Pennsylvanians @ the Polls: Natural Gas is Essential to Our Communities

While political pundits dissect this election, one theme is clear: Natural gas is an essential part of Pennsylvania’s communities and a motivating issue for voters. If this election tells us anything, it’s that Pennsylvanians broadly support commonsense, energy policies that move our economy and environment forward.  

“If someone in your family makes their living in some way connected to natural gas, whether on the pipeline itself, or you know, even in a restaurant that serves natural gas workers, this isn’t something to joke around about or be casual about in your language,” Congressman Conor Lamb (D – Pa.) told fellow House Democrats last week, speaking to the importance of natural gas development and of politicians who make unrealistic Green New Deal-styled policy proposals that would be a gut punch to working families.

Pennsylvania is a national leader in safe, responsible shale development, and the growth of natural gas production, transportation, and use – not to mention the thousands of small businesses up and down the supply chain – continues to be a driving force in our state’s economy.

What Pennsylvania has shown, too, is that we don’t have to choose economic growth over environmental progress. We are achieving both when we tap into the clean energy resources we have in our backyards – telling an “American Success Story” about this area, as the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Editorial Board put it.

So, when Pennsylvanians voted last Tuesday, support for clean, job-creating domestic natural gas was front and center. 

“In the last weeks of the presidential race, the future of fracking here is directly tied to voters’ livelihoods,” a recent CNN segment explained to viewers.

As Bill Flanagan, chief corporate relations officer of the Allegheny Conference on Community Development, told viewers last week on his program What’s Now and What’s Next for Our Regional Economy:

“[The Marcellus formation] really unleashed a significant amount of capital investment and exploration and development as a result,” Flanagan said, calling the result “incredibly important for the dynamics of the region,” especially with regard to recovering from the severe economic downturn of 2008-09.

The natural gas sector provides high paying job and career growth opportunities for Pennsylvanians of all backgrounds – from the petroleum engineers to the union pipefitter and boilermaker.

“Natural gas put this area on the map,” Emmanuel Paris, a senior project manager at Alex E. Paris Contracting Inc. (AEP), told CNN. AEP is a family owned energy services and construction business located in Washington County, Pa.

“Our company went from approximately 250 employees to 400, to about 650 in years,” Paris continued, referring to the shale revolution that enabled his family’s business to expand.

And those opportunities for steady, good-paying careers extend beyond the well pad. The region’s energy abundance delivers affordability and reliability for consumers and businesses, giving Pennsylvania the competitive energy advantage for manufacturers. 

Job growth, manufacturing revival, environmental progress – these are just a few of the many benefits Pennsylvanians are realizing thanks to natural gas development.

As CBS This Morning’s Tony Dekopoul asked Allegheny Co. Executive Rich Fitzgerald (D) recently: “How important is natural gas to [the area]?”

“It’s huge,” Fitzgerald said.

He couldn’t be more right.