Shale Energy Industry Community Impact

Great opportunities often present great responsibility. Commercialization of shale gas presents a great responsibility for economic development professionals and civic leaders. Without effective planning there is a risk the community could experience an exhilarating boom period followed by a destructive bust.

Planning to ensure the community economy is stronger when the shale gas drilling is over than it was when the drilling started, is absolutely key to sustainable success.

One of the best ways to plan is to benchmark and learn from the experience of others. While no two communities will face exactly the same challenges, nor will solutions executed successfully in one community necessarily work in another. But, experience often helps provide perspective and it can help bring focus to the planning exercise.

Case Studies

Here are a few case studies that share the experience other communities have had with shale gas commercialization. They offer important insight, and collectively help make the case for the importance of planning to ensure a successful economic outcome.

The Fort Worth Texas Experience (PDF – large file)

The Sublette County Wyoming Experience (PDF – large file)

Bradford and Washington Counties Pennsylvania Experience (PDF – large file)

Energy Boomtown Paper (PDF – large file)

Educational Resources

The Challenge

To quote Zig Ziglar, “You must plan to win, prepare to win and expect to win”. Commercialization of shale gas is transformational for a community. Effective planning is key to ensure the transformation is positive. While effective planning for something as complex as the emergence of a new industry is difficult, it can certainly be done. Committing to making the creation of a 10 – 15 year strategic plan a priority for community leaders is undoubtedly challenging. Actually creating, implementing and updating such a plan may feel impossible. But, it is a necessary and important challenge to guide a community to sustainable economic vitality and avoid the boom-to-bust cycle that can happen without proactive guidance.

Here are some posts that may help you think about how to approach the planning challenge.

What is Your Experience?

Share your thoughts and experience by writing a comment. By sharing, you help others learn and be better prepared to ensure shale gas commercialization is a positive catalyzing experience for their community.

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Category Leadership, Shale Gas

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6 Comments so far

  1. Dean Barber

    June 22, 2011

    Ed, I would suggest that shale gas is a good thing, a largely untapped resource, but that the safety issue of fracking is also very real, at least in some places. Some industry execs refuse to admit that.
    I cannot help but think of a loose translation of the Hippocratic Oath — the first thing is to do no harm. No one should have ignitable tap water coming into their home because of nearby fracking.
    So there are responsiblities in terms of safety and environment.
    But shale gas could be a huge boon for our country in terms of energy independence if I am correctly reading the current literature on this subject.

  2. Mark Barbash

    June 26, 2011

    The New York Times this morning reports on concerns raised about shale gas expressed by insiders, the Fed, and experts in the field. The suggestion is that the estimates of capacity are inflated, the life of wells is shorter than projected, and the environmental issues are as yet unquantified.

    The article cites Fort Worth and suggests that the Fort Worth profile included above tells only one side of the story.

    Ed, all of the reinforces your comment at the top of the blog, which could be shortened to “Take Informed Risk.”

  3. Ed Burghard

    June 26, 2011

    Here is a recent opinion article from the Wall Street Journal that helps separate fear from facts about fracking. Like the NY Times article, this is worth a read.

  4. Barry Gula

    June 29, 2011

    I’ve had experience with environmentally challenged sites for commercial and residential development as well as experience with introducing new affordable and subsidized housing into a community. Doing your homework is the best advise I can give. Don’t underestimate or discount those that want to oppose the development. They likely have some real concerns that you need to address. Not familiar with the jurisdictional authorities/regulators you will be encountering but plan for a long process.

  5. Midge

    July 6, 2011

    Big help, big help. And superlatvie news of course.

  6. Mark Barbash

    August 3, 2011

    The WSJ posted a story yesterday about the difficulty in measuring the job creation impact of marcellus shale activity that’s worth a read. To be truthful, measuring the direct impact of almost every type of development endeavor has challenges in a complex economy. As we work throuigh this opportunity, it should make us mindful of paying attention to the benchmarks and performance measuremenets as we consider making public investment in marcellus shale activity.

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