By David Spigelmyer
As we move deeper into this election season, candidates will crisscross the state offering solutions to create jobs, grow the economy, protect our environment, keep us safe, and increase revenues, among many campaign promises.
Even though it may seem like there’s much that pulls us apart, the need for clean, reliable and affordable energy is an area of common ground.
And Pennsylvania-produced natural gas is the solution that moves our Commonwealth forward.
This summer, through the Forge the Future initiative, we joined leading Pennsylvania trade associations, organizations and business leaders to collaborate on commonsense, practical policy solutions to leveraging the Commonwealth’s energy abundance.
These discussions are an important step in ways that we can collectively – among business, civic, and political leaders – work to fully realize the economic, environmental and national security benefits of our abundant natural resources.
Pennsylvania’s energy opportunity is enormous. With the right policies, Pennsylvania could unlock a potential $60 billion economic windfall and 100,000 more jobs by 2025 through greater natural gas production and use, according to a report issued last year by McKinsey & Company.
Just a decade into the so-called shale revolution, and we’re already realizing many of the economic and environmental benefits tied to natural gas.
Clean, domestic natural gas is Pennsylvania’s second-largest electricity generator and heats more than half of all Pennsylvania homes. As a result, residential purchased natural gas costs for PECO customers, for example, have fallen 69 percent, compared to a decade ago, resulting in $1,384 in average annual savings.
These significant energy savings are particularly helpful to low-income households, who typically pay a higher percentage of their income toward energy costs.
As was reported widely late last year, a University of Pennsylvania Kleinman Center for Energy and Policy study confirms that Pennsylvania consumers are realizing 40 percent in savings on natural gas compared to 2008. “Shale gas has been a clear win for consumers,” the report’s author, Christina Simeone, commented.
Manufacturers, too, are already taking notice of Pennsylvania’s abundant, affordable and reliable energy. Today, “Made in Pennsylvania” is a reality once more, as manufacturers – particularly in the chemicals and petrochemical industries – see the Commonwealth’s energy abundance as a competitive advantage.
From the Shell ethane cracker plant under construction in Western Pennsylvania to the rebirth of the Marcus Hook Industrial Complex along the banks of the Delaware River, natural gas is driving a manufacturing revival.
As our building trades modernize our infrastructure, manufacturing expands and family-sustaining jobs are created strengthening Pennsylvania’s middle class.
Realizing the complete benefits of Pennsylvania’s energy abundance means more than economic growth – environmental progress is important and with natural gas, we can and do have both.
Thanks to the greater use of clean-burning natural gas, America leads the world in carbon emission reductions. Since 1990, as domestic natural gas production and use increased, emissions from six key pollutants – carbon monoxide, lead, nitrogen dioxide, ozone, particulate matter, and sulfur dioxide – plummeted 73 percent according to the Environmental Protection Agency’s 2018 annual air report.
Importantly, this steady improvement in air quality occurred as the U.S economy and energy use increased.
Safe and responsible domestic energy development isn’t a Republican, Democrat or Independent issue. Commonsense policies that recognize our abundant energy resources as an asset – not a liability – can continue to help create hundreds of thousands of Pennsylvania jobs, greatly improve our environment, and strengthen our nation’s standing in the world.
It’s a policy that we all can – and must – support.
Mr. Spigelmyer is president of the Pittsburgh-based Marcellus Shale Coalition. Learn more at MarcellusCoalition.org.
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