Southeastern Pennsylvania Benefits From Energy Development

President Joe Biden’s $2.25 trillion American Jobs Plan seeks to put people to work by rebuilding our nation’s critical infrastructure. But his plan to “build back better” overlooks the backbone of America’s energy system: pipelines.

Not only are these energy assets critical to powering our economy, pipelines are the lynchpin in helping the administration meet its climate goals. The president has pledged to slash U.S. emissions of greenhouse gases in at least half by 2030.

Make no mistake, the United States can continue to be an economic and climate leader by embracing responsible natural gas production, infrastructure, and use.

The United States has reduced greenhouse gas emissions faster than any other country in the world — an achievement tied to our emergence as the world’s top natural gas producer. Pennsylvania is second only to Texas in terms of production.

Electric sector-related emissions plummeted as more natural gas met our growing power demands. That has led to cleaner air across our commonwealth.

Carbon dioxide emissions tied to power generation continue to fall, with 2018-2019 emissions down 8.4 percent, according to new Environmental Protection Agency data. Indeed, these levels are 33 percent lower than 2005, despite a larger, more robust economy when shale gas development began in Appalachia.

Here in Pennsylvania, volatile organic compounds tied to power generation declined 40 percent between 2005-2018 and other pollutants like sulfur oxides (SOX) and nitrogen oxide (NOX) levels dropped 93 and 81 percent respectively, according to state Department of Environmental Protection data.

Energy is sometimes a divisive issue, but one thing Democrats and Republicans agree on is the need to become more independent and less reliant on foreign sources.

Not only is that happening right now, but roles are being reversed, with Pennsylvania helping to shape this new global energy dynamic. Increased development of the Marcellus and Utica shale formations has decreased our need for foreign energy sources and continues to bring enormous benefits to consumers and businesses across the state.

We understand the collective efforts that need to be made to protect our environment and address climate change, while also protecting our manufacturing and related industries — and the good-paying jobs they provide for families.

Continued investments in energy infrastructure to safely and responsibly deliver natural gas, natural gas liquids, and other refined products to market is essential, especially in southeastern Pennsylvania.

Many think that development of our resources only benefit communities in southwestern and northeastern Pennsylvania, where the shale fields are located. That’s nonsense.

Pipelines like Mariner East, for example, are the energy highways that developers need to get their product to market. Fueled by Mariner East, the Marcus Hook Industrial Complex in Delaware County is being revitalized from a former refinery into a world-class NGLs hub.

Total investment in Pennsylvania for the construction of all the pipeline, associated Marcus Hook Industrial Complex renovations and related fractionation facility is expected to be more than $6 billion.

Access to affordable natural gas also is the cornerstone of revitalizing our manufacturing base. Philadelphia and its surrounding counties have a strong industrial heritage. Low-cost energy is helping us write the next chapter of growth.

Development of Pennsylvania’s energy resources and related infrastructure have meant good-paying jobs for Steamfitters and other skilled laborers in the trades. And it has enabled them to work where they live and reinvest in their communities.

The Energy Information Administration forecasts that industrial consumption of natural gas will increase 35 percent between now and 2050, making it clear that clean energy goals will need new infrastructure and a skilled workforce. The only way to capitalize on our energy abundance, and corresponding environmental progress, is through a robust infrastructure network that supports good-paying jobs in the skilled trades and broader market participation.

Natural gas is, and should continue to be, the key to our country’s environmental progress.

Author: Jim Snell
Publication: Delaware Valley Journal
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