Shepstone Management Company, Inc.
The natural gas industry has accomplished so very much, delivering economic and environmental benefits everywhere, but it must be retold.
We talk a lot about how to keep the gas industry moving forward in a COVID economy, including the importance of legislation aimed at attracting new businesses to the Commonwealth, but we began to notice a persistent back story in the dialog. As much as we know that we have the ability to produce the feedstock for petrochemical production while also supplying much of the nation with natural gas, there will always be people who would stop fossil fuel production in its tracks without understanding the adverse economic impacts here and the global environmental impacts if we lose our grip on production to non-regulated nations.
Rep. Jonathan Fritz (Susquehanna/Wayne) is one of many to agree that our nation needs a diverse energy portfolio that includes solar, wind, hydroelectric and coal- and gas-fired electrical generation. “We cannot have a world without fossil fuels,” Jonathan maintains, favoring an ‘all of the above’ approach. “But we are dealing with people on the other side of this who are not reasonable.” Proponents of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) are pushing for Pennsylvania to fall into lock step with 10 other states that assess fees on carbon dioxide emissions with the promise that the funds will be invested in renewable energy resources.
For one thing, we know that science is on our side and that our successes at environmental protection are the envy of other states. It was incumbent upon us to show off our operations to others, including other companies and regulators. As we developed a better understanding that Pennsylvania’s landscape and geology required a new approach, we had an opinion as operators that we needed to move quickly to set a new standard.
“We’ve had very measurable progress, with environmental compliance at 98.3% in 2019,” said Patrick Henderson, current director of Regulatory Affairs for the Marcellus Shale Commission (MSC). “We have cleaner air, and there are significant health benefits derived from air quality improvement. We’re proud as an industry.”
So, why the constant push back? Why don’t we get the credit we deserve? Did we assume that people were reading the reports from DEP, DCNR and other agencies that confirmed our progress and that we could just keep improving without fanfare?
“There were regulations, but more often than not we were getting ahead of them,” Kathryn Klaber, former head of the MSC explained. “But we weren’t always getting the best treatment from the media.” “We need to rebuild a pipeline of minds between those in decision making positions. A lot of them have an environmental bent that is against industry. It is very critical that we bring about that change in culture,” Rep. Fritz reminded us. “This is not an industrial wasteland. It is pristine, beautiful and bucolic. We have some of the best hunting in the world, and the gas industry supports that.”
We’ve made tremendous strides in the industry, and we have to continuously put it out there, or it looks like we are not moving forward. It is time to retell our story.
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