"This generation can complete the journey that Col. Drake began," the governor told the audience at the Shale Gas Insight conference at the Philadelphia Convention Center, alluding to Col. Edwin Drake's discovery of oil in northwest Pennsylvania in the 1850s.
Through lack of foresight and planning, Pennsylvania failed to capitalize on Drake's discovery, and the boom went bust, Corbett said. This time will be different, he added.
He described companies across the state expanding and adding jobs because of the shale boom. On Wednesday, Corbett attended a ceremony marking a Philadelphia oil refinery's acquisition by a private equity group; that refinery and two others will shortly be processing natural gas, he predicted.
He also mentioned the state's implementation of an impact fee, and the more than $200 million in initial collections.
"It is beyond belief that there are people who would trade this progress for a return to the status quo," he said.
After Corbett, former ABC News anchor Ted Koppel moderated a discussion of national energy policy between state Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Michael Krancer, representing the Romney presidential campaign, and former DEP Secretary Kathleen McGinty, representing the Obama side.
Krancer slammed what he called the Obama administration's lack of clear policy, particularly the postponement of a decision on the Keystone Pipeline project to bring oil into the U.S. from Canadian tar sands.
McGinty described the administration's policy as an "all of the above" approach, and rejected what she called a "false choice" between fossil fuels on the one hand and renewable fuels and rigorous environmental review on the other.
Editor's note: This story has been modified from a previous version to correct the location of Drake's oil discovery.