Harlan Shober to speak at shale event at Duke University

March 30, 2014

Harlan Shober was recruited by Duke, but not for his basketball skills.

The Washington County commissioner, instead, is in Durham, N.C., today to talk about the economic impacts of Marcellus Shale in Southwestern Pennsylvania. Shober will give a 20-minute presentation, accompanied by 20 slides, during a workshop at Duke University.

The workshop is part of the Shale Public Finance project overseen by Dr. Daniel Raimi, an associate in research at the school.

According to the website, sites.duke.edu/shalepublicfinance, the project “seeks to identify the key public finance issues facing local governments experiencing this new oil and natural gas development.” It is chronicling experiences of local governments nationwide.

The Duke University Energy Initiative oversees the project, which is supported by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.

“Daniel went around the country last year and talked about Washington County,” Shober said. “They went to where gas play is in effect and came to me. They asked me to fly down and talk about what we’re doing.”

Shober said he is the only county resident participating in this workshop, and believes he is the only one from Southwestern Pennsylvania.

The invitation was long before Mercer lost to Duke in the NCAA tournament, helping to wreck Shober’s bracket sheet. But he likely would have gone under any circumstances, considering his lengthy shale experiences in the midst of a local energy boom.

“I will talk about natural gas coming in 2007 and where it is in 2014” in this region,” Shober said.

He was a 16-year commissioner in Chartiers Township, where he said in 2007 “we were the second township in the county to explore gas wells, after Mount Pleasant.”

Shober, who has a lease with Range Resources on his Meadow Lands property, said shale energy has benefits – provided it is accessed safely,

“I think it’s something that’s important to the area, as long as there is a balanced approach. You have to be ecologically safe, but this means a lot to the economy.”

Rick Shrum joined the Observer-Reporter as a reporter in 2012, after serving as a section editor, sports reporter and copy editor at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Rick has won seven individual writing awards, including two Golden Quills.

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