale, it adds, accounts for three-fourths of growth in the nation’s production.

The basin is also producing the equivalent of 2 million barrels of oil a day, which exceeds the oil production of many OPEC countries. The energy agency, meanwhile, says that 2,203 trillion cubic feet of shale gas here is technically recoverable — enough to last 92 years.

Indeed, more than $120 billion in domestic manufacturing investment has been announced and that is expected to create 1 million new jobs by 2035, according to PriceWaterHouseCoopers.

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