Abundant, Appalachian-made fuel is there for the taking, but it will require rolling back some state and federal regulatory policies to obtain it.
By Dave Callahan, Charlie Burd, and Rob Brundrett
Getting our economy back on track, protecting our environment and generating a renewed “Made-in-America” spirit are areas of common ground among Americans – no matter political affiliation or home state. And key to achieving these shared goals is domestic, affordable and clean energy.
As the country’s most sustainable and abundant source of natural gas, President Biden should look to the Appalachian Basin for energy solutions as he gives his State of the Union Address.
Pennsylvania, Ohio, and West Virginia sit atop the Marcellus and Utica shale plays, two of the most prolific natural gas bearing rock formations in the world. Producers here supply roughly one-third of all U.S. natural gas production while playing a key role in our country and global emission reductions.
As Appalachia’s production increased 13% between 2018-2020, independent third party benchmarking data shows greenhouse gas emissions intensity from the industry declined 20%.
While this region leads in energy production, environmental progress and sustaining careers close to home, certain policies and a challenging federal regulatory environment has hindered our ability to continue to grow.
Infrastructure development – including pipelines and export terminals – are necessary to safely transport Appalachian-produced energy across our country and the world. But the current regulatory environment, in addition to both physical and legal blockades, chokes our region’s ability to compete and contribute to energy security both here and abroad.
As energy research analysts recently warned, pipeline issues in the Marcellus “threaten to change entire US gas market game” because we’re inadvertently cutting ourselves off from a resource that can be harvested at a low cost. New England states, once again, are forced to import natural gas from foreign nations, because politics have blocked necessary infrastructure growth.
And, moving natural gas to the growing southeast where it’ll be used for clean, reliable power generation, manufacturing and heating homes, continues to be blocked as the Mountain Valley Pipeline, which is 95% constructed, contends with legal delays and regulatory limbo.
These infrastructure capacity challenges, while seemingly local, have significant implications worldwide. If the past year has proven anything, it’s that access to energy is fundamental to human life and keeping people safe. Exports of American natural gas have relieved Europe from Russia’s energy chokehold – let’s expand those opportunities by opening up additional access points along the East Coast.
In addition to predictable permit timeframes and providing a clear path for much needed infrastructure, policies that incentivize manufacturing and other industrial projects to invest in Appalachia should be a top priority.
Our abundant supply of low cost, versatile, clean natural gas gives America the competitive edge over other regions to reshore American manufacturing. In fact, commercial developers estimate manufacturing investment has topped $100 billion in the region because of easy access to affordable Appalachian natural gas.
These investments – like Shell’s petrochemical facility in Pennsylvania, Nucor Steel’s newest project in West Virginia, and developments along southeast Ohio’s energy terminal – are examples of what happens when businesses and lawmakers get it right and prioritize finding solutions to make lasting, positive impacts on our communities and for the environment.
But the pro-growth sentiment starts at the top. We need President Biden and lawmakers in Congress to put politics aside and get to work supporting the continued development and use of this reliable, affordable, Appalachian-made fuel.
Dave Callahan is President of the Pennsylvania-based Marcellus Shale Coalition (MSC). Charlie Burd is Executive Director of the Gas and Oil Association of West Virginia (GO-WV). Rob Brundrett is President of the Ohio Oil and Gas Association (OOGA).
Originally published by RealClearEnergy. Republished with permission.
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