(HARRISBURG) – The Environmental Resources & Energy (ERE) Committee and the Senate Community, Economic & Recreational Development (CERD) Committee held a joint hearing Monday to examine the consumer and economic impacts of failing to invest in the state’s natural gas infrastructure.
“Energy infrastructure is absolutely critical to the well-being of Pennsylvanians,” said Senator Gene Yaw (R-23), chair of the ERE committee. “Pennsylvania is the No. 2 state when it comes to energy production. We have the asset to be No. 1, but the reason we are No. is that we do not have the infrastructure to support that asset. We need to develop infrastructure for all of our energy resources. The most practical portfolio is a diverse portfolio.”
Committee members heard testimony from labor officials, economic development and business leaders, and consumer advocates including Steamfitters Local 420 Business Manager Jim Snell, who pointed out that his group services Pennsylvania’s entire gas pipeline distribution system and “demand for clean-burning natural gas remains high.” He cited a forecast predicting that industrial consumption of natural gas will increase 35 percent between now and 2050.
“If we want to meet these clean energy goals, then we will need new infrastructure and a skilled workforce,” explained Snell. “The pipeline constraints that currently limit market access – affecting consumers, businesses and manufacturers – will only grow worse without projects like PennEast and enhanced investments in pipeline infrastructure.”
Additionally, Snell pointed out that pipelines are “critical to the fight against climate change.”
“With the safe, efficient transport of natural gas…to wider markets, electric sector-related emissions greatly decreased since 2005 as natural gas production and use has increased,” he said. “This has led to cleaner air across the Commonwealth.”
Pennsylvania Chamber of Business & Industry Director of Government Affairs Kevin Sunday told committee members that expanded natural gas infrastructure is necessary to provide reliable energy to the region, power the economy and meet climate goals.
“Unfortunately, at the behest of activists, the governments of New York and New Jersey have attempted to obstruct several pipeline projects that would have delivered additional gas to New England,” said Sunday, while explaining that annual electricity bills could rise by more than $150 million per year in that area. “Further, dozens of municipalities in upstate New York and New England are precluding from being supplied natural gas by their utility due to supply constraints. Instead, these residents will have to use more expensive and less sufficient space heating options.”
Other testifiers included Marcellus Shale Coalition President Dave Callahan, Laborers District Council of Eastern PA Business Manager Tony Seiwell, PA Manufacturers Association President Dave Taylor, Consumer Energy Alliance Mid Atlantic Executive Director Mike Butler, New Jersey Business & Industry Association Vice President of Government Affairs Ray Cantor, and Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Interim Acting Consumer Advocate Christine Maloni Hoover.
The hearing was streamed live at https://environmental.pasenategop.com/.
CONTACT: Nick Troutman