It rings in pipelines and hums in generators. We are located high up in the hills of Lycoming County, and are shown around one of the many gas plants found in this part of Pennsylvania.
– These hills are full of gas. It is taken out of this plant and pumped further in pipelines and out to the market, says Matt Henderson.
He has worked in the oil and gas industry here in Pennsylvania for 13 years.
“Pennsylvania is the second largest producer of oil and gas in the United States after Texas,” Henderson told TV 2.
– Only this small plant here produces enough gas to heat 1000 households for one year.
– Important for the economy
The area TV 2 is located on is on the edge of the Marcellus slate field, and therefore pipelines, drilling rigs and gas installations are not uncommon in these areas.
The reason is fracking, the controversial method of extracting oil and gas from shale formations in the ground.
The industry has been important in terms of income and jobs in parts of Pennsylvania that have not otherwise attracted as much investment. Admittedly, the industry has for several years been characterized by poor financial management, overproduction and falling gas prices, in addition to the corona pandemic leading to less demand. Henderson believes the industry has nevertheless had a stabilizing effect in this region.
– The gas industry has helped to stabilize this region during the pandemic. For example, it leads to outside visitors who have stayed in the hotels here, and helped them stay afloat in these times, he says.
– The gas industry has driven the economy here in times of recession, and meant a lot in terms of jobs. It has created opportunities for people in this area.
Think Biden will ban fracking
The issue of fracking has become a hot topic in the US election campaign. In particular, President Trump has been eager to speak on the subject in an attempt to gain the votes of the white working class in rural Pennsylvania. In 2016, he secured the important tipping state and its 20 voters with only 44,000 more votes than the rival candidate Hillary Clinton.
President Donald Trump accuses Joe Biden of wanting to ban fracking, which the Democrat stubbornly denies. But Bidens’ sometimes vague wording on the subject has given Trump a shot he uses for all it’s worth when he runs for office in Pennsylvania.
“I think Biden wants to phase out the oil and gas industry, and under Obama we had far more bureaucracy and regulations than we have had under President Trump,” Henderson said.
– But Biden has said he does not want to ban fracking?
– He says it now, but I think he really wants it. I think it has dawned on him that the gas industry is important to Pennsylvania. That is why he has changed his message to attract voters, Henderson believes.
His vote will also go to Trump this time.
– My vote will go to the incumbent president. He is a businessman and understands that regulations and bureaucracy can kill investments.
Henderson is not the only one who supports Trump in this part of Pennsylvania. From Lycoming county, TV 2 crosses into the neighboring county of Tioga. In both places, Trump received over 70 percent of the vote in 2016.
Along the road are spacious detached houses with green lawns in front. Everywhere there are signs with “Biden Harris” on them, but “Trump Pence” signs are in the overwhelming majority.
Conservative values and strong faith in God make this one of the core areas for Republicans in Pennsylvania.
In the city of Wellsboro, we meet Erick Coolidge, the county commissioner for the Republicans in Tioga. He would like to show us what fracking has meant for the county.
The first place he takes us to is the new alarm center in the area.
– We were able to build this thanks to the income from the oil and gas industry, he says and proudly shows us around.
– This center serves several of the neighboring counties as well.
Believes Trump supports them
Then the trip continues to the large water and sand depots used in the fracking process. There we meet truck driver Jeff, who is in the process of filling up sand that will then be transported to a drilling rig.
– What are important topics for you in this election?
– I work in the fracking industry, I transport the sand used for the fracking. Since Trump is for fracking, I will vote for him, Jeff says firmly.
– There are thousands of jobs in the fracking and drilling industry so it is important that Trump is re-elected so that we can stay afloat.
Concerned about the economy
According to opinion polls, the economy is the most important issue for Americans in this election. After a period of very low unemployment, the arrows went straight up when the corona pandemic hit the country and several states had to shut down. At worst, in April, unemployment was as high as 14.7 percent. In September, the unemployment rate was 7.9 per cent. 10.7 million more Americans are unemployed now than they were before the pandemic.
Trump has promised favorable terms for the oil and gas industry, new tax cuts and 10 million jobs in 10 months if he is re-elected.
What he does not talk so much about, however, are the promises he made in 2016 that he has not been able to fulfill. For example, he promised a large and comprehensive infrastructure package, more industrial jobs and to save the coal industry. These are promises that were not fulfilled.
Nevertheless, Trump has consistently scored well in opinion polls on who voters trust in economic matters.
Several of those TV 2 meets along Main Street in Wellsboro mention the economy as the most important topic for them in this election campaign.
– Who do you think is best to rebuild the economy after the pandemic?
– Trump. The economy and the management of the corona pandemic are important issues for me, and I think the current president handles both well, says Jeff.
– None of them are particularly good, but they are the only ones we have at the moment, says Micaela, who has doubted that her voice will go to Joe Biden.
– You probably do not meet so many of us Biden voters here in Wellsboro, she says cheerfully.
Believes Trump is best at business
Four years with Trump has been good for business, Matt thinks. Therefore, he believes the president is the right person to rebuild the economy again after the pandemic.
– He has been much more friendly to our industry when it comes to understanding how important we are financially, he believes.
– I will vote for incumbent President Trump because I think he is for business and because of his background as a businessman.
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