It’s time to build

May 18, 2017
Jim McNutt/Observer-Reporter Exterior of the Observer-Reporter building in Washington.

Building out and modernizing our region’s and the nation’s infrastructure is a critical goal that’s broadly supported by voters across the political spectrum. To bring focus to this important national issue, Infrastructure Week events and other efforts are taking place across the country this week.

Regionally, infrastructure development is a clear winner for Pennsylvania. According to a recent report from the ICF consulting firm, U.S. energy infrastructure development could create more than 1 million new American jobs by 2035. In Pennsylvania, two critical energy projects, Mariner East II and PennEast, are projected to support more than 25,000 good-paying local jobs, including many for our region’s building trades union members.

To meet these growing demands, local unions are expanding their apprenticeship programs to prepare workers for energy careers. As International Union of Operating Engineers Local 66 business manager Jim Kunz recently said, energy development is “good for our members (and) for the region.”

At the same time, infrastructure is enabling a manufacturing revitalization for Pennsylvania families and workers. We’re seeing this at the Shell petrochemical facility in Beaver County. And there’s more opportunity on the horizon. In fact, a new IHS Markit report, commissioned by the administration of Gov. Tom Wolf, highlighted these opportunities, noting that Pennsylvania’s abundant energy resources could transform the commonwealth into a petrochemical manufacturing hub.

With the right regulatory and tax policies, given our world-class natural gas resources and workforce, the commonwealth has the potential to attract investment, create jobs, and fully realize a bright and promising future. For these reasons, and many more, it’s time to build.

Erica Clayton Wright

Pittsburgh

Clayton Wright is the vice president of communications and membership for the Marcellus Shale Coalition.

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