HARRISBURG, Pa. - The Marcellus Shale Coalition picked its second president to represent the high-profile group of companies that are active in Pennsylvania's booming natural gas industry.
David Spigelmyer, a former Chesapeake Energy executive and Marcellus Shale Coalition chairman, was tapped by the executive board of the approximately 300-member coalition, the group said Monday.
The coalition formed in 2008 as interest began spreading in the Marcellus Shale, which lies deep underneath parts of Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia and New York and is thought by geologists to be the nation's largest-known natural gas reservoir. The group includes Chevron, Shell and Range Resources.
Kathryn Klaber, Spigelmyer's predecessor, worked her last day at the coalition on Friday. She had announced over the summer that she was leaving her position.
Spigelmyer, 53, arrives after natural gas production from the Marcellus Shale has changed the face of energy in Pennsylvania, if not the United States, but at a time when the industry still faces challenges.
The coalition is aggressively criticizing Democratic gubernatorial candidates who are proposing to raise taxes on the industry. The state's high court also is considering a challenge to an industry-favored law that limits the ability of municipalities to control drilling activity. Also, drilling is shut down in an area of northeastern Pennsylvania where water is regulated by the Delaware River Basin Commission.
Spigelmyer said he will not shy away from taking on top public officials, such as gubernatorial candidates, over their stance on natural gas.
``I'm going to do whatever it takes to help my members be successful and invest capital in Pennsylvania,'' Spigelmyer said.
The industry is still a whipping boy for some environmental groups opposed to hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, the technique that drillers use to siphon gas from shale deposits underground, and some residents and public officials maintain that drilling and industry impact has ruined their health, water or livelihood.
Asked if he would have done anything differently, Spigelmyer said he thinks the group has engaged the public from the beginning and must continue to spread its message of economic good that does not compromise environmental protection.
``Those in public office, most of them get it,'' Spigelmyer said. ``They're watching the fact that we're growing jobs and economic opportunity. You don't have to make a false choice. Our opponents are out there pitting our industry against the environment. We can do this right.''
When the group formed five years ago, Pennsylvania produced 198 billion cubic feet of natural gas, according to government estimates. Bentek, a Colorado company that analyzes energy trends, estimated recently that Pennsylvania's production from the Marcellus Shale was on track to hit 3.2 trillion cubic feet this year.