Gov. Tom Corbett said Monday in a visit to Titusville — where the oil industry started a little more than 150 years ago — that “we can make Pennsylvania the energy capital of the country,” adding, even “the world.”
Such efforts, he said, could make the county “energy independent of the Mid-East.”
Speaking at a brief press conference following a train ride from Petroleum Center in Oil City, Corbett was talking about gas drilling in the state, including the Marcellus Shale drilling.
The gas-rich Marcellus and Utica Shale regions extend through New York, Pennsylvania, Maryland, West Virginia, Ohio and portions of Kentucky and Tennessee. They are important geologic formations because they hold large reserves of oil and natural gas.
While Marcellus Shale is at a depth of about 5,000 feet, the Utica Shale is significantly deeper, at about 7,000 to 8,000 feet. Many drilling operations have already begun working in Pennsylvania, including one site in Crawford County, which has more of a prevalence of the Utica Shale formation.
After his 13-mile kayak trip that began early in the day in the Tidioute area, Corbett hopped aboard the Oil City & Titusville Railroad for a mid-afternoon journey from the Oil City area to Titusville. He said the train ride allowed him and others to see the “living monument to the people who had ideas, took risks” and had a lot of “faith in the vision of people.” He spoke briefly about the discovery of oil and that people in the Titusville area were the first to drill for oil. He referenced them as “shooting the well,” referring to how the men would drill a hole, insert chemicals and a blasting cap and then “go like the devil,” referring to how they ran to escape injury.
The drilling now starting in the state “can bring new jobs,” he said, adding it can make the state “energy-independent,” but stressed that we need “to protect our environment” at the same time.
“Preserving our natural resources and our cultural heritage for generations to come is critical to the growth of our commonwealth,” Corbett said in a prepared statement. “Not only do they support a high quality of life for our residents, but they support the continued success of Pennsylvania’s tourism industry.”
He made reference to state parks he visited in the Oil Region, noting that state parks often have important connections to Pennsylvania history and culture and are more popular than ever as an affordable destination with outdoor recreation operations.
Statewide, these parks generate more than $1 billion in economic activity in their nearby communities and support 13,000 related jobs, he said.
Every dollar the state invests in the parks generates $12 in local economic activity, the governor added, which helps communities prosper and maintain jobs.
“Oil Creek State Park, with its still-working wells, bears witness to the energy and innovation of our people.”
Asked about concerns between an “impact fee” or a severance fee for the drilling industry, the governor said the gas-drilling industry will pay additional taxes as it generates more revenue. He said the impact fee will stay in the areas of the drill sites to make certain they benefit the locations that are impacted.
Corbett was joined by his wife and three state legislators, Rep. Scott Hutchinson, Rep. Brad Roae and Sen. Bob Robbins on the tour. Asked what he may have seen that he may want the Legislature to consider, the governor said nothing definite. However, he did note the area of the railroad line would be perfect for a western movie and he remarked about film credits available for filming in the state.
'Drop' in to see Drake Well's new exhibit
A new exhibit, “There’s a Drop of Oil and Gas in Your Life Every Day,” will open to the public Aug. 25 from noon to 5 p.m. at Drake Well Museum and Park.
The Commonwealth Capital Project at the museum allowed the building to be renovated, a new “permanent” exhibit developed, and provision of the state-of-the-art historic collection to begin. A glass lobby was added to the building’s façade, a new geothermal-powered heating and air conditioning system was installed, and the new exhibit designed.
Drake Well Museum will use its rich collection, exhibits of working machinery and historical buildings, and extensive research library and photographic collection to increase visitor awareness of the dependence on petroleum and how it evolved.
The exhibit also addresses contemporary concerns about environmental and economic impacts industrial technology, the need for conservation and choosing alternative energy sources.
The capital project funding of $6.75 million was released in 2007, and $900,600 was raised by individual donors and charitable foundations to support the new orientation theater. Additional funds were provided by the Pennsylvania Historical Museum Commission.