It is now unanimous: America's potential domestic energy production is off the charts and Pennsylvania is the sweet spot.
The International Energy Agency just issued its landmark annual World Energy Outlook report, forecasting that the United States will pass Saudi Arabia in energy production and that North America will be at the forefront of a sweeping transformation in oil and gas production that will affect the entire world.
This comes on the heels of recent reports from Standard & Poor's and ITG showing that the amount of recoverable gas in the Marcellus Shale play may be much greater than any previous government estimate.
This is good news. With Pennsylvania as the centerpiece, real American energy security and a real force in American job growth are available to us right now -- if we continue to make the right decisions to obtain and use what we have right here.
The studies confirm that Pennsylvania's Marcellus Shale formation is the global superstar of natural gas formations and is a key driver in true American energy independence. Marcellus shale gas will help make Pennsylvania the energy capital of the nation and spark the rebirth of our petrochemical and manufacturing base.
Production from Marcellus wells is exceeding expectations, and some of the wells are among the most productive in the world. We already have 240,000 jobs related to our oil and natural gas extraction activities. When it comes to production numbers, Standard & Poor's own words confirm that this is a "mere drop in the bucket" of the Marcellus' full potential.
These reports also say that the potential natural gas liquids recoverable from the Marcellus are proportionally higher than any other shale gas formation. This is terrific news for Pennsylvania, validating Royal Dutch Shell's announcement that it is exploring the construction of an ethane cracker facility in Beaver County, a project that would account for 10,000 jobs in the construction phase alone.
Also reported is a dramatic and historic change in the direction of natural gas flows in America.
Flows have always been from the west or southwest United States to the east. Not anymore. Pennsylvania became a natural gas exporter in 2010 and is perfectly located to be the supplier to the tremendous growth markets of the northeastern United States.
This new energy revolution is also being seen in Philadelphia.
Refineries that were just recently pronounced dead have new life -- in no small part because of hydraulically fractured, domestic oil and natural gas. The result is thousands of jobs and cleaner air from the use of natural gas and lower sulfur domestic Bakken crude oil at the refineries.
Pennsylvania oversees this development responsibly under its effective oversight and comprehensive set of laws and regulations. Through Act 13, Gov. Tom Corbett and the Legislature have not only enhanced environmental protection standards but also put in place a per-well impact fee, with an initial distribution of $204 million to Pennsylvania municipalities and commonwealth agencies.
From encouraging wastewater recycling to one of the most progressive hydraulic fracturing fluid disclosure laws in the nation, the state's oil and gas program assures responsible, protective development of natural gas. Pennsylvania has more than doubled its number of oil and gas inspectors, and they have conducted more than 20,000 inspections just this year.
Every Pennsylvanian is already benefiting from Marcellus Shale. We are only at the beginning of building Pennsylvania into the energy center of the world and the jobs center of the country. American energy independence is at hand, and Pennsylvania is leading the way.
-- Mike Krancer is secre tary of the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection.