Pa.’s natural gas industry is powering the economy and leading on climate change | Opinion

December 27, 2020 6:30 am

By Stephanie Catarino Wissman

In a recent editorial, “Pa. doesn’t have to choose between good jobs and a healthy environment,” Clean Air Council’s Executive Director, Joseph Otis Minott, suggests that a majority of workers and voters support practical steps to protect the environment and promote jobs.

The results of the November election, as well as recent polling, show just that. Voters value environmental progress and the economic growth and stability that the natural gas industry provides Pennsylvania.

A poll conducted by Morning Consult last summer found that six in 10 Pennsylvania voters were more likely to vote for a candidate who supports access to natural gas and oil produced in the U.S. Furthermore, 92 percent believe maintaining affordable energy and gasoline prices is important, while 58 percent believe the natural gas and oil industry have an important role in helping the economy recover from economic impact of the coronavirus crisis. 

In addition to energizing our economy, the natural gas industry provides cleaner energy for the power grid. 

Natural gas use for electricity generation has increased over 270 percent between 2007 and 2017, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, helping Pennsylvania cut power sector carbon emissions by nearly 40 percent over the same time period.

Industry actions have also led to lower methane emissions. Between 2011 through 2019, methane emission rates decreased by nearly 70 percent across five of the largest-producing regions across the U.S., even as natural gas production in those areas tripled during that time.

To build on this progress, a coalition of energy-producing companies, ranging from the smallest to the largest operating across the U.S., formed The Environmental Partnership in 2017. Since its launch, the Partnership, which has grown from 26 to 80 participants in Pennsylvania and other top-producing states, has inspected millions of infrastructure components, implemented innovative programs and surveyed more than 87,000 production sites just in 2019. 

Pennsylvania’s natural gas industry also has spurred strong economic growth.

According to the Public Utility Commission, close to $2 billion in impact fee revenue from natural gas production has gone to the state for distribution to communities for road and bridge repairs, environmental programs, public safety and other critical projects. The industry also supports nearly a half a million jobs, as reported by PricewaterhouseCoopers.

Pennsylvanians don’t have to choose between good jobs and climate solutions. We can do both.

Stephanie Catarino Wissman, The American Petroleum Institute-PA

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