Rural Susquehanna County, Pennsylvania, is my home and I treasure it deeply. With a population of only 42,000, the county sits atop one of the world’s most prolific natural gas formations – the Marcellus Shale. Cabot Oil & Gas has invested billions of dollars here to develop this extraordinary resource. Astoundingly, production from my county alone could supply the entire needs of France. Cabot has been here over a decade and I am intimately familiar with the effects of the industry.
Therefore it is disheartening, and frankly, tiresome to hear folks distort the truth about the industry. Recent nonsense on YouTube by the so-called “Tri-County Landowners Coalition” is a case in point.
In the video, a series of “community organizers” dryly read a list of horrors should Cabot be allowed entry. They claim natural gas development would destroy the rural character of the area, contaminate water supplies, damage roads, discourage tourism and harm property values. Moreover, methane was touted as a carcinogen although every person and animal is full of this “natural” gas.
None of these claims are true and we have ten years of reality in Susquehanna County to prove it. The area is still happily rural, our air and water are clean, our roads are better, tourism is flourishing and property values remain elevated.
For years Cabot held an annual picnic and the last one had a turnout of 9,000 appreciative neighbors along with two protesters. Part of this appreciation may be due to the $1.5 billion Cabot has paid to local landowners in the from of lease bonuses and royalties on production – production that will continue for decades. To put this in perspective, $1.5 billion works out on average to $36,000 for each county inhabitant.
The reality is that Cabot and others in Susquehanna County have:
- Created hundreds of new local jobs, lowering the unemployment rate to 4.7%
- Stimulated growth of new and existing manufacturing and service businesses
- Saved numerous family farms essential to our rural character
- Substantially increased local wages
- Paid millions of dollars in impact fees to local government leading to lower property taxes
- Rebuilt hundreds of miles of local roads to better-than-ever condition
- Helped build a brand new state-of-the-art hospital and library
- Endowed a new local technical college with graduates placed in good industry jobs
- Extended new natural gas service to local communities, schools, government buildings and businesses – largely displacing more expensive and dirtier fuel oil
- Spurred construction of new senior housing
- Supported emergency services, multiple charities and natural disaster relief
Increased truck traffic is the main downside. However, it is not all that bad and the many benefits certainly outweigh this negative.
The Tri-County group has a scattershot list of objections. Perhaps the umbrella concern may be the degradation of their area’s rural character. Before Cabot came, Susquehanna County was dying. The gas industry resurrected it. Our area remains verdant as ever, but with renewed homes, barns, farms and businesses. Most importantly, there is now local economic opportunity for our young. I invite anyone from Tri-County to visit for an in-depth personal tour. With an open mind, you may be surprised to see first-hand how the gas industry has sustained our rural way of life.