A PennEast Pipeline FERC hearing last night at Penn’s Peak in Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania brought out lots of deserved support from workers.
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) is holding four public hearings this week on the PennEast Pipeline. One took place at the well known Penn’s Peak venue perched overlooking the Lehigh River in Carbon County, Pennsylvania. It was reasonably well-attended. More importantly, there were numerous union representatives there to make the case for the project. There was also landowner support.
I attended the FERC hearing. This was my first visit to Penn’s Peak and what a stunning facility it is. Here’s the view:
This FERC hearing was different than others I have attended. It was done by allowing each witness to testify individually. (See below for the fellow who followed me). The format takes away any opportunity for project opponents to make scenes or do play-acting. That’s a very good thing and the antis weren’t happy about it. They wanted spectacle opportunities.
While I enjoy speaking and listening to other speakers, I also liked this format. It strips down the public input process to its essential function; public input. It provides opportunities for all to be heard without the theatrics. Present to testify in support of the PennEast Pipeline were members of the Laborers’ International Union of North America (LIUNA) and International Union of Operating Engineers Local 542. Here are some of folks lined up to testify:
I testified about the importance of the PennEast Pipeline at both ends of the project. You can read my remarks below. What others had to say was more important to me, though. Here’s Chuck Clarke from LIUNA:
Dennis Keefer, from the Operating Engineers, also attended and told me afterwords how pleased he was to be there to testify. The union members, of course, know how important these pipeline jobs are to their livelihoods. This is a project with $1.62 billion of estimated economic impact during the construction stage, after all.
Landowners were also there to support the project. Here’s Trevor Walczak of the Pennsylvania Chapter of the National Association of Royalty Owners:
The attendance seemed to be fairly balanced between proponents and opponents of the PennEast Pipeline. FERC is also certainly learning how to do their job better. Overall, therefore, it was a good night for the PennEast Pipeline. Here is my testimony as to why the project is so important:
I am a consulting planner with over 40 years of experience consulting with businesses and communities in Northeastern Pennsylvania. I also publish a blog supporting natural gas because I see what it’s done economically for us.
The PennEast Pipeline should be approved by FERC for the same reason anti-gas forces oppose it; it will assist natural gas development here and provide clean, inexpensive gas to urban areas along the Eastern Seaboard.
The construction impacts of the PennEast Pipeline pipeline total $1.62 billion but the real value is the economic development at the rural end and low stable prices for gas at the urban end; both made possible by infrastructure to deliver the gas.
We see, with our own eyes, the economic impacts here compared with neighboring counties in New York who have been unable to develop. Susquehanna County, for example, now has a higher median household income than Sullivan County, NY only 20 miles away despite being 9.1% lower in 2000. Bradford County had no employment in the oil and gas in 2007 and 983 jobs five years later.
These economic impacts can only be sustained with infrastructure to move more gas from these rural counties to urban markets where it’s needed and performs an economic miracle of another sort by lowering energy costs.
Concentric Energy Advisors estimated consumer savings amounting to $893.4 million for the 2013-14 winter season had the PennEast Pipeline been in place then. Those savings represent but a one-year figure. Repeat it regularly and we have gigantic tax cut and a tremendous boost in the net asset value of the homes and businesses impacted. Indeed, the net present value of a $893.4 million savings per year over 20 years (using a 5% discount) is $11.1 billion. Now, we’re talking real money.
That’s what natural gas development in the rural Northeast has done for consumers in the urban Northeast and why the PennEast Pipeline should be approved.