Private landowners are reaping billions of dollars in royalties each year from the boom in natural gas drilling, transforming some lives even as the windfall provides only a modest boost to the broader economy.
In Pennsylvania royalty payments could top $1.2 billion for 2012, according to an analysis by The Associated Press.
Jerry Simmons, the director of the Oklahoma-based National Association of Royalty Owners, says membership is growing fast in Pennsylvania.
The group says nationwide gas royalties totaled about $22 billion in 2010. Texas paid out the most, about $6.7 billion, followed by Wyoming at $2 billion and Alaska at $1.9 billion.
Robert Inman, a professor of economics at the University of Pennsylvania, says the royalty windfalls are good for individuals, but not a big factor in the overall economy.