ARC Welcomes New Department of Energy Report on Economic Potential of Region’s Gas and Shale Industries

Report Offers Recommendations for Further Growth in Region’s Advanced Manufacturing Sectors

WASHINGTON, D.C., June 30, 2020—Today, the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) welcomed the release of The Appalachian Energy and Petrochemical Renaissance: An Examination of Economic Progress and Opportunities, a new Department of Energy report on the Region’s growing shale and gas industries.

Drawing on ARC data, research, and investment outcomes, the report examines energy resources found in the Appalachian Region, opportunities and challenges presented by expanded extraction, the importance of the petrochemical industry’s use of natural gas byproducts in production, and steps that can be taken to increase the positive economic impact resulting from these opportunities in the Region. The report offers several recommendations for continued capitalization of these sectors, including:

  • Increased investment in transportation bringing products to the market, including: rail, pipelines, waterways, and highways.
  • Increased private investment in petrochemical industry infrastructure, including ethane cracker plants like the one currently being constructed in Beaver County, Pennsylvania.
  • Continued investment in a highly-trained workforce, proficient in the needs of today’s high-tech manufacturing industry.
  • Development of tax and regulatory policies supporting an energy-friendly business environment.
  • Continued regional leadership toward innovation across the energy, petrochemical, and manufacturing sectors.

“Appalachian energy resources are among the most plentiful in the world, and the region stands poised to continue its growth as an energy producer and an important contributor to the world petrochemical market,” said ARC Federal Co-Chairman Tim Thomas. “The critical policy priorities and strategic investments outlined in this report will be important to the continued energy independence of our nation and the economic development of the Appalachian Region.”

The report focuses on the economic potential of the Utica and Marcellus Shale formations which stretch across parts of Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Ohio, and Kentucky. These formations are the country’s largest basin and number one producing region on low-cost natural gas and high quality metallurgical and high-T thermal coal. Petrochemical manufacturing currently in development in the Region are projected to attract between $16-20 billion in capital investment, and create more than 9,800 jobs directly and indirectly in Appalachia by 2025.

“The sheer magnitude of the shale gas revolution in Appalachia is illustrated by the fact that 85 percent of the growth in the United States natural gas production over the past decade has occurred in Northern to Central Appalachia,” the report notes.

The report cites several ARC reports relevant to the Region’s shale and gas industry including the Status of the Appalachian Development Highway System, the Industrial Make-Up of the Appalachian Region and An Economic Analysis of the Appalachian Coal Industry Ecosystem. The report also highlights ARC investments in the Tristate Energy and Advanced Manufacturing (TEAM) Consortium, a network of nearly 50 community colleges and educational institutions, industry representation, local economic development leaders, and investment partners from across Marcellus-Utica region providing credentialed education and training for jobs in Appalachia’s energy and manufacturing sectors as an example of successful workforce development initiatives that could be brought to scale.

About the Appalachian Regional Commission
The Appalachian Regional Commission is an economic development agency of the federal government and 13 state governments focusing on 420 counties across the Appalachian Region. ARC’s mission is to innovate, partner, and invest to build community capacity and strengthen economic growth in Appalachia to help the Region achieve socioeconomic parity with the nation.