A group of 10 Republican and three Democratic members of Congress from Pennsylvania is calling on the National Economic Council (NEC) to recognize the economic value of the Marcellus Shale to their state and the potential value of shale gas to the nation -- and to leave its regulation to state and local authorities.

"The existence of shale gas in the United States, coupled with the technological achievements that have made its production possible, present a tremendous economic opportunity for our nation," the Pennsylvania delegation said in a letter sent to NEC Director Gene Sperling on Friday. "It is our view that the states are in the best position to regulate the activity, given that the types of fracturing operations, local priorities and environmental concerns vary widely among the regions in which hydraulic fracturing [fracking] is used.

"Nevertheless, as the administration studies the regulatory issues related to shale gas, we urge you to also consider the positive economic impacts shale gas production has had on Pennsylvania and the potential for replicating this success story in other areas of the country."

The Marcellus could contain more than 489 Tcf, the congressmen said, and a recent Pennsylvania State University study found that energy companies plan to invest $12.8 billion in developing the Marcellus this year (see Shale Daily, July 22). In light of such information, they asked, has the NEC or any other agency "undertaken a study on the economic development (e.g., jobs created, tax revenue, etc.) created by shale gas development in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania or any other states with significant shale gas production activities?"

The letter was signed by Republicans Mike Kelly, Bill Shuster, Tim Murphy, Todd Platts, Tom Marino, Charlie Dent, Pat Meehan, Joe Pitts, Mike Fitzpatrick and Lou Barletta, and Democrats Tim Holden, Jason Altmire and Mark Critz.

More than 100 groups representing U.S. industry last month petitioned to keep the federal government from erecting barriers to fracking (see Shale Daily, Sept. 22). State governments, the on-the-ground regulators of oil and gas drilling, are working with industry to ensure that adequate environmental and safety measures are employed, they said.

Former U.S. Senator Byron Dorgan, a Democrat who represented North Dakota in Congress for a decade before retiring earlier this year, recently said the federal government isn't planning a "full court press" on the natural gas industry, but it will if best management practices and state regulations aren't effective (see Shale Daily, Oct. 5).