Speakers highlight progress, potential of Pa. energy sector

//June 20, 2018

Speakers highlight progress, potential of Pa. energy sector

//June 20, 2018

Tom Pyle, president of the Institute for Energy Research and American Energy Alliance based in Washington, D.C., highlighted the Trump administration’s decision to pull out of the Paris Climate Agreement, rescind the Clean Power Plan and repeal 14 federal regulations using the Congressional Review Act, which allows Congress to invalidate rules made by federal agencies. 

“With the right policies in place, Pennsylvania families and communities can continue to enjoy the benefits of increased production without sacrificing their health, their safety or the environment,” Pyle said.

Pyle and Republican state Sen. Scott Martin of Lancaster County spoke on Tuesday at the Pennsylvania Manufacturers’ Association offices in Harrisburg on Pennsylvania’s role in the national and global energy industry.

Pyle, who headed President Donald Trump’s energy transition team after his 2016 election, spoke on the measures the current administration has taken to reduce restrictions on energy production and consumption, claiming the country was in the midst of an “energy renaissance.”

“[Trump] has aggressively pursued an agenda of energy dominance, encouraging states to increase productivity by streamlining infrastructure permitting, getting rid of unnecessary and multiplicative federal regulations and reopening federal lands and waters to energy development,” Pyle said.

Pyle also singled out Susquehanna County, stating that the county produces 24 percent of Pennsylvania’s natural gas, and its wages are 20 percent higher than the national average. According to Pyle, the county has received a $4.6 billion economic stimulus in the last decade due, in part, to new advanced drilling techniques.

Martin credited Pennsylvania’s growing role in energy to the Trump administration, but he also noted where he thinks the state comes up short.

“Despite all the good things that are going on in terms of federal tax reform … Pennsylvania lags,” Martin said. 

Martin stated that Marcellus Shale natural gas production has helped the state by employing hundreds of thousands of Pennsylvanians, and believes that Pennsylvania should follow more closely in the footsteps of states in the Rust Belt.

According to Martin, Rust Belt states have imposed “friendly tax policies” and “friendly permitting,” prompting energy companies to overlook Pennsylvania. Martin also criticized Gov. Tom Wolf’s longstanding effort to impose a severance tax on natural gas drilling, arguing that an impact fee on new wells already does enough damage.

“In 2016 that impact fee raised $173 million, which is more than the severance tax of Ohio, West Virginia, Arkansas and Colorado combined, but we say they don’t do enough here,” Martin said.

In April, Wolf announced Senate Bill 1000 and its companion, House Bill 2253, which would establish a severance tax on Pennsylvania’s natural gas industry. The proposed legislation is forecast to generate $248.7 million in the next fiscal year and would keep the current impact fee in place.

Wolf also issued a statement earlier that month, voicing his disapproval of the Environmental Protection Agency and Trump administration plans to weaken current environmental standards, such as efficiency rules for vehicles.

“The EPA’s plan to weaken fuel economy standards hurts Pennsylvania’s consumers, workers and everyone who wants to breathe cleaner air,” Wolf said. “Rolling back these standards will cost consumers every time they fuel up and is another example of the Trump administration’s disregard for its responsibility to protect the health and safety of American citizens.”