Local Energy Reserves Grow Pa.’s Economy

From the cracker plant in Beaver County to the Marcus Hook Industrial Complex in southeastern Pennsylvania, new energy infrastructure projects are tapping our local shale formations and delivering benefits all across our commonwealth. And it is paying off.

A newly released study that re-examines the potential economic impact of the Mariner East pipeline, which passes through Washington County, shows the value of this critical infrastructure project is even greater than first anticipated.

The $5 billion project stretches 350 miles across Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Ohio, transporting natural gas liquids developed here to the Marcus Hook plant in Delaware County for refining.

According to Econsult Solutions, projects associated with Mariner East pipelines will generate a one-time economic impact of nearly $9.1 billion in Pennsylvania and support 57,070 jobs during the entire construction period --- the equivalent to 9,520 jobs each year for six years with earnings of $2.7 billion.

Those are stable, family-supporting jobs for workers, including members of the Laborers International Union of North America (LiUNA!), which has more than 25,000 members in Pennsylvania.

The new report, which updates an earlier but similarly impressive economic analysis that was issued in February 2015, further states that the Mariner East projects could generate an estimated $122 million in total to the commonwealth over the length of the construction period.

It is difficult to argue with these numbers. Truly, the revitalization of our region and our entire commonwealth as a thriving energy hub is bringing home jobs and economic returns and the estimates continue to get better with time and development.

So not only is Mariner East 2 fulfilling its promise to be one of the biggest economic opportunities our state has seen in generations, it is powering transformations all along the line’s route.

Mariner East 2 plans distribution points along the line to supply propane for commercial and residential use, a warming thought given this cold winter. The project also is powering a new state-based power plant, Competitive Power Ventures Inc.’s Fairview Energy Center in Jackson Township, Cambria County, that will meet the energy needs of one million Pennsylvania homes.

More recently, Sunoco announced that it is now shipping ethane from Marcus Hook to a specialty gas producer in Texas that used to get its supplies from Europe, meaning we are opening up new domestic markets for the state’s huge shale gas reserves.

Some continue to refuse to accept the realization of local benefits. But the evidence is irrefutable.

As members and founders of the Pennsylvania Energy Infrastructure Alliance, we are acutely aware of how these projects affect our communities and we have been engaged throughout the process. Our members have crisscrossed Pennsylvania to support pipeline projects and promote private investments that will help to build out the state’s infrastructure network.

The fact is that we are not just building a modern energy infrastructure with projects like the Mariner East pipelines. We are giving a huge, sustained boost to our entire commonwealth economy.

Unfortunately, work on the Mariner East project recently was halted by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). But this project remains critically important for our commonwealth, as the Econsult study underscores. It is important for Sunoco and DEP to work expeditiously to get the safe, responsible development of this project back on track.

Natural gas clearly is playing a central role in our economic resurgence as Pennsylvania’s shale reserves now account for about 20 percent of total U.S. natural gas production. Over time, we have seen the integrated development of energy infrastructure projects across upstream, midstream and downstream sectors.

Investments in these projects need to continue and they deserve our support. The projects are setting the stage to ensure Pennsylvania continues to boost its manufacturing, transportation and trade opportunities over the long term. And all along the way, as it is along the pipeline route, the benefits are shared by many.

Jeff Kotula, President, Washington County Chamber of Commerce
Philip Ameris, Western Pennsylvania Laborers (LiUNA!) District Council Business Manager.