Energy policy needs balance

As the second largest energy producer in the United States, Pennsylvania has long seen natural gas and energy production as key parts of the commonwealth’s economy. More than 250,000 Pennsylvanians go to work each day in energy jobs to ensure the region has the electricity to power our businesses, heat our homes, and gas to fuel our cars.

Our region has a legacy of energy production like no other – our oil fields and coal mines fueled the industrial revolution, and our union workers powered the steel mills that made Pittsburgh a global hub of industrial production.

These economic opportunities for working people helped folks like their families out of poverty and drove the creation of the middle class and the modern-day labor movement.

Today, Western Pennsylvania remains an energy leader – and our energy sector is one of our greatest strengths as we look to rebuild our industrial base and attract the jobs and industries that will help our region grow for decades to come. As our nation develops the energy sources of the future – from hydrogen to nuclear – Pennsylvania and its skilled workforce will continue to play a key role.

As we invest in the energy sector, we have to ensure we protect union workers, their families, and our environment.

Gov. Josh Shapiro and CNX Resources, a leading natural gas producer in Pennsylvania, recently came together to do just that. While CNX continues to invest in our region and create jobs, they are also taking important steps to protect Pennsylvanians’ health and safety.

CNX will disclose every chemical they are using in their operations so that Pennsylvanians are aware of what’s being put into our environment. They are also going to conduct transparent air monitoring and post the data online for everyone to access, starting at their well pad in Washington County. CNX intends to expand this monitoring and disclosure across its operations in Pennsylvania.

CNX has also agreed to voluntary setbacks around places like schools and hospitals that go beyond what is currently required.

Agreements like this will help to protect the health and safety of people who work and live in communities with natural gas production. The Allegheny-Fayette Labor family are not just workers, we are members of our communities.

No one wants safety protocols and clean air and water around these production sites more than the people who go to work there every day and raise their families in these communities.

While certain folks will tell you that we can’t have common sense environmental policy and a thriving energy economy, Gov. Shapiro and I know that is a false choice.

We do not need to choose between protecting good paying unions jobs in the energy sector and protecting our environment.

Those two things go hand in hand here in Pennsylvania.

We’re glad Gov. Shapiro believes in our union workers and is finding ways to bring people together to protect lives and livelihoods. His administration is working to keep Pennsylvania an energy leader, fighting to ensure the energy industry stays in Pennsylvania and continues to create jobs here, while also protecting the health and safety of people in Western PA.

Darrin Kelly is president of the Allegheny/Fayette Central Labor Council.


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