– The vast potential of energy and economic opportunity was highlighted at a roundtable discussion with U.S. Department of Energy Under Secretary Mark W. Menezes held by the House Majority Policy Committee at the Beaver County Courthouse in Beaver on Thursday, according to Policy Chairman Donna Oberlander (R-Clarion/Armstrong/Forest).
The conversation, which also included House Speaker Mike Turzai (R-Allegheny) and 10 House members from southwestern Pennsylvania, specifically focused on Marcellus Shale and the Shell Manufacturing Plant, which participants toured after the event.
“Under Secretary Menezes was impressed with the sheer magnitude of energy production in Pennsylvania and the ability to attract the Shell plant, which is currently one of the largest construction sites in the United States,” Oberlander said. “This roundtable was a great opportunity to showcase our resources and industry partners to the under secretary so that he knows Pennsylvania is open to attracting not only national but global companies.”
A thousand unconventional natural gas wells are drilled in an average year in Pennsylvania with most sites hosting multiple wells on a single pad. As a result, Pennsylvania ranks second in the nation on natural gas production but 13th on attracting energy investments, especially in terms of the chemical industry which uses massive amounts of natural gas products to convert into plastics.
“We want to see family sustaining jobs created out of the opportunities provided by the Marcellus Shale,” said Turzai. “In addition to the homegrown energy found within our Commonwealth, the president’s policies have created economic growth that have also made a tremendously positive impact here.”
In terms of consumer energy needs, the Marcellus Shale has led to $13 billion in investment just in Pennsylvania. Thousands of jobs in building trades have also been created, according to the Marcellus Shale Coalition.
Menezes told the committee that he has been part of a national effort working with the European Union to market energy resources, including natural gas. But the infrastructure needs to be in place here in order for those resources to be transported to Europe. The demand also exists here in the United States, especially in New England where consumers have a great need for more affordable natural gas during brutally cold winters.
Most participants in Thursday’s discussion emphasized a cooperation with regulators in order to cut through the bureaucratic red tape that holds up projects. Pennsylvania needs to be known for being open to business but permitting hurdles especially put that at risk.
The event was followed by a tour of the $6 billion Shell Manufacturing Plant construction site in nearby Monaca. The plant will accept ethane from three pipelines from Marcellus Shale fields in Ohio and Pennsylvania and convert that through “cracking” molecules to make ethylene and further polyethylene for plastics.
Menezes’ stop in western Pennsylvania was part of his trip of Appalachia, and was a terrific complement to the Policy Committee’s recent visit to Washington County to tour a drilling site, producing well, compressor station and processing plant in early May.
“We know we are a powerhouse as the Keystone State and already making a difference in our economy overall,” Oberlander concluded. “Under Secretary Menezes’ visit has been wonderful to affirm the good things happening here, but we know that we can do more to improve our regulatory climate and attract even more business and industry to our Commonwealth.”
Policy Committee Chairman Donna Oberlander welcomed U.S. Under Secretary of Energy Mark W. Menezes for a roundtable discussion on energy in Pennsylvania. They were joined by House Speaker Mike Turzai and 10 House members from throughout southwestern Pennsylvania along with energy industry leaders.
Representative Donna Oberlander
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Media Contact: Jennifer Keaton