Pa. Voters Broadly Support Natural gas, Manufacturing Growth

Proposals to ban hydraulic fracturing considered extreme, would “devastate” region’s economy.

Banning the safe, responsible use of hydraulic fracturing, as some candidates have proposed, is a policy stance out of touch with the views of Pennsylvania voters, two articles in the New York Times and Washington Post find. Pennsylvanians on both sides of the political spectrum realize the importance of the natural gas industry, as the articles highlight, and how an outright ban would be devastating for the state’s economy and environment.

Even Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto, who just last fall saidI oppose any additional petrochemical companies coming to western Pennsylvania”, told the Times that proposals to ban fracking would be “devastating.”:

The Warren-Sanders ban-all-fracking-right-now position would absolutely devastate communities throughout the Rust Belt,” Peduto said. “If a candidate comes into this state and tries to sell that policy, they’re going to have a hard time winning,” he said.

Pennsylvania would shed more than 600,000 jobs and households would lose approximately $114 billion by 2025, according to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, if a ban on hydraulic fracturing were instituted.

Given these staggering statistics, it’s no wonder 61% of self-identified “swing voters” in Pennsylvania said a fracking ban was not a good idea, according to a Kaiser Family Foundation survey.

Voters hold these deep concerns, nationally, as well, with many “fear[ing] economic impact of abrupt end to fracking”, to put it in the terms of a survey conducted by Rasmussen Reports.

Here’s what Western Pa. leaders told the New York Times and the Washington Post this week about the importance of natural gas:

  • Jeff Nobers, Executive Director, Builders Guild of Western Pa.: “[Pennsylvania] is of the most robust economies in the country. And it’s mostly fueled by, yeah, the gas industry, the burgeoning petrochemical industry, manufacturing.” (1/27/20)
  • Pennsylvania Lieutenant Governor John Fetterman: “Men and women need to eat and put a roof over their head…[fracking] is still a necessary part of our economy.” (1/24/20)
  • Democratic State Representative Rob Matzie: A candidate who wants to ban hydraulic fracturing cannot win the state”. Born and raised in Beaver County, Rep. Matzie recalled the economic hardship of the steel industry’s decline while growing up. Now, he is seeing new homes being constructed and is anticipating additional infrastructure needs in response to Shell’s petrochemical plant. (1/27/20)
  • Jim Kunz, Business Manager, International Union of Operating Engineers Local 66: “I can tell you, in 2010, my local was at about 10% unemployment. Natural gas started to come here in about 2010. Within a year to a year and a half, we went from 10% unemployment to actually over employment. I had to look for people. We went to full employment, and we’ve been at or near full employment, and occasionally over employed, since.” Mr. Kunz later added, “if we end up with a Democratic candidate that supports a fracking ban, I am going to tell my members that they either don’t vote or vote for the other guy.” (1/24/20)
  • Ken Broadbent, Business Manager, UA Local 449 Steamfitters: “Why should we send these petrochemical plants, for instance, over to China where they won’t worry about the pollution? At least here we’re going to do it with the most modern technology and with the least amount of pollution possible. And we’re still going to keep people that have jobs here.” (1/24/20)
  • Ed Becker, small business owner of Bower’s Restaurant in Monaca: “After all of these years of people talking about the steel mills closing, and crying about that, there are now ‘help wanted’ signs everywhere. Actually, they have to put ‘help wanted’ banners up — it’s not even a sign anymore.” (1/27/20)

The coverage from the New York Times and the Washington Post comes on the heels of remarks from other Western Pa. leaders touting the importance of natural gas to the region:

  • Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald: “no city has benefited more form 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.” (10/31/19)
  • Allegheny-Fayette Labor Council President Darrin Kelly: “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.” (10/30/19)
  • Stefani Pashman, CEO of Allegheny Conference on Community Development: “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.” (10/31/19)
  • Beaver County Commissioners: “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.” (10/30/19)

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