Speaker, Local Leaders Push for Philadelphia Energy Hub
6/11/2015
Experts see Pennsylvania at critical decision point

PHILADELPHIA – Speaker of the House Mike Turzai (R-Allegheny) hosted an energy roundtable today at the Marcus Hook Industrial Complex that focused on building Philadelphia into a global energy hub.

Joined by the Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry; members of Vets4Energy, a group of volunteer veterans who continue to serve America as advocates for energy policies to sustain our national security; members of organized labor; and state and local business leaders, Turzai and more than 20 members of the Pennsylvania General Assembly, natural gas industry leaders and national security experts talked about how the natural gas industry has benefited them, and how they were concerned that Gov. Tom Wolf’s proposed severance tax would stop any growth dead in its tracks.

Leaders also discussed employment ramifications from imposing additional taxes on national gas as is proposed by Wolf.

“We have an outstanding chance to develop the Greater Philadelphia region into a global energy hub while helping our nation gain energy independence from countries that clearly do not have our best interests in mind,” said Turzai. “The governor’s proposal is really a de facto moratorium that will kill jobs and any chance for that vision to become a reality for Pennsylvania families and workers.”

The event was attended by Pennsylvania Chamber President and CEO Gene Barr and Braskem America CEO Fernando Musa.

“The natural gas industry has revolutionized the Commonwealth’s economy, helping to create hundreds of thousands of jobs, lowering energy costs for consumers and adding billions of dollars to the state’s economy,” Barr said. “However, proposals to enact additional taxes on this industry threaten our competitive edge in the shale play and hurt our ability to become a world-class energy hub. We need to look at ways to expand the industry and develop much-needed infrastructure to get natural gas to market, which will lead to increased job opportunities in the state, as well as economic growth.”

“Braskem is committed to growing its business in North America, and the benefits of shale gas to Southeastern Pennsylvania are innumerable. This region has the opportunity to become a major player in this new industrial revolution,” said Musa. “We are evaluating both expanding our asset base and potentially building our next polypropylene plant in Marcus Hook. The benefits from shale gas and the potential resources that may become available in this area make this a real possibility.”

By broadening responsible natural gas development polices, experts say it would transform Pennsylvania into a global energy hub overflowing with high-paying jobs.

More than 249,000 Pennsylvania jobs are currently tied to Marcellus Shale and related industries.

“We have been far too apologetic in telling the real story,” said Turzai. “Pennsylvania can realize our full potential if legislators reduce the tax burden on Pennsylvania families and job creators, cut regulatory barriers that inhibit job growth and drive entrepreneurs to other states, and expand opportunities for new industry sectors to come into places like Philadelphia.”

In 2012, the American Chemical Council studied the potential impact natural gas could have on employment and found a staggering 1.1 million family-sustaining downstream jobs were available around the industry in construction, 980,000 potential jobs revolved around the supply chain and 200,000 manufacturing jobs were waiting to be filled.

“With the best freight rail connections in the Northeast operating in the backyard of the nation’s largest population center, a skilled and ready workforce, plenty of land to build new manufacturing plants, and an underutilized and highly capable port, Philadelphia is poised to take on the demand,” said Turzai.

“But it’s common sense that 2.2 million jobs downstream that could turn Philadelphia into a great global energy hub cannot be created if the supply is killed upstream,” Turzai said. “Unfortunately, the governor’s approach on a severance tax is punitive in nature and threatens to severely hurt hard-working Pennsylvania laborers, negatively impact family-sustaining jobs and shut down production and downstream benefits for the Southeast.”

According to the Independent Fiscal Office, Wolf’s plan would create the highest effective natural gas taxes in the nation, a punishing measure that threatens the future of Pennsylvania’s fledgling energy industry.

Currently, Wolf has proposed dramatically expanding taxes on natural gas drillers, including a 5 percent severance tax in addition to a 4.7 cents per 1000 cubic feet (mcf) surcharge. The proposal also assumes a punitive/artificial price floor of $2.97/mcf.

“In our budget discussions, one of the biggest questions we need to answer is whether we are interested in growing government and taxes or growing jobs and the economy,” said Turzai. “We want to be No. 1 in job growth, not No. 1 in taxes.”

Representative Mike Turzai
The Speaker
28th District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives

Media Contact: Jay Ostrich
717.772.9943 (office), 717.649.6547 (cell)
jostrich@pahousegop.com
RepTurzai.com / facebook.com/RepTurzai / @RepTurzai
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