WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. - Best known as the site of the annual Little League World Series, this north-central Pennsylvania town is becoming a focal point for America€™s emerging national energy rush, with 100 companies having moved to town and six new hotels recently built, USA Today reports.
The hope is that more towns like Williamsport will emerge, with domestic oil and natural gas discoveries providing favorable economic benefits for the U.S. economy for many years to come, eventually leading to energy independence.
"[Energy independence] is no pipe dream," writes USA Today, with the U.S. already the world€™s fastest-growing oil and natural gas producer.
Accordingly, the U.S. Energy Information Agency predicts U.S. oil imports will decrease 20% by 2025, while BP projects the U.S. will derive 94% of its energy domestically by 2030.
The economic impact is promising, with energy independence translating to 3.6 million new jobs, according to Citigroup.
The energy boom has been traced to a 12-year old gas-drilling technology called hydraulic fracking, which began uncovering gas but has been adapted to drill for oil. At least half-dozen or more drilling sites in the United States are now being developed.
Domestic natural gas is unlikely to lead to real energy independence any time soon, at least until more cars run on electricity or natural gas.
In the meantime, new energy production is creating jobs across the country. North Dakota, now the country€™s fourth-largest oil producing state, has a miniscule 3% unemployment rate, the nation€™s lowest. In Williamsport, the economy grew 7.8% in 2010, making it one of the nation€™s fastest-growing metro areas.
The increased energy production has led to spinoff industries. Shell, for instance, announced plans to build a cracking plant, which will produce chemicals from natural gas, a venture that is expected to produce 10,000 construction jobs.