Aqua America CEO backs natural gas

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Pennsylvania is literally sitting on massive amounts of natural gas that, if managed correctly, could play a significant role in reducing U.S. dependence on foreign oil. This is according to Nicholas DeBenedictis Chairman and CEO of Aqua America, one of the largest publicly-traded water utilities.

"The Commonwealth has always been a rich source of energy for the world," DeBenedictis said. "Although not well known, in 1859, the very first US oil well was drilled, not in Texas, not in California -- but in Pennsylvania. This is where companies like Pennzoil and Quaker State got their start and their names."

Although he was speaking at a symposium in Philadelphia, he conceded that other states have the opportunity to take advantage of the natural gas bounty made possible through new technology for shale drilling.

"Today, we have the opportunity to show the world how to use this land in a way that is good for people, the economy and the earth, unlike a century or more ago when many coal companies grabbed the coal and left the land in worse shape than they found it," DeBenedictis said.

He added that he is impressed with the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection's work in creating regulations and an enforcement team to ensure that the Marcellus Shale industry is managed correctly. The utility has made a commitment to turning over much of its vehicle fleet to compressed natural gas.

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