Just when you thought the Marcellus Shale and hydraulic fracturing debate was leveling off, a Washington think tank has come up with 6 billion new reasons that are sure to push the debate to higher levels.

That's $6 billion, which represents the tax revenues for local, state and federal governments that would be generated over the next decade if the formation is fully developed in the states it runs under -- primarily West Virginia, Pennsylvania and New York. In addition, the study predicts that 280,000 new jobs would be created across the three-state region that can be directly linked to developing the play.

This latest study, "The Economic Impacts of Marcellus Shale: Implications for New York, Pennsylvania and West Virginia," was released last week by the American Petroleum Institute. It presents a dollar-and-cents look at the growing natural gas industry in each of the three states. It pays virtually no attention to the environmental issues that are fueling the debate in New York, but what would one expect from a group representing the energy industry?

However, the numbers they offer are eye-popping -- 280,000 new jobs, a $24 million total economic benefit to the three states through business-to-business spending, lease and royalty payments to landowners and wages paid.


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