Safe natural gas pipeline, union workers deserve support

Crews are shown welding a pipeline connecting to a natural gas well in northern Pennsylvania. The Mariner East 2 plan would build two natural gas pipelines across southern Pennsylvania. (Lindsay Lazarski/WHYY

Crews are shown welding a pipeline connecting to a natural gas well in northern Pennsylvania. The Mariner East 2 plan would build two natural gas pipelines across southern Pennsylvania. (Lindsay Lazarski/WHYY

Here in Pennsylvania, we are blessed to be sitting on top of one of the largest reserves of natural gas in the world. The shale revolution has helped our nation produce necessary amounts of natural gas in order to meet our energy needs, and production levels are only expected to increase.

Now, America, with the help of well-trained and experienced union workers, needs to build the infrastructure that is necessary to deliver these resources to residential, commercial, and industrial consumers. Pipelines are needed to bring natural gas liquids, such as propane, ethane, and butane, to our hospitals, schools, power plants, and our homes for everyday use. And they are needed to provide a reliable and affordable feedstock for regional manufacturers.

Pipelines are the safest and most reliable mode to transport energy resources, according to the Pipeline Hazardous Materials Safety Administration. For more than a century, pipeline systems have safely and reliably delivered energy resources to every corner of Pennsylvania and our country, partly thanks to highly trained and skilled workers at the Steamfitters Local 420

Members of Steamfitters Local Union 420 have played a vital role in helping build out our current energy infrastructure. Local 420 has jurisdiction over 10 counties in southeastern Pennsylvania for the installation, maintenance, and repair of large piping systems. We are trained in every step of the pipe-fitting process, including all forms of welding, brazing, soldering, plastic fusion, and all other methods of joining together pipe.

Our training, safety, and accreditation programs are the gold standard for the modern pipeline industry in the United States today.

The United Association of Journeymen and Apprentices of the Plumbing and Pipefitting Industry of the United States and Canada spend $250 million a year in training programs. These efforts involve approximately 300,000 journeymen and apprentices in more than 300 local training facilities. We are career-oriented individuals, proud of our heritage, with superior training, and open to the many opportunities available in our field. We offer good-paying jobs and benefits and are active in our communities in a variety of ways.

As Pennsylvanians, we are also stewards of the environment. Just like everyone else, we want to ensure that our lands and waterways are clean and safe for our children. The protection of people, property, and the environment are top priorities for me and my union members. That’s why our crafts have spent countless hours studying and training the foremost safety standards and practices. We know how to build these projects right — for the environment, our land, and for public safety.

For these reasons and more, we support the Mariner East projects. (A state Department of Environmental Protection hearing on the portion of the project running through the southeast happened on Aug. 10. The DEP has a schedule of additional hearings.) The Mariner East project is critical to the repurposing of the Marcus Hook Industrial Complex, which could help establish the region as the northeast hub for distribution of natural gas liquids to commercial markets domestically and globally.

As a result of this investment by Sunoco Logistics — a company with deep roots right here in Pennsylvania — we will have one of the safest, most advanced systems for natural gas liquids transport in the region.

Union members are trained and ready to build Mariner East 2, and ensure it’s done safely. As residents of Pennsylvania, we welcome the economic benefits, tax revenue, and affordable energy this pipeline will bring to the Commonwealth. This project will be a lifeline to good union jobs with family-supporting pay, and it deserves our support.

Anthony Gallagher is the business manager of Steamfitters Local Union 420 in Philadelphia.

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