As a group of trade organizations that collectively represent the largest natural gas producing region in the country comprising an operational footprint of Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia, Kentucky and Virginia, our member companies employ hundreds of thousands directly and indirectly and contribute billions to our region’s economy. 

Ryan Watts

Our goal is to provide the critical feedstock necessary to create jobs, rebuild our economy, power and heat our homes and provide the petrochemical building blocks necessary for manufacturing virtually all of the products Americans rely on daily. In the process, we commit to continuing to operate in an environmentally responsible fashion while significantly contributing to the reduction of the American economy’s carbon footprint.

We recognize and appreciate the president’s commitment to addressing global climate change, and our industry’s commitment to reducing our environmental footprint is equally as strong. The continued growth in the use of natural gas nationally has led to the 30-year low in total energy-related CO2 emissions the country is experiencing.

We have significant concerns as to how the president’s plans will impact the hundreds of thousands of Americans who work in, rely on or benefit from the Appalachian shale energy industry. Even more alarming may be the harm we believe measures the administration has already taken, and are contemplating, may ultimately and negatively exact on all Americans and our position in the global economy.

Implementing policies that hinder natural gas and oil development will result in far more than the decline of another industry and the millions of paychecks it provides nationally. These policies will negatively impact the quality of life of all Americans and reverse the significant geopolitical benefits of being the world’s top energy producer.

As the president works to implement his agenda, we ask that he consider the vital role our energy-producing states play in meeting the demand for affordable electricity and consumer products and the impact some policies would have on the hard-working men and women our thousands of member companies employ.

Natural gas generates nearly 40% of the electricity powering this county, providing safe, clean, reliable baseload power to all energy consumers. The development of our assets right here in Appalachia has led to the United States’ transition from a net importer to a net exporter of natural gas. The continued reduced reliance on foreign sources of energy better positions our country to play a key role in reducing emissions globally.

Along with heat and power generation, natural gas is a critical feedstock for manufacturing. In Pennsylvania alone, the construction of an ethane cracker facility is currently underway, supporting over 6,000 onsite construction jobs. Once operational, the facility will produce feedstock to produce plastic and chemical components that make up almost every product Americans use such as phones, personal protective equipment, and home goods. 

It is critical that we preserve and expand our region’s and the nation’s pipeline infrastructure so we can maximize the benefits of our gas, oil and liquids production for all Americans. These projects not only transport these resources safely and reliably to processing facilities and new markets but are massive job creators as well.

As the nation and the world responds to the COVID-19 global pandemic, natural gas and related by-products have been integral to the production of medical equipment, medications and newly emerging vaccines that are helping to save the lives of tens of thousands of our fellow citizens.

President Joe Biden has specifically pointed to the benefits of the domestic manufacturing of solar panels and wind turbines for the transition to a cleaner energy future. This cannot be accomplished without the enormous amounts of petrochemicals the natural gas and oil industry produce. These petrochemicals are the foundational components to the construction of wind turbines and solar panels. Their construction cannot be done in a globally competitive market without the low-cost fuel source natural gas offers to those manufacturers.

The growth in natural gas usage is helping to meet the nation’s carbon reduction objectives while also supplying the on-demand power requirements to scale up wind and solar energy.

We hope the administration recognizes and considers the vital role of the Appalachian and U.S. shale energy industries as they craft energy, climate and economic policy. Working together, we commit to accomplishing our shared objective of mitigating the harmful effects of global climate change in a responsible and strategic fashion.

Ryan Watts, of Frankfort, is executive director of Kentucky Oil & Gas Association. This column was also signed by David Callahan, president of Marcellus Shale Coalition; Dan Weaver, president of Pennsylvania Independent Oil & Gas Association; Matthew Hammond, president of Ohio Oil & Gas Association; Charlie Burd, executive director of Gas & Oil Association of West Virginia; and Lawton Mullins, president of Virginia Oil & Gas Association. They can be emailed at bryan@browncomm.com

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