By John Galandak, President, Commerce and Industry Association of New Jersey
Among the issues of concern voiced by members of the Commerce and Industry Association of New Jersey (CIANJ), unpredictable energy prices are high on the list. Whether it’s a manufacturer, professional services provider or neighborhood shopkeeper, these local employers are affected by energy costs.
Stable supply is crucial to energy production, which is why New Jersey’s four major energy companies with utilities servicing millions of New Jersey customers have all established long-term capacity contracts for natural gas in a pipeline that has yet to be approved or constructed. This move speaks volumes about the demand for access to clean-burning, affordable, and locally produced natural gas from the Marcellus region of Pennsylvania to New Jersey.
The $1 billion, 118-mile, underground PennEast Pipeline project will drive meaningful economic activity in New Jersey that simply cannot be ignored: thousands of jobs for our region and hundreds of millions of dollars annually in lower energy costs for New Jersey energy consumers. Equally important, electricity generated by clean-burning natural gas will achieve cleaner air for our region.
Numerous business and labor groups across New Jersey, including the CIANJ of which I serve as president, recognize the importance of a more abundant energy supply and reduced costs to our overall economy.
More disposable income in the pockets of New Jersey families is a no-brainer, and the reliability and redundancy of our energy infrastructure is critical to our long-term growth. But the ability for businesses to cut costs and reinvest those savings into growing their business, adding jobs, or purchasing new equipment, is a major boost to not only attract new businesses, but keep the ones here that are looking to move their facilities and their jobs to other states.
It’s no accident New Jersey residents paid less for natural gas in 2013 than they did in 2008. This is due in part to the shale gas revolution that has decreased America’s dependence on foreign-owned energy supplies. That’s a big deal. The affordability and reliability of energy supplies to which natural gas pipelines are an integral element also play a major role when companies decide where to locate new manufacturing facilities or expand existing ones. The project will help fuel a New Jersey manufacturing renaissance and also improve our economy and lead to the creation of jobs.
Thousands of miles of natural gas transmission lines already crisscross New Jersey without us even knowing. Countless connections to approximately 70 percent of homes in New Jersey safely transport natural gas every day from wells in other states to your stove, hot water heater, and furnace. PennEast is no different in its ability to safely move natural gas to the markets that need it here in New Jersey.
While some opponents falsely accuse it of destroying the environment, nearly a dozen state, federal and bi-state agencies will review environmental permits specifically to minimize its environmental impact.
We cannot lose sight of the overall need to make New Jersey more affordable, and demand for affordable, abundant and clean-burning natural gas is growing every year. PennEast Pipeline can play a critical role in lowering energy rates for residents and businesses alike. CIANJ fully supports its approval and construction. It’s time to get New Jersey moving again.