Last week, PA Chamber Director of Government Affairs Kevin Sunday was a featured testifier at a U.S. Senate Finance Committee hearing that delved into the federal Tax Code’s role in energy and environmental policy. The hearing was convened in part to examine proposed increases to the federal corporate rate, instating a global minimum alternative tax and raising taxes on provisions of the Tax Code that apply to the oil and gas industry, including intangible drilling costs and percentage depletion – all which if instituted would be detrimental to the state’s competitiveness and the success of its energy economy.
Sunday’s testimony emphasized Pennsylvania’s successful leveraging of the state’s historic leadership positions in energy and industry through competitive markets to produce electricity, natural gas and a host of goods and commodities in an increasingly affordable and sustainable manner. He encouraged the federal government to follow Pennsylvania’s example in embracing a diverse energy portfolio as a way to grow the economy, ensure national energy independence and lower overall emissions.
Pennsylvania ranks second nationally in total energy production, second in natural gas production, second in installed nuclear capacity, third in coal production, third in electricity production and eighth in manufacturing output. As a result of Pennsylvania’s energy leadership, greenhouse gas emissions across the PJM grid have decreased 34 percent, consumer energy prices are at generational lows and the average household gas utility bills have seen as much as a 56 percent reduction.
During his testimony, Sunday cautioned against implementing policy that brackets energy resources into either mandates or bans. He further noted how allowing for private sector innovation has already led to the achievement of emission reduction goals outlined in the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan, which set a series of benchmarks to be achieved by 2030.
“Traditional energy resources can be paired in innovative ways with new technology to create new markets and support vital existing industries,” he stated. “Continued investment into both electric and gas infrastructure is necessary to meeting energy and climate goals.”
Sunday’s testimony also highlighted the positive impacts of the federal Tax Cuts and Jobs Act and ensuing federal regulatory reform on the Commonwealth’s economy and jobs market, with the addition of 238,000 jobs and a 13.5 percent increase in average wages statewide. However, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, Pennsylvania has lost 10 years of job growth with fewer people working in Pennsylvania since 2011. Sunday noted that tax increases and burdensome regulatory policies at the federal level will further hinder the state and nation’s economic recovery.
Highlights from Sunday’s testimony can be found on the PA Chamber’s Twitter feed.