The second day of the Nemacolin Energy Institute’s 3rd Annual Shale Energy Conference is starting off as inspirational as the first day ended. I continue to be impressed with the quality of thinking and vision of the industry leaders and elected officials managing the growth of the shale energy industry.
The program included a bipartisan paneldiscussions on the benefits and challenges of developing the shale energy resource. On the panel were U.S. Congressman Mark Critz (PA-12),U.S. Congressman Tim Murphy (PA-18), and U.S. Congressman Bill Shuster (PA-9). Key points made by the panel included:
- Shale energy offers a meaningful opportunity for our nation to achieve energy independence.
- Exporting natural gas represents an opportunity to help improve our economy and support our allies.
- One key challenge is the question of state versus federal regulation. The panel’s belief was that states are capable of regulating the industry and ensuring public safety.
- The primary focus of regulation is environmentally friendly development of the shale energy industry.
- Developiment of the shale energy industry is hard to oppose when considered as a matter of national security. It is hard to see American service men and women paying a significant price to protect our nation’s energy sources and standing the way of responsible development of the shale energy industry.
- To date the impact of the shale energy development has been the creation of jobs and the return of a positive morale to communities that have been economically challenged.
- We do need a national energy policy. We need to know what our national assets are and how to properly manage them. The revenue generated from a comprehensive energy plan could be leveraged to rebuild ou nation’s infrastructure and springboard our economy into a new level of growth.
- National energy policy should not mandate sources. The policy should ensure incentives are in place to responsibly develop our energy resources. The creation of a supporting infrastructure should be a priority.
After the panel discussion, the Honorable Michael Krancer (Secretary of Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection) spoke about the regulatory experience in Pennsylvania in regulating energy source development. He emphasized that we can have economic development, energy, environment and equity (affordability). We need and can have all four.
He also emphasized that we need to have a national energy policy if for no other reason than national security. It is important to our economy. We are on a threshold of a new industrial revolution because of technological advances that allow access to an immense supply of new energy resources. But, states need to regulate the development rather than the federal government. Pennsylvania has a proven track record of regulating the energy industry and is quite capable of regulating shale energy.
Development of the shale energy industry will help reinvigorate the petrochemical industry in our nation. It will produce price competitive feedstock for many industries and create a significant number of good jobs capable of supporting families.
EPA is doing a big study on hydronic fracturing. They will be reporting the findings over a four year period. The devil will be in the details and the results will need to be read carefully. It will be important to ensure identified risks are evaluated in context.
Secretary Krancer advised that a key to making the right decisions is education and discussion. Fact based decision making will ensure responsible development. The industry can play a key role in ensuring communists understand the industry and the benefits locally and nationally.
The program ended with a talk by The Honorable Earl Ray Tomblin (Governor of West Virginia). He emphasized the value of the shale energy industry in West Virginia and the benefits it has already delivered. The industry is expected to help strengthen the economy of West Virginia, Pennsylvania and Ohio – and ultimately our nation. The Governor reaffirmed the commitment of West Virginia to the responsible development of the shale energy industry.
I was impressed with the discussion I heard. I was also impressed with the commitment of both industry leaders and elected officials to collaborate and safely develop this industry. Based on what I’ve heard at this Conference, I am optimistic about the energy future of our country and the opportunity of achieving energy independence.
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