PA Chamber Director of Government Affairs Kevin Sunday appeared last week before the U.S. House Committee on Energy and Commerce’s Subcommittee on Environment and Climate Change and testified to the key role that Pennsylvania plays in national and global energy production, along with the impact that the proposed CLEAN Future Act would have on our diverse energy mix.
Sunday’s wide-ranging testimony highlighted the importance of the continued presence and expansion of the natural gas industry in Pennsylvania. Currently, Pennsylvania ranks No. 2 in the nation in total energy production, natural gas production and installed nuclear capacity; No. 3 in coal production and electricity production; and No. 8 in manufacturing output. Pennsylvania is also the largest net-exporter of electricity of any state and the largest producer on the 13-state PJM grid.
Much of this growth is attributed to the Marcellus Shale, which has led to massive investment in new pipeline, energy and manufacturing infrastructure, and projects like the Shell petrochemical facility in southwest PA. “We have seen natural gas and renewable resources paired together in resilient microgrid projects at the Pittsburgh Regional Airport and the Philadelphia Navy Yard. Combined heat and power projects are helping universities, food manufacturers and hospital systems manage costs and improve sustainability. Manufacturers in PA are underway with projects to use carbon capture and natural gas liquids to produce ammonia and fertilizer,” Sunday said. “Yet air quality has continued to improve dramatically. Pennsylvania is in statewide attainment or very close for all NAAQS. Since 2005, no state but one has reduced CO2 emissions more than PA while energy market prices are at generational lows. This has come through innovation and competition in the private sector … Our state has helped position the United States as a leader in sustainable economic growth, as our nation has outpaced other developed countries in keeping energy prices low while growing the economy and reducing emissions. The private sector is deploying a number of innovative technology and energy solutions to support traditional and emerging industries in a sustainable manner.”
Sunday acknowledged it is reasonable for government regulators to set long-term emissions reduction goals, but warned of the real-world challenges that the energy sector faces today. He expressed support for a more predictable, rational and flexible permitting process that will allow for investment in facilities and a stronger domestic manufacturing base.
“Whether it’s a bridge or a port or a pipeline or an electric line, it takes entirely too long to build any new infrastructure in this country if the project is touched by the National Environmental Policy Act,” Sunday said. “It’s imperative we streamline the federal decision-making process if America is going to have the infrastructure to compete.”
“The PA Chamber encourages lawmakers on both sides of the aisle to come together to produce durable, bipartisan policy that applies the lessons from Pennsylvania’s successful leveraging of our historic leadership positions in energy and industry to produce electricity, natural gas and a host of goods and commodities in an increasingly affordable and sustainable manner, to federal policy that positions America for continued leadership in an increasingly competitive and dynamic global marketplace.”
Regarding the importance of encouraging energy infrastructure buildout, Sunday urged lawmakers to enact regulatory policies that prevent the offshoring of key industries like refining, steel, cement, aggregates and timber. “In closing, our state’s success has helped the United States keep energy costs lower than nearly every developed nation while outpacing them in growth,” Sunday said. “I hope you consider our contributions to this success as you work towards durable, bipartisan and effective policy that keeps the United States in a flagship position in this increasingly challenging and dynamic global marketplace.”