The development of energy resources such as wood, coal, oil and natural gas has influenced much of Pennsylvania’s landscape.  Repeated timbering of the forests for fuel, tanbark and lumber over the past 300 years has restricted old growth forests to small patches, often on steep, nearly inaccessible, slopes.  While many of Pennsylvania’s forests are recovering with better management in the past 100 years, extraction of other resources like oil, gas, and coal also impact the landscape.  Past coal mining practices have left a legacy of scarred landscapes and polluted waterways in many of the coal regions of the state.  Current natural gas development of the Marcellus and Utica Shale presents another challenge for Pennsylvania as development will require new infrastructure across much the rural areas of western and northern Pennsylvania, risking further fragmentation and disturbance on a recovering landscape.  In order to minimize impacts to Pennsylvania’s living natural resources, the future development of energy resources will require planning and care to avoid the mistakes of the past.

Energy in Pennsylvania

  • Wind

    In recent years, wind has become one of the country's fastest growing sources of renewable energy. Pennsylvania is host to several wind turbine manufacturing plants and corporate headquarters, making it a leader in the industry.

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  • Coal

    The bituminous and coke coal industries were responsible for the late nineteenth century industrial growth of western Pennsylvania. Today, the state accounts for approximately 6.5 percent of total U.S. coal production.

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  • Natural Gas

    The Appalachian Basin region contains one of the largest natural gas reserves in the world. The Marcellus Shale and Utica Shale formations underlie an estimated two-thirds of Pennsylvania, and the recent development of deep natural gas reserves in shale formations is changing the landscape of the region.

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  • Oil

    The American oil industry began in 1859 along the banks of Oil Creek in Venango County, Pennsylvania when Edwin Drake drilled the first well specifically for oil. Pennsylvania now produces little crude oil.

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