Future game plan for gas industry: Focus on reason
As chairman of the Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee, state Sen. Gene Yaw, a Loyalsock Township Republican, has had a front row seat to watch the evolution of the natural gas industry in Pennsylvania over the past decade.
So his observations last week at the Pennsylvania College of Technology Center for Energy and the Future Speaker Series are illuminating.
What did those observations tell us is necessary for the best handling of the gas industry in the future to make it beneficial for all parties concerned?
“I don’t see how we can survive without it,” Yaw said of the industry. But he also said the industry needs to take its own steps forward. He said too many homes don’t have access to natural gas and more pipelines are needed to get it to market.
The state is second only to Texas in natural gas production, but distribution remains a shortcoming.
But Yaw pointed to production plants opened in the region in recent years and advances in other parts of the state as evidence that some of the problem is being solved.
The senator noted that the impact fee from natural gas production has resulted in $1.2 billion in revenue for the state since 2012, with $240 million of it returned to his senatorial district. That’s a good thing.
Nevertheless, he said a natural gas severance tax based on production is certainly worth consideration. State Rep. Garth Everett, a Muncy Republican, is on record favoring a reasonable gas severance tax.
With that tax consideration needs to come an even better climate in the state that takes advantage of natural gas and other energy resources in Pennsylvania, according to the senator.
And while improved methods of extraction have resulted in quicker use of rigs for drilling and a more ecologically friendly industry, Yaw commented that respect for the environment needs to remain part of the production equation for the industry.
In other words, the future of the natural gas industry in Pennsylvania depends on reason – taxing with restraint, a production-friendly regulatory process that also respects the environment, and a push to get more distribution of natural gas to home owners.
That sounds like a reasoned game plan that helps the industry while also helping the state and its residents.