Column: Why is natural gas infrastructure so important?

September 6, 2016


In a Labor Day editorial, David Spigelmyer, president of the Marcellus Shale Coalition, and James Kunz, business manager for International Union of Operating Engineers Local 66, discuss pipeline projects like PennEast, and answer the question of, why is natural gas infrastructure so important for the commonwealth?

The Safest Way to Transport Energy

“Natural gas pipelines — which Pennsylvania’s hardworking and highly skilled building trade union members safely construct — are the cornerstone to realizing shale’s economic and environmental benefits. What’s more, this infrastructure is unquestionably the safest way to transport energy, as 99.999 percent of crude oil and petroleum products delivered by pipeline reach their destination safely, according to a new report.”

An Economic Shot In the Arm

“Providing an economic shot in the arm when we needed it most, the historic energy revolution that took off right across Appalachia is breathing much-needed life into union halls and creating new opportunities for local laborers who are well-trained and take enormous pride in the work they’re privileged to do. This game-changing opportunity — enabled by strong, sustainable natural gas production — is helping to spur new apprentice programs to train the next generation of skilled workers to build future shale-driven manufacturing and pipeline infrastructure projects.

And as the industry continues to mature, demand for a nimble, ready-to-execute local labor force is growing.

What’s playing out before us right now represents a classic American success, or turnaround, story — and it’s one that we should all be proud of and grateful for.

For hardworking, middle-class families throughout the commonwealth, pipelines are delivering significant energy savings that give strained household budgets a little extra, and much-needed, room. America’s emergence as a global energy production leader has helped lower the cost of living and reduce household energy costs by as much as 25 percent for homes relying on natural gas, according to recent federal data.”

Growing the Economy, Improving our Environment

“With natural gas, we no longer are forced to choose between growing our economy or improving our environment. Thankfully, we can have both. As Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Patrick McDonnell recently said, Pennsylvania’s air quality “continues to improve,” reflecting the benefits of producing and using more clean-burning natural gas that’s safely developed right here at home. These significant air-quality benefits are being realized at the national level, too, as America has reduced its carbon emissions more than any other nation, thanks in large part to greater natural gas production and its use in electric power generation.”

A More Prosperous Future

“Safely developing and modernizing Pennsylvania’s natural gas infrastructure network — made possible by local laborers and an industry that shares the commitment for a more prosperous future — will ensure that our air will continue to improve, that job opportunities will be there for those seeking work and that our nation will further reduce its dependence on unstable and often unfriendly regions of the world to meet our growing energy demands.”

Spigelmyer and Kunz conclude with, “This Labor Day, let’s celebrate this unique partnership and commit to growing Pennsylvania’s economy by making certain this progress is set into motion and is generating jobs for future generations.”

Read the full editorial on