Suncor Energy / via Flickr

The recent announcement by Shell Chemical, that it plans to build an ethane cracker near Pittsburgh, figures to be a huge boon for the economy in Western Pennsylvania.

An ethane cracker processes ethane from natural gas operations into ethylene for making plastics.

The new plant is a multi-billion dollar investment, and the governors of Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia all lobbied to bring it to their states.

New York's shared border with Pennsylvania makes it seem logical that the new plant in western Pennsylvania would add to demand for natural gas from New York.

But it won't.

A natural gas drilling boom in Pennsylvania is helping the economies of Rust Belt cities long accustomed to bad news. Drilling requires steel — lots of it — and that has manufacturers expanding and hiring new workers.

While much attention has been paid to the environmental risks of drilling into the Marcellus Shale, the economic benefits have been less prominent in the national discussion. But in Youngstown, Ohio, locals have been watching an old industry come back to life.

Emma Jacobs / WRVO

The front line of the controversial expansion of natural gas drilling isn’t a meadow in Pennsylvania or New York.

That’s where landowners meet with landmen - the fleet of salesmen that gas companies use to convince landowners to sign drilling leases.

mikes rite / via Flickr

In case you missed it, This American Life producer Sarah Koenig dedicated the entire July 8 episode to hydrofracking and the effect that natural gas exploitation is having on Pennsylvania's economy.  

Here's a synopsis:

A professor in Pennsylvania makes a calculation, to discover that his state is sitting atop a massive reserve of natural gas—enough to revolutionize how America gets its energy. But another professor in Pennsylvania does a different calculation and reaches a troubling conclusion: that getting natural gas out of the ground poses a risk to public health. Two men, two calculations, and two very different consequences.

If you haven't heard it already, you can tune into it here.

pennstatelive / via Flickr

Two gas wells in northeastern Pennsylvania have set records for gas driller Cabot.

The wells - which went online in May - each started off producing almost 30 million cubic feet of natural gas.

If you do some long-division, those production numbers mean that every day, each well is producing just shy of enough gas to provide a minute of natural gas energy to the entire United States.