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Working toward Pa.'s future

| Sunday, Sept. 3, 2017, 9:00 p.m.
Consol Energy Inc.'s pad No. 2 in Findlay is part of the natural gas development at Pittsburgh International Airport.(Trib Photo)
Jasmine Goldband | Trib Total Media
Consol Energy Inc.'s pad No. 2 in Findlay is part of the natural gas development at Pittsburgh International Airport.(Trib Photo)

Labor Day provides a fitting time to reflect on what can be achieved when Americans work together as a team toward a common goal.

Thanks to the sustained, meaningful partnership between our building trade unions and the natural gas industry, Pennsylvania has established itself as the nation's second-largest natural-gas-producing state.

As we increasingly deliver clean-burning, American natural gas to our nation and the world, the industry is improving lives across the commonwealth by creating more good-paying, family-sustaining jobs, especially for local union workers, while lowering energy costs for consumers and cleaning our air.

In Pennsylvania alone, the natural gas and oil industry support 322,000 jobs that pay nearly $23 billion in wages annually, according to a recent PwC study.

While creating more good-paying local jobs, increased natural gas production also is lowering utility costs for Pennsylvanians. The average American family is saving more than $1,300 a year because natural gas prices have fallen dramatically.

Communities in every Pennsylvania county have seen a new stream of revenue from impact taxes on drilling that have generated $1.2 billion for local projects and state programs.

And the benefits go beyond dollar signs, as we no longer face a choice between economic growth and environmental protection. Because of innovative technologies and safety-focused best practices that the industry and its workers utilize, combined with greater use of clean-burning natural gas, carbon dioxide levels are at a 25-year low and America is a global climate leader.

Work remains to improve and expand the critical network of pipelines and other infrastructure necessary to safely transport natural gas to more Americans and our allies overseas. Again, the industry and its trade union partners are doing this work together.

Pipeline projects are set to bring billions of dollars in investment to the commonwealth while putting tens of thousands of skilled tradespeople to work building our clean-energy future.

The multibillion-dollar Shell ethane cracker project in Beaver County will create at least 6,000 construction jobs over the next few years. Once complete, the facility will employ more than 600 workers and attract additional manufacturers expected to invest further in jobs and construction.

These important and shared successes are delivering more benefits to middle-class families and creating a brighter future for our highly trained workforce. And together, we will work to ensure that we fully maximize our competitive advantage that natural gas development brings to the entire commonwealth.

Burdensome, unnecessary policies and higher energy taxes will shortchange the opportunities that hardworking families deserve. These policies cost jobs, raise energy prices for families and make the commonwealth a less attractive place for companies to grow and hire.

Through sustained collaboration, the natural gas industry and its dedicated workforce are writing a success story. We are committed to ensuring it continues, and that more laborers are working for many, many Labor Days to come.

David Spigelmyer is president of the Marcellus Shale Coalition. James Kunz is business manager for International Union of Operating Engineers Local 66.

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