MSC in Phila. Inquirer: Commonsense Energy Policies Will Move Pa. Forward

With the election season behind us, voters across the spectrum are looking for action and results, especially with a focus on policies that spur job creation and economic activity.

As elected officials in Harrisburg and Washington tackle any number of pressing issues, it cannot be lost on anyone that the safe development and use of our abundant natural gas resources continues to generate immensely positive benefits for Pennsylvania’s economy and hard-working families.

Pennsylvania has been at the forefront of an energy revolution that’s making our country more energy secure while delivering benefits to consumers and enhancing our environment.

Pennsylvanians recognize this important progress and expect our elected leaders to support domestic energy development. In fact, a recent National Association of Manufacturers poll found overwhelming and bipartisan support for energy development, as 87 percent of voters across the commonwealth support efforts aimed at increasing energy infrastructure investments, a powerful source of job growth.

Communities that have embraced natural-gas development are especially realizing these meaningful benefits, as new research from a team of University of Chicago economists makes clear. The recent analysis shows an average 6 percent rise in home values, 7 percent increase in income, and per household benefits of up to $1,900 annually in natural gas-producing communities.

State leaders have a clear choice: Enact voter-supported, commonsense policies that encourage job-creating investment and growth through the production and expanded use of natural gas, or pursue even higher taxes on top of burdensome regulations that will shortchange the commonwealth’s potential.

This year, Pennsylvania has good reason to be cautiously optimistic after suffering deep and painful local job losses amid a challenging global energy market downturn.

Drilling rigs and related good-paying jobs are slowly returning. The petrochemical industry that has long been an economic driver in southwest Pennsylvania sees opportunity in the multibillion-dollar ethane cracker that Shell is building near Pittsburgh. And the Philadelphia region is quickly transforming into an energy hub – a location that supports hundreds of good-paying building trades jobs – fed by pipelines, processing facilities, and export terminals connected to shale-producing regions.

Harrisburg should not impede this steady recovery with more and even higher job-crushing taxes or unnecessary regulations that would reverse Pennsylvania’s gains.

Policies should be aimed toward attracting industries and manufacturers who can responsibly leverage our abundant resources and put more Pennsylvanians to work. The state must open its doors wider to those looking to grow and hire here. Expanding our economy means more jobs and much-needed state revenues.

Increased natural-gas production already has made American manufacturers more competitive by lowering their costs, according to a recent London School of Economics study. The report also underscores the important fact that the shale-driven cost advantage “helped the U.S. economy recover significantly faster than it would otherwise have done after the financial crisis.”

It’s time to connect more communities and businesses to our clean-burning natural-gas resources through increased and expanded infrastructure. Companies have signaled a desire to invest billions of dollars in the pipelines and facilities needed to move Pennsylvania-produced natural gas to consumers, manufacturers, and our global allies. And Pennsylvanians have made it clear they support increased investment in these critical projects.

The commonwealth can encourage development and investment in its people and resources, and see positive results like the revival of refineries and processors from South Philadelphia to Marcus Hook. We can have more success stories like the Proctor & Gamble plant in Wyoming County that is fueling its own manufacturing processes with affordable natural gas, or the Shell petrochemical facility in Beaver County.

Commonsense policies that encourage investment and job creation will move the state forward. All Pennsylvanians stand to benefit from this generational opportunity.

Dave Spigelmyer is president of the Pittsburgh-based Marcellus Shale Coalition (MarcellusCoalition.org). communications@marcelluscoalition.org

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