ShareThis Page

Engineering the expansion of pipeline infrastructure

| Thursday, July 23, 2015, 8:55 p.m.

From mining in Hazleton, to steel in Pittsburgh, to high-tech corridors, Pennsylvania's labor force has been an integral component to growing our state's economy.

A lot of the buildings in our great state were built by the International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE). Now we are applying our skills to our state's next great economic engine, natural gas pipelines.

As a member of this organization, I've watched our members supply trained, qualified workers to help build Pennsylvania's economy. Our organization covers 33 counties in Western Pennsylvania and is made up of over 7,000 members. We take pride in developing Pennsylvania because this is our home.

Pennsylvania sits atop one of the world's largest natural gas reserves. Given the natural resources readily available, we have an opportunity to continue growing our economy. In fact, state jobs in the oil and gas sector last year totaled more than 33,000. But to make the most of those natural resources, Pennsylvania must upgrade existing and build new energy infrastructure to connect our energy resources to consumers and businesses.

For this reason, our organization recently joined the Pennsylvania Energy Infrastructure Alliance, a group that supports developing our energy infrastructure. As pipeline infrastructure continues to grow, opportunities to develop and transport energy resources safely across our state continue to grow our economy.

These types of large-scale infrastructure projects, like the Mariner East projects, create new opportunities, such as the expansion of the Marcus Hook industrial complex. These projects will have a long-term, positive impact on the entire commonwealth.

When the construction phase on Mariner East project ends, there will be 300-400 permanent jobs remaining for decades. And that doesn't include upgrades and replacements either on the pipeline or at Marcus Hook.

Also, these projects will provide critical apprenticeship training, salaries to support families and benefits to the state through payroll taxes. In addition, investment the project will attract as the region is transformed into an East Coast energy hub will deliver new economic growth opportunities.

We recognize that pipeline safety should be part of any pipeline discussion. The Mariner East pipeline will be constructed utilizing the latest in metallurgical advances, state-of-the-art design, construction and maintenance, and the commitment of skilled workers whose families live along the route of the pipeline and in the vicinity of the Marcus Hook facility. In addition, studies have shown that moving natural gas and NGLs through modern pipelines is many times safer than using trucks or rail cars.

The places where we work on these pipelines are also the places we play at parks with our kids and take part in other activities that make up a community. We want to see our neighborhoods grow and thrive, too.

The economic benefits of natural gas in the huge Marcellus and Utica shale formations that have already transformed life in Western Pennsylvania will help ensure the same transformation to Delaware County and Eastern Pennsylvania.

Our organization works hard to make sure we are equipped to safely handle new infrastructure development. So, when opportunities like the Mariner East 2 projects come to town, we are ready to ensure that we can grow our economy by safely building these new developments.

James T. Kunz Jr. is business manager of IUOE Local 66. He lives in Brighton Heights.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.