Pittsburgh Experiences Shale-driven Rejuvenation

Brian Hicks

Written By Brian Hicks

Posted August 13, 2012

Pittsburgh is booming with newfound growth in its education and health sectors, and the biggest contribution here comes from the natural gas industry.

Pittsburgh has a ban in place on the Marcellus shale drilling operations. But fracking has been going on all around it, and that’s brought a lot of jobs and expansion to the city.

Bloomberg reports:

“Like eds and meds, like steel once was in Pittsburgh, it would be the industry to grow and employ people and turn the economy around,” Mayor Luke Ravenstahl, 32, said of gas extraction.

After staring complete bankruptcy in the face back in 2003, Pittsburgh has found new life through the neighboring fracking operations. In fact, Governor Tom Corbett has offered Royal Dutch Shell Plc $1.65 billion in tax credits to develop a gas-powered chemical plant.

Fracking and other non-conventional oil and natural gas projects have proved very rewarding. Countrywide, such operations are expected to generate $3.2 trillion in new investment before 2035, and more than 2.4 million people could be employed by the sector, Bloomberg reports.

Although Pittsburgh has attended to expanding its medical and educational sectors, residents and officials find the greatest promise lies in the Marcellus and Utica shale gas operations. The city’s population experienced its first increase since 1950 in 2011, when the population rose close to 307,500.

By March of this year, Pittsburgh’s gas sector jobs shot up to 473 from just 93 in early 2009. In the seven-county metropolitan area, employment actually rose by around 4 percent, adding 46,000 jobs. 30 percent of these were in education and healthcare, but at least 5 percent was due to the shale boom.

Despite all the benefits Pittsburgh has reaped from the Marcellus operations, almost 70 percent of locals find fracking a controversial if not outright dangerous prospect. The city has taken a long time to mitigate long-term damage from coal operations, which adds to its disfavor for fracking.

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