Labor, Business, Elected Leaders Unite in Support of Energy Development, Manufacturing

What unites labor, business groups, Democrats, and Republicans in Western Pennsylvania? Energy and the generational opportunity to grow good-paying manufacturing jobs critical to a thriving middle class.

Remarks from Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto last week to halt future development of petrochemical manufacturing facilities across the region drew swift response from a diverse set of voices who recognize the opportunity to leverage the region’s natural gas abundance for economic growth and environmental progress.

“No city has benefitted more from the shale revolution than the City of Pittsburgh,” Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald told KDKA radio. “I’ll never forget seeing the Marcellus Shale in 2007 and realizing we have hope. We have hope for the future.”

Pittsburgh, in fact, was recently ranked as one of the “most successful” Rust Belt city comebacks, with the report citing the “steady supply of well-paying, blue-collar jobs” from the Marcellus shale sector. That economic growth extends far beyond natural gas extraction as the energy produced here gives manufacturers the competitive edge to invest, grow and create thousands of well-paying, family sustaining careers, particularly for the union and building trades.

From the steamfitters to the ironworkers and operating engineers, union halls across the region are at full employment working to build the Shell Pennsylvania Petrochemical facility – or ethane cracker – in Beaver County, modernize and expand our energy pipeline infrastructure, and build new, highly-efficient natural gas power plants, among others.

“It’s hard to believe that the Mayor of Pittsburgh would actually tell companies not to create thousands of good middle-class jobs in our region. And it just isn’t true that we have to choose between good jobs and clean air and water,” the Allegheny-Fayette Labor Council President Darrin Kelly said. “Calling to banish an entire industry is an insult to a lot of hard-working men and women in organized labor and their entire way of life. I urge these companies to work hand-in-hand with organized labor and our local elected officials so together we can create good middle-class jobs, do this work safely and responsibility, and protect our environment and the communities we all call home.”

Given the long-term development opportunity the Marcellus and Utica shale plays represent, we’re in the early innings of a double-header in fully realizing the manufacturing, consumer, clean air and water, and national security benefits tied to American natural gas.

As we continue to safely produce the energy our economy and world needs, MSC and our members are proud of the deep partnership forged with the region’s union trades and we proudly stand shoulder to shoulder with our hardworking building trades and unions in support of safe, job-creating energy production

Here’s what they’re saying in support of Pennsylvania shale development and manufacturing:

Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald: “No city has benefitted more from the shale revolution than the City of Pittsburgh…I’ll never forget seeing the Marcellus Shale in 2007 and realizing we have hope. We have hope for the future.”

“The cost of heating your home is 70% less than it was 12 years ago. Because of the surplus of natural gas that we have here, it has saved the average homeowner $1,200 a year in their energy cost. That’s a lot of money we’re saving for people and I don’t want to turn that around.”

“Beaver County has seen a resurgence because of what’s going on with that Shell petrochemical plant…The cracker plant has brought $7 billion of wealth into this region that has provided our building trades with the full employment that they’re at right now.”


Stefani Pashman, CEO of Allegheny Conference on Community Development: “Mayor Peduto’s statement was misguided and unnecessarily creates a false choice. A strong economy is essential to provide prosperity for everyone who lives here while we work together to improve our environment and quality of life. Leveraging the region’s natural and human resources in a responsible way is part of our diverse economic development strategy.”


Allegheny-Fayette Labor Council President Darrin Kelly: “It’s hard to believe that the Mayor of Pittsburgh would actually tell companies not to create thousands of good middle-class jobs in our region. And it just isn’t true that we have to choose between good jobs and clean air and water. Calling to banish an entire industry is an insult to a lot of hard-working men and women in organized labor and their entire way of life. I urge these companies to work hand-in-hand with organized labor and our local elected officials so together we can create good middle-class jobs, do this work safely and responsibility, and protect our environment and the communities we all call home.”


Gene Barr, President and CEO, Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry: “A 21st century economy is going to need a diverse array of energy and natural resources. Not only are oil, gas, steel and coal necessary inputs to the supply chain for the components of wind and solar arrays, the plastics that will be developed from the polyethylene derived from local shale gas can be used in medical devices, electronics and automotive parts. Given that Pittsburgh has established itself as a leader in health care, technology and transportation innovation, it is imperative these industries partner with continued advances being led by materials sciences manufacturers, including those in the petrochemical industry.


Abby Foster, President Pennsylvania Chemical Industry Council: “The strong and swift response from a cross-section of regional businesses, labor groups and public officials made clear that many do not share Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto’s sentiments toward the petrochemical industry. Pittsburgh hosts more than a dozen chemical and petrochemical companies. These tenants are not only huge employers supporting the tax base and economic health of the region but also have been critical allies in reducing greenhouse gas emissions.


Beaver County Commissioners: “Mayor Peduto may represent the city of Pittsburgh, but he does not represent the remainder of this region,” Commissioner Chairman Daniel Camp said in a statement. “Let me be clear when I say: Beaver County is open for business and will continue to encourage and welcome the responsible production of energy in our region, which is vital to our workforce.


Helen Kissick, vice chairwoman, Beaver County Chamber of Commerce: “It’s always a delicate balance between developing business and making sure the environment is protected. But one way to think about it is Shell actually took brown sites that were sitting idly in need of remediation and addressed a lot of challenges. As a Chamber of Commerce, we encourage economic development and job creation. We welcome petrochemical businesses coming to our region and doing it in an environmentally sustainable way.”


U.S. Senator Pat Toomey (R): “Natural gas exploration, the cracker plant, and the downstream manufacturing sector are great for Southwestern Pennsylvania. Tens of thousands of good-paying jobs have already been created, energy prices are falling, and the growing use of natural gas for electricity generation has improved air quality and reduced CO2 emissions. The region is positioned to be an energy and manufacturing hub for years to come.”


Jeff Kotula, President and CEO, Washington County Chamber: “In Washington County, we have seen economic and job growth at an unprecedented scale in both the energy sector as well as businesses that support it. This has resulted in a growing population, low taxes, and more job opportunities for our county as well as reduced carbon emissions across the state. Now we are in a growth position again with the cracker plant and the petrochemical businesses that will follow and want to take full advantage of those opportunities.”


State Senator Camera Bartolotta: “The petrochemical industry is an amazing partner with our region, not only in terms of the jobs it provides, but also the investments in our communities in education, job training, support for veterans, infrastructure and other critical priorities for the region. We should continue to support and nurture that partnership in order to create more job opportunities and a better standard of living in southwestern Pennsylvania communities. To dismiss the economic impact of the industry – and the family-sustaining jobs it provides – in order to pander to the extreme left wing of his political party is disappointing, to say the least.”


Pa. Speaker of the House Mike Turzai: “We certainly should not be driving away other trades based on fear, misinformation, or propaganda…The petrochemical industry, among others, brings employment and revitalization to the more rural towns and counties that have been struggling for decades since the decline of steel, coal and other manufacturing. As state leaders-or even, one would hope, as local leaders who should care about our entire region – it is our responsibility to ensure that the future holds good jobs for families in every part of Western Pennsylvania.”