Pennsylvania's oil and gas industry is a sure thing in a time of economic uncertainty. That's according to Katie Klaber, Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Economy League of Southwestern Pennsylvania. A new study by her group says oil and gas companies contribute $7.1 billion annually to Pennsylvania's economy. The industry employs 26,000 people, and the average annual salary for those jobs is $63,000. Oil and gas companies also pay more than $200 million annually to Pennsylvania landowners in the form of lease agreements and royalties.
The number of new oil and gas wells in Pennsylvania tripled between 2000 and 2007. In the last several months, there's also been renewed interest in the state's Marcellus Shale formation as a source of natural gas. Klaber says it's too soon to say how that might affect the state's economy. But she says the state could miss out on an opportunity if regulations and tax laws discourage companies from expanding their operations. She says the state should be working to encourage business while also addressing concerns about the environment.