A well-maintained, adequately funded infrastructure system is vital to the health and growth of Pennsylvania’s economy. The Commonwealth’s network of ports, waterways, airports, rails, pipelines and public transportation services are the multimodal components necessary for the movement of goods, people and services. In addition, the Commonwealth’s network of water, sewer, stormwater, gas, electric, and telecommunications and broadband infrastructure are necessary to protect the public health, power our economy and allow for the safe, reliable flow of information and ideas. Together, these networks provide accessibility to growth and opportunity. The PA Chamber supports efforts that will reduce regulatory burdens and the time and resources needed to navigate government, as well as eliminate unnecessary costs that impede the ability of the public and private sectors to work together in improving these essential infrastructure networks.
Pennsylvania’s economic future relies on the deployment and expansion of telecommunications and broadband infrastructure throughout the Commonwealth. Our organization supports efforts that reduce regulatory burdens as the public and private sector to work together to provide these 21st century services to consumers.
This includes advocating for further 5G implementation across Pennsylvania – particularly in underserved areas of the Commonwealth that include rural communities. As the PA Chamber has shared in testimony to state lawmakers, it is clear as more and more businesses harness cloud computing, advanced data analytics, automated vehicles, advanced manufacturing capabilities, telemedicine and other innovations that wireless and broadband networks should be modernized to reduce data congestion and ensure reliable data service.
According to studies, the next generation of broadband and wireless technology could enable up to $12.3 trillion in goods and services by 2035 and create thousands of jobs. The deployment of small cells and 5G are critical to this, and so the PA Chamber supports lawmakers addressing what could be barriers to their development. This includes implementing straightforward fixed fee caps; providing more concrete requirements for certain areas where the technology would be deployed and the equipment that is permissible; and timely reviews of applications.
Modern, safe, efficient, and reliable infrastructure systems are a pillar of the PA Chamber’s Legislative Agenda. These systems, from roads and bridges to telecommunications and utilities, provide the basis on which businesses contribute to the commonwealth’s economy and are a critical component to attracting investment and innovation.
Discussions around a federal infrastructure bill are heating up, with both parties taking issue with the process unfolding in the U.S. Senate. As talks continue, the PA Chamber joined a coalition of local chambers, statewide organizations and businesses urging Senators Toomey and Casey to request action on reauthorization of federal funding for surface transportation for roads and bridges, which will expire at the end of September, as well as reforms to environmental review requirements.
On June 29, in one of its final decisions handed down for the term, the U.S. Supreme Court issued its decision in PennEast Pipeline v. New Jersey, a case involving whether New Jersey could deny a right of way on state-owned lands to a federally-permitted pipeline needing construction access. In a win for the project and more broadly for infrastructure development and permitting certainty, the Court ruled 5-4 that the Natural Gas Act authorizes the use of eminent domain to acquire necessary rights-of-way for approved projects.
A well-maintained, adequately funded infrastructure system throughout Pennsylvania is vital to the health and growth of its economy and the surrounding region. The Commonwealth’s network of ports, waterways, airports, rails, pipelines and public transportation services are the multimodal components necessary for the movement of goods, people and services throughout Pennsylvania’s transportation system. In addition, the Commonwealth’s network of water, wastewater, stormwater, gas, electric, and telecommunications and broadband infrastructure are necessary to protect the public health, power our economy and allow for the safe, reliable flow of information and ideas. Together, these networks provide accessibility to growth and opportunity and can serve as a platform to establish Pennsylvania as a leader in innovation.
The PA Chamber supports efforts that will reduce regulatory burdens and the time and resources needed to navigate government, as well as eliminate unnecessary costs that impede the ability of the public and private sectors to work together in improving these essential infrastructure networks.
Airports located in cities across the state connect Pennsylvania’s people and economy to the global economy, with many airports offering international connections. In addition to safely moving people to their business and leisure destinations, airports allow for hundreds of thousands of tons of goods to be shipped quickly and efficiently across Pennsylvania and the world. Airports also serve as central hubs for economic development in their local communities. All of Pennsylvania’s airports, whether international or a local airfield, help drive the local economy, generate billions of dollars in economic benefits and serve as economic engines to their surrounding communities, creating more than $22 billion per year in economic activity for Pennsylvania. The PA Chamber supports well-planned, cost-efficient public-private partnerships to provide various means of transportation, including rapid transit, to airports and key transportation terminals.
Pennsylvania’s three major ports (located in Erie, Pittsburgh and Philadelphia) are situated to take advantage of the state’s waterways and other surface infrastructure, including rail, road and air, to serve local, state, regional and international markets’ ever-increasing shipping, transportation and logistics demands. Pennsylvania’s ports must be ready to compete domestically and abroad, particularly in light of the expansion of the Panama Canal. The PA Chamber supports efforts to obtain the highest return on investment in ports already made by the Commonwealth with multi-modal funding, including policies that provide investment in maintenance, upgrades and improvements necessary to be internationally recognized ports.
Pennsylvania is fifth in the nation in total track mileage and the state leads the nation in the number of operating railroads. Rail helps move more than 170 million tons of cargo in and out of Pennsylvania safely and affordably, allowing manufacturing in Pennsylvania to thrive. The PA Chamber supports efforts to more efficiently improve rail infrastructure in Pennsylvania and opposes efforts to impose state regulations on railroads that are more stringent than federal requirements. The PA Chamber also supports the development of nationally designated high speed corridors that serve Pennsylvania in a balanced manner that does not inhibit the movement of cargo via rail freight.
Water, Wastewater and Stormwater
A safe and reliable network of water, wastewater and stormwater infrastructure is essential for public health and economic development. The PA Chamber supports an adequately funded system of water, wastewater and stormwater infrastructure and supports efforts for state and local governments to work together and with private industry in an innovative manner to reduce system costs. To improve the health, safety and economic development in the Commonwealth, the PA Chamber also supports the following initiatives: removing legislative and regulatory barriers that impede private investment in the Commonwealth’s aged water and wastewater systems; streamlining the permitting and construction of projects to replace infrastructure; encouraging consolidation and regionalization of water, wastewater and stormwater systems where cost-effective and beneficial to ratepayers; and encouraging public-private partnerships between government and private industry.
Electric and Gas
A safe and reliable network of transmission and distribution of electricity and natural gas is vital to both public health and a vibrant economy. The PA Chamber supports a well-maintained grid of powerlines and gas pipelines that allows energy produced in Pennsylvania to reach markets and for Pennsylvania businesses and consumers to take advantage of it. The PA Chamber opposes unnecessary regulatory hurdles and costs and supports efforts to streamline the permitting and construction of these vital projects. The PA Chamber also supports regulatory constructs encouraging the expansion of gas distribution systems to unserved and underserved areas.
Telecommunications & Broadband
Well-maintained telecommunications infrastructure, including wired, wireless and broadband, is crucial to an economy that is increasingly reliant on the secure and efficient transfer of data over a diverse array of networks. The PA Chamber supports efforts that reduce the regulatory burden on broadband and telecommunications networks and that do not impose regulatory burdens on wireless networks and VOIP services beyond existing federal requirements. The PA Chamber supports development and implementation of small cell technology, which supports advanced network and data relay technology such as the most advanced wireless and broadband technology to reduce data network congestion. The PA Chamber also supports innovative public-private partnerships between state and local governments and private industry to allow companies to harness public infrastructure to improve the delivery of data, cell and other broadband services.