7.1: Promise and History
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Understanding the Context
Extractive industries and northern Pennsylvania are uniquely intertwined. The harvesting of natural resources–oil, timber and coal–have had a tremendous influence in this region. These industries have shaped the landscape and, inevitably, the culture and history of the places where they operated. Therefore, when attempting to understand the potential influence of a new extractive industry, such as the natural gas industry in the Marcellus Shale region, it is important to also understand the context in which it exists. This requires an understanding and appreciation of the culture of the places where extraction is taking place, and an understanding of the impacts of similar industries in the past.
Culture and Place
The Marcellus Shale underlies a large portion of the northeastern United States. This area has many unique places, each with a special history. This historical timeline focuses on the northern portion of Pennsylvania, where the culture and place have had a close connection to extractive industries in the past.
The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania has many valuable natural resources, and for this reason it has been the hub of extractive industries in the northeastern United States. This timeline looks at the booms, busts and sustained exploitation of the extractive industries that have had a significant role in the Commonwealth.
When the world first heard about the potential gas reserves held in the Marcellus Shale deposit, the promise of gas development swept through Pennsylvania. A number of potential positive developments were coupled to the opening of this resource, including:
- Lease and royalty payments for landowners
- Jobs in gas industry support and suppliers
- Reduced reliance on farming for income
- New development in an economically challenged area
- Contribution to national energy independence
The promise of gas development was also met with an equal measure of concern, mostly focused on the potential negative environmental and social impacts of gas development, including:
- Water contamination
- Runoff and erosion
- Habitat destruction
While this is a new resource to Pennsylvania, there is a long history of resource extraction in Pennsylvania, which was met with equal measures of promise and likely concerns when first introduced.
Please review the Historical Chart on the Marcellus by Design website.
Specific Promise in Pennsylvania:
The Marcellus Gas deposit offered Pennsylvania an incredibly important resource at a particularly challenging economic time in Pennsylvania’s history.