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Pa. gov.: Critics of drilling downplay benefits

Published: Thu, November 14, 2013 @ 5:50 p.m.

PITTSBURGH (AP) — Gov. Tom Corbett told an oil and gas industry conference today that opponents of drilling are trying to downplay clear evidence that the shale-gas boom is helping Pennsylvania’s economy.

Corbett said drilling opponents suggest that the 20,000 or 30,000 jobs generated directly by the industry “really don’t mean so much” and that there aren’t many additional jobs beyond those.

Corbett launched his re-election campaign last week, and one online ad claimed that the Marcellus Shale natural gas industry supports more than 200,000 jobs in Pennsylvania. Some economists said that number was too high.

Former President George W. Bush also addressed the conference during a lunch session, but it was closed to reporters.

In his speech to about 1,500, Corbett modified his language slightly, saying that the 200,000 number includes people who were “made more prosperous” by the boom in shale drilling that began about five years ago.

The Marcellus Shale extends under large parts of Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Ohio and New York, and now some of the western regions are also beginning to produce oil from another formation, the Utica Shale.

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