Drill, baby, drill may become the new catchphrase for the booming Marcellus Shale well developments in the southwest and northern sections of Pennsylvania.
In fact, business is so good that it caused the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency to publicize its Request for Proposals from municipalities for projects that will expand the availability of affordable housing in the Marcellus Shale region.
“We want the RFP to be as flexible as possible in considering ways we can expand the quantity and quality of housing in those communities impacted by the upsurge in natural gas drilling in the state,” said PHFA executive director and CEO Brian A. Hudson Sr. “We understand that different communities will undertake different approaches for addressing their housing needs, including such options as adding more multifamily housing, providing rental assistance, expanding homeownership opportunities, and other development ideas.
“We’re looking for proposals that reflect the needs and wants of the communities they’ll serve.”
The deadline for filing the RFP is Nov. 2.
The Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources reports that there are more than 450 Marcellus Shale wells in 14 counties: Erie, Crawford, Lawrence, Butler, Allegheny, Westmoreland, Washington, Greene, Fayette, Elk, Potter, Lycoming, Bradford and Susquehanna. In a display of just how massive the Marcellus Shale industry is, the American Chemistry Council recently reported Marcellus Shale exploration and well sinking brings 17,000 jobs to Pennsylvania, with wages of $729 million.
The ACC quotes figures stating Pennsylvania is the country’s 10th-largest chemical producing state and creates $24 billion in revenue. What also makes Pennsylvania ideal is its proximity to the United States’ industrial base, and its access to the Great Lakes and major rail systems.
According to the Housing Alliance of Pennsylvania, only applicants who have adopted ordinances authorizing an impact fee for operable unconventional gas wells, or municipalities can apply.
The Pennsylvania Housing Affordability and Rehabilitation Fund will support the Marcellus Shale impact fee. PHARE collected $2.5 million last year, and is estimated to collect up to $5 million over the next few years.
“The end result,” Hudson said, “will be improved housing options suited to the needs of the people who live in those regions affected by the increase in natural gas drilling.”