The natural gas industry is poised to offer an opportunity for economic resurgence in Appalachia, according to Reuters. During the past four decades the coal workforce decreased by 90 percent and the majority of steel mills have closed. Last week Chesapeake Energy signed an agreement with GE to develop the necessary infrastructure to accelerate the use of natural gas as a nationwide transportation fuel, according to the corporation's website.
Here are some facts about Appalachia and the natural gas industry.
* The American Chemistry Council estimates the natural gas industry will create 12,000 jobs in the multistate Appalachian region, according to the organization's website. Ethylene, which is used to make a variety of plastics, is expected to bolster manufacturing in Appalachia.
* Reuters reports Royal Dutch Shell is in the process of natural gas exploration and the building of a $2 million chemical plant in the Appalachian region. Royal Dutch Shell's plants will convert ethane into ethylene to make clothing, packaging materials and cushions.
* Shell's sustainability report published on the company's website notes an awareness of "fragile ecosystems" and expressed desire to work with local and regional communities to address environmental concerns. The company's stated conservation efforts include the rerouting of pipelines and making adjustments due to seismic activity.
* Small business and personal income in Appalachia is approximately 25 percent lower than the rest of the nation, Reuters reports.
* Chesapeake Energy and Caimen Energy have hired hundreds of natural gas workers in Appalachia in anticipation of increased shell drilling, according to Reuters.
* The Intelligencer reports the second-largest known Marcellus Shale formation in the world stretches through West Virginia into the northern Appalachian Basin, reaching as far as New York and Pennsylvania. Caimen believes the Appalachian shale formation is the largest gas-producing region in America.
* The American Chemistry Council reports Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia are competing for another Royal Dutch Shell plant that is planned for the northern region of Appalachia. All three states are offering tax incentives to bolster their attractiveness before the company makes a location decision on March 31.
* Aither Chemical is developing a presence in Appalachia. A $750 million ethylene producing plants is in the works, according to the company's website.
* Plumbers and Steamfitters Union Local 83 Business Manager Jeff Beresford told Reuters that Royal Dutch Shell asked if he could provide 1,000 pipe fitters to help build the new plants. Beresford also responded that he could provide 2,000 trained pipe fitters in need of work within 48 hours.