Last week a new coalition was created in support of pipeline development across the Marcellus-Utica region. A Pittsburgh Business Times article announced the formation of the Pennsylvania Energy Infrastructure Alliance. This new coalition is a partnership formed by the Washington County Chamber of Commerce, the Delaware Chamber of Commerce, Laborers International Union of North America, and Local 66 of the International Union of Operating Engineers.
With this announcement added to Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf’s recent creation of a task force to assist gas drillers in building pipelines across the state, we are seeing more and more public support of pipeline development. These announcements could not come at a better time. Opponents of natural gas development have publicly stated their goal to oppose all pipeline construction at the local level, vowing to attend municipal meetings whenever pipeline issues are being considering.
Coalitions are effective in bringing together management and labor to build community support for natural gas development. When a pipeline construction employee attends a public hearing to support a project in their hometown, the employee is heard by local officials. Why?
This worker lives in the municipality. He or she may be raising a family there, sending their children to the local school district, and most importantly, be a local taxpayer. Opponents of natural gas development like to use the ”not in my backyard “or “fracking is bad for the environment” argument. Having a coalition of management and labor speaking out at the local level is very powerful and needed to counter the anti-frackers. By making the argument “local” through introducing citizens who work in the energy field and reside in the community, the anti-fracking groups have a much more difficult time making an argument against pipelines.
The Pennsylvania Energy Infrastructure Alliance is a great idea and I encourage those working directly in the energy industry or indirectly benefitting from natural gas exploration to support these types of coalitions. They represent one of the best available public opportunities to speak up for energy in your community.
By Robert Johnson, President ADKL
Mr. Johnson is a public advocate for natural gas development. He can be reached at or at 412-848-5900. For more information, please go to Robert’s blog at www.adkl.org