MSC in the Phila. Inq.: The Keys to Expanding Benefits of Pa.’s Shale-Energy Revolution

Pennsylvania is at the forefront of America’s energy revolution. As a result of our abundant shale resources, the United States has surpassed both Saudi Arabia and Russia as the world’s leading oil and natural-gas producer in 2014.

But what does that mean for manufacturers and small businesses here at home?

It’s absolutely clear that safe shale development is stimulating new manufacturing opportunities, delivering for consumers, and creating environmental benefits, all while providing us with a reliable source of energy.

Numerous household goods are produced with clean-burning natural gas: cameras, footballs, batteries, life-sustaining medications, tape, computers, curtains, deodorant, air mattresses, bandages, ink. And homegrown shale gas has reduced home-heating and utility costs by half over the past several years.

Manufacturers are also regaining a competitive edge in the global marketplace and producing more “Made in U.S.A.” goods once again. At the same time, new natural-gas power plants are being built – helping to create tens of thousands of construction and building-trade jobs – to keep our economy moving and our air clean.

With shale’s benefits extending throughout the commonwealth, it was a natural fit for Philadelphia to host a world-class forum this week – Shale Insight 2015 – that was focused on further expanding these environmental, economic, and national security benefits.

In fact, not only do Philadelphia-area consumers benefit from natural-gas extraction in other corners of Pennsylvania, but the region plays a key – and growing – role in expanding natural-gas end-use opportunities.

For example, Delaware County’s Marcus Hook Industrial Complex – and the countless hardworking families that rely on the facility for employment – is experiencing a complete transformation.

Sunoco Logistics’ proposed Mariner East pipeline will deliver natural-gas liquids to Marcus Hook – a project that the Laborers’ International Union of North America called a “lifeline to good union jobs with family-supporting pay.” This project is expected to generate nearly $4.2 billion in economic activity, support 30,000 construction jobs, and produce nearly $62 million in tax revenues for the commonwealth, according to a recent Econsult Solutions study.

Beyond Marcus Hook, pipeline projects like Mariner East are critical to delivering shale’s end-use benefits to commercial and consumer users. According to a Brookings Institution report, in fact, affordable natural-gas supplies have “improved the economic well-being of consumers by $74 billion per year.” Additional consumer benefits will be realized as more natural gas is safely produced and moved to market.

Reliable and affordable natural-gas supplies – a key manufacturing feedstock – give Pennsylvania manufacturers a critical competitive advantage. The American Chemistry Council has stated that “shale development has reversed the fortunes of the U.S. plastics industry” and ensured that manufacturers are “re-shoring” jobs once lost to foreign nations with lower energy costs.

Our environment is improving due to greater natural-gas use, too. Federal government data shows that the nation’s carbon dioxide emissions are at a 20-year low and power-generating emissions are at a 27-year low, all due in large part to clean-burning natural gas.

For consumers, building trades, manufacturers, and our environment, responsible shale development is delivering a stronger future for Pennsylvania, which will be closely watched as our industry matures and weathers these difficult global commodity market headwinds.

This week’s dialogue at Shale Insight 2015, rooted in facts and science, was laser-focused on ensuring that the economic equation is right for our state and its citizens to maximize the broad-based benefits tied to this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

David Spigelmyer is president of the Marcellus Shale Coalition.

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