Steamfitters urge Pennsylvania’s energy development

A worker guides a section of pipe while working on a shale gas pipe line Friday

A worker guides a section of pipe while working on a shale gas pipe line Friday

Even in this hyper-political environment, there is one issue where both parties are in total agreement: Great nations build and invest in great infrastructure.

Look around Pennsylvania and it’s easy to spot infrastructure in an alarming state of disrepair and in urgent need of strong investments that would have a positive effect on the economy. Our highways, railways, airports, and river corridors all could use a boost. Even in the energy sector, thanks to the Marcellus and Utica shales, we produce plenty of it. Yet, we still lack the critical infrastructure to deliver enough of it to market.

Mariner East 2, a pipeline project proposed by Pennsylvania-based Sunoco Logistics, is a perfect example. This project would move energy products from western Pennsylvania to the Marcus Hook Industrial Complex in Delaware County. Despite its need and consumer demand, work on this pipeline is lagging. Most recently, a small group has been pushing local townships to voice opposition through resolutions, potentially forcing further delays.

That’s too bad. In truth, pipelines are the safest way to transport demanded energy to market, providing raw materials to industries that rely upon easy access to energy in order to grow their business. Moreover, energy infrastructure like Mariner East 2 helps keep businesses and industries competitive for years to come.

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The manufacturing industry is already feeling the added benefits to the increase in energy access, as reported by a study commissioned by the National Association of Manufacturers. Specifically, the increase in energy production contributed to 1.4 million jobs in 2015 alone and saves the average American household $1,337 per year. These are opportunities that will spur on economic growth benefitting local communities, businesses, and households.

But the pipeline bottleneck persists, costing us jobs and opportunities.

Think about what you are preventing if you oppose Mariner East 2: The project will contribute to the revitalization of the Delaware Riverfront, while also repurposing the Marcus Hook Industrial Complex and elevating Pennsylvania as a major domestic and international energy exporter. How can we deny these enormous endeavors created by energy development?

Mariner East 2 also will generate $4.2 billion for Pennsylvania’s economy and contribute $62 million in property taxes annually. According to Econsult Solutions, the project will create over 30,000 direct and indirect jobs, including 7,000 during construction phase, many of which will be granted to the devoted and hardworking members of the Steamfitters here in Pennsylvania.

That’s important for anyone concerned about safe, responsible development.

Since the early 1900s, Steamfitters Local 420 has been serving its communities by installing and maintaining mechanical infrastructure needs across Pennsylvania. We’ve worked on the Sun Oil Refineries, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, and the stadiums for the Eagles, Phillies, and Flyers. But arguably, some of our most important projects have been Pennsylvania’s natural gas pipeline distribution systems.

Steamfitters are highly trained and committed to ensuring a safe work environment for those on site and a finished product everyone can take pride in. We work with residents, property owners, and communities in mind — after all, we live here, too — doing our best to minimize impact and disruption whenever possible, while fully complying with the regulations set on the local, state, and federal level.

Natural gas production has grown 50 percent over the past 10 years, making America the world’s top producer of oil and natural gas. These impressive gains, however, can’t be sustained without infrastructure that leads the world. The time to invest in projects like Mariner East 2 is now.

Anthony Gallagher is business manager for Steamfitters Local 420.

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