WV Natural Gas Industry Already Employs 35K People with Average Salaries of $60K

The Independent Oil and Gas Association of West Virginia has just kicked off a new advertising campaign to educate the public to the benefits of natural gas drilling in the state.

The Just Beneath the Surface alliance aims to tout the industry’s economic contributions while addressing concerns over the methods used to tap the Marcellus. The campaign features a website, promotional ads and other means to spread its message.

"Historically, we’ve kept a low profile but with the advent of Marcellus shale, we felt compelled to make more of a name and show more pride in what we do in West Virginia," said Michael McCown, president of the Independent Oil and Gas Association of West Virginia.*

The new campaign addresses concerns about hydraulic fracturing and other environmental impacts, but also touts the economic benefits. McCown makes the point that the natural gas industry in West Virginia already provides a significant economic boost to the state, and it will only grow as Marcellus Shale drilling expands in the state.

The economic benefits [currently] include 35,000 industry-related jobs, with average annual salaries of more than $60,000 for those directly employed, McCown said. He estimated that the industry pumps $757 million annually into the state economy through wages plus another $771 million in capital investments last year. All but two of West Virginia’s 55 counties host natural gas operations, which provide $177 million in severance and property taxes annually, McCown said.*

*Charleston Daily Mail (May 25, 2011) – Natural gas industry launches W.Va. support bid