"We can finally kick our foreign-oil habit. We can bring our troops home. There will be no strategic value for those wars. If we quit buying oil, we can change global economics and terrorism."
Jim Crews, director of commercial operations for NiSource Gas Transmission & Storage, said, "We also want to increase white-collar jobs."
Crews pointed out that underground natural gas reserves also contain materials used to make plastics.
"Union Carbide scientists here in South Charleston first discovered how to change ethane gas into plastics," he said.
Crews also believes horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing are likely to discover "other shale and unconventional hydrocarbon sources in the [Marcellus Shale] basin, including previously abandoned formations."
West Virginia legislators are considering whether to regulate fracking or not.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is examining the fracking process to determine whether it endangers supplies of drinking water, as many critics argue.
Environmental groups, such as the Natural Resources Defense Council, believe Marcellus Shale drilling could have long-term negative environmental impacts.
Those groups also question the wisdom of the federal Energy Policy Act of 2005 that exempts hydraulic drillers from federal Safe Drinking Water Act regulations, which would have required companies to reveal what chemicals they use.
Last August, the New York Senate voted overwhelmingly to set a nine-month moratorium on Marcellus Shale drilling. That moratorium ends in early May.
Corky DeMarco, director of WVONGA, said Tuesday, "I am happy New York has shut off drilling. That will help West Virginia.
"There is no evidence of contamination of water wells from fracking," Demarco added.
New York's Marcellus Shale reserves lie under the Catskill Mountains and the source of almost all drinking water consumed in New York City.
By 2020, natural gas companies expect to drill about 30,000 underground Marcellus Shale wells across the basin, according to a New York Times article published on July 8, 2010
Many major companies already are involved in financing, exploration and drilling Marcellus Shale wells, the article pointed out, including: Chesapeake Energy, Halliburton, Columbia Natural Resources, Consol Energy, Exxon Mobil Corp. and Royal Dutch Shell.
Reach Paul J. Nyden at pjny...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5164.