Panel discussion at Mon Valley Hospital to address Marcellus shale industry | TribLIVE

Harlan Shober was a Chartiers supervisor when Marellus shale gas drilling was first being introduced to Washington County.

“We were the second township in Washington County to see wells drilled,” said Shober.

Now a Washington County commissioner, Shober has seen the impact of the industry on the county’s economy.

Shober will be one of three members of a panel discussion to be held during a luncheon meeting of the Mon Valley Regional Chamber of Commerce, 11:45 a.m. to 1 p.m. Tuesday in the Anthony Lombardi Conference Center at Monongahela Valley Hospital.

The subject of the discussion will be, “What You Should Know About the Marcellus Shale Industry before Nov. 4.”

Cost is $16 for members, $20 for non-members.

Reservations are available on-line at the chamber’s website at www.mvrchamber.org and also by calling the Chamber office at 724-483-3507.

Jim Protin, vice president of business development for Chester Engineers, will serve as the moderator for the event.

Protin said Chester Engineers works with the major producer firms in the Marcellus shale industry. That work includes designing pump stations, pipelines for water resource and supply, well pads and high-pressure gas lines.

“Marcellus shale’s present and future are both very bright,” Protin said. “Presently, the industry has done some amazing things. It’s created jobs and a supply chain that goes well beyond engineering.

“This is a 50- to 75-year play. We’ve only scratched the surface.”

Approved in 2012, Pennsylvania’s Act 13 placed a so-called “impact fee” on every well drilled for gas in the Marcellus shale formation.

“I think the impact fee has worked well,” Protin said. “It has channeled funds where there are local and county needs.”

“Act 13 is really something that’s benefitted the county and local communities, bringing money back to do some things,” added Shober. “That money is going into roads. They wouldn’t have that money to spend without Act 13.”

Shober said all 67 municipalities in Washington County receive some impact fee funds.

Shober said Act 13 revenues are just a part of the economic equation for the county. Land owners have leased land to drillers.

“Farms that were for sale that could not be farmed are now being farmed, so we’re saving green space,” Shober said. “As far as the local economy goes, people are buying tractors, equipment, etc. There’s at trickle down affect.”

Shober said dealerships are selling more trucks, and restaurants and hotels are crowded because people are coming in from out of the area to work in the industry.

Shober said he recently attended a seminar at Duke University, where the impact fee’s effects were discussed.

But Shober and Protin believe if the state enacts a severance tax, little of that money would go to local communities. Those fees would be controlled by the state, Protin said.

Travis Windle, spokesman for the Marcellus Shale Coalition, said the shale impact fee tax has already generated more than $630 million in new revenue statewide.

“While we are very confident that we can continue to build upon the positive progress described above for decades to come, common-sense policies that encourage investment into the commonwealth will be crucial to maximizing these shared benefits,” Windle said. “New energy taxes will without question make Pennsylvania a less competitive state to invest and work. Our leaders should focus on efforts that will help foster even more job growth across the region rather than new energy taxes.

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