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Pennsylvania set to outline natural resources

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Saturday, Feb. 23, 2013, 8:26 p.m.
 

HARRISBURG — One of the top 2013 goals of Gov. Tom Corbett's energy advisor is to develop a plan that outlines the state's wealth of natural resources and Corbett's desire to make Pennsylvania the nation's “energy capital.”

“Gov. Corbett often talks about Pennsylvania being the ‘energy capital' of the nation,'” said energy adviser Patrick Henderson. “The governor's energy plan plays to a significant strength of the commonwealth: articulating how our abundant and diverse energy resources and first-rate workforce is translating into increased competitiveness for all businesses, savings for consumers, and strengthening our national energy independence.”

That encourages industry executives.

“Over the last few years, Pennsylvania has sent a message: We welcome opportunity in a manner that benefits all. We are and can continue to be the envy of the nation,” said Matt Pitzarella, spokesman for Range Resources Corp., a natural gas driller with offices in Cecil and wells in Western Pennsylvania.

“Pennsylvania is poised to capitalize on natural gas, not only nationally, but internationally, by facilitating natural resources, entrepreneurism, community and sound policy,” Pitzarella said.

As the plan comes together, two senators are working on legislation to make natural gas more available to Pennsylvanians.

The Pennsylvania Natural Gas Expansion and Development Initiative would promote low-cost, Pennsylvania-produced gas. It would encourage “anchor users,” such as schools and hospitals, to convert to natural gas.

“The abundant natural gas reserves found in the Marcellus shale formation represent an incredible growth opportunity for our state,” said Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi, R-Delaware County.

The Center for Rural Pennsylvania reports only 51 percent of Pennsylvania homes are heated with natural gas. Expanding that number is “critically important” to providing consumers with the best energy value, said Sen. Gene Yaw, R-Williamsport.

The Governor's Manufacturing Advisory Council recommended last year that the state develop a “road map” for energy independence and competitiveness critical to growth in manufacturing.

Corbett's plan will be a “snapshot” of Pennsylvania's energy resources, Henderson said, that begins with a fundamental question: “What do we have and where is it?” He could not put a timetable on putting the energy plan in place.

The state's policies, clearly articulated, would help companies in decision-making, Henderson said. That may range from taxation to the quality of the workforce.

Brad Bumsted is the state Capitol reporter for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 717-787-1405 or bbumsted@tribweb.com.

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