Energize PA Seeks to Build on Pennsylvania’s Natural Gas Abundance

Kelsey Mulac
Cabot Oil & Gas
External Affairs, Pittsburgh

Energize PA is a proposal to move the Commonwealth to still higher ground in the competition for life-fulfilling jobs and truly sustainable communities.

Cabot Oil & Gas Corporation, the Pennsylvania Manufacturers’ Association, the Northeast PA Manufacturers & Employers Association and the Greater Hazleton Chamber of Commerce hosted a “Think About Energy” briefing on Wednesday, October 2 at the Valley Country Club in Sugarloaf, Pennsylvania. It was a first-class presentation centered on Energize PA.

Energize PA

l-r: Rep. Aaron Kaufer, George Stark, Rep. Tarah Toohill, Speaker Mike Turzai

This event featured the Speaker of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives Mike Turzai and continued the multi-year series conducted across Pennsylvania since 2013. This marks the second stop in the Hazleton area with the first one dating back to April 2016.

The Sugarloaf session provided information to attendees on the supply and availability of natural gas; manufacturing and chemical industry opportunities; and an update on a package of legislative bills known as “Energize PA,” among other topics.

Representative Tarah Toohil, R-116, discussed House Bill 1104 that would provide for an Abandoned Manufacturing Sites Registry.

“House Bill 1104 would require the Department of Community and Economic Development to establish an online registry for abandoned manufacturing sites statewide to make it easier for redevelopment companies to find them. These unused and forgotten properties from the past have great potential as major contributors to our economic future. We want to dust the rust off our part of the Rust Belt, and say, ‘Welcome to Pennsylvania, we’re open for business.’”

George Stark, Director of External Affairs at Cabot Oil & Gas, highlighted Pennsylvania’s strong natural gas production, the industry’s sustained focus on workforce development and the impact on the manufacturing sector.

“Just 12 years ago there was no natural gas production in Susquehanna County. However today, Susquehanna County is the top producing county of natural gas in the state. This has helped drive energy bills lower, provide more job opportunities and will continue to provide affordable natural gas to the regional markets that need it. We’re working hard to continue spreading the environmental and economic benefits that natural gas offers.”

Stark went on to discuss the opportunities for the manufacturing industry.

“The future is bright in the sense you do have an abundant resource of natural gas and an abundant resource of electricity. Those are the building blocks for manufacturers. Natural gas is here and it’s not going anywhere. We have the opportunity to build more from a manufacturing standpoint.”

Representative Aaron Kaufer, R-120, highlighted the importance of capitalizing on job opportunities.

“We are in an international economy. We need to use our natural resources of affordable natural gas to compete with cheap labor overseas. This is a generational opportunity, not only for Northeastern Pennsylvania but for all the Commonwealth. We need to take advantage of it.”

Kaufer went on to talk of legislation he proposed in House Bill 1100 that would provide an incentive for “dry gas” like the one that attracted the Shell Cracker Facility to Beaver County. The proposal would require a minimum of one billion investment and 1,000 full-time construction jobs to be eligible.

“House Bill 1100 is not only an investment in our region but the entire state. This could help to attract petrochemical manufacturers to the area and provide a much-needed boost to the local economy.”

Tom Gellrich, CEO of TopLine Analytics, highlighted the numerous benefits of an abundant supply of natural gas.

“The Shale gas revolution has brought dramatically lower natural gas prices which benefits all of us as individuals with lower energy bills. It also benefits energy-intensive manufacturing such as glass or steel making for which energy is one-third of their costs. The impact is more pronounced in the chemical industry, as shale gas is both the source of energy and the raw material, accounting for three-quarters of their costs.”

Gellrich expanded on the impact within the chemical industry as a result of the Shale Revolution.

“The American Chemistry Council has tracked over $200 billion in announced or already constructed projects in the chemical industry as a result of Shale. The investment in the chemical industry is today more than capital investment in other manufacturing sectors such as Tesla cars, Boeing jets, Intel computer chips, and all other manufacturing sectors combined.”

House Speaker Mike Turzai closed the session discussing natural gas production in Pennsylvania and the impact it has on the environment and economy.

“Pennsylvania is the number two natural gas-producing state in the country and a major component in America’s pursuit of global energy dominance. The increased production has helped lead to a significant reduction in air emissions – helping Pennsylvania meet Clean Power Plan goals ahead of schedule and without government interference.”

Speaker Turzai went on to discuss the Energize PA bill package. Energize PA includes bills aimed to attract new businesses to Pennsylvania.

“It’s time to Energize PA. An industry that already contributes $45 billion to Pennsylvania’s economy, supports more than 300,000 family-sustaining jobs in our great state and generates billions of dollars in bonus and royalty payments for Pennsylvania landowners.”

“Let’s put people to work, let’s re-use abandoned manufacturing spaces, let’s grow our economy, all the while making PA products that we use every day.”

For more on today’s Think About Energy Briefing and the briefing series’ history, visit www.thinkaboutbriefing.com.

Reposted, with permission, from Well Said Cabot.

Editor’s Note: I attended this event and was struck by four points made:

  1. Chemical companies love brownfield sites and Northeast Pennsylvania has a large number of them.
  2.  Representatives of organized labor was there to extol the benefits of Energize PA. Speaker Turzai likewise indicated his strong support for labor and indicated he would protect prevailing wage law.
  3. The U.S. can produce chemicals, in contrast to many other products, at half the cost of China.
  4. A cracker plant such as the one Shell is building in Western Pennsylvania involves 6,000 construction workers and has to be retooled every three years, meaning construction jobs will return on a regular basis.

What this means is that Northeast Pennsylvania, indeed all of the Commonwealth, is extraordinarily well positioned to build on the tremendous resource that is shale.

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