PA House Speaker Mike Turzai shares his support for Atlantic Sunrise

Speaker of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives Mike Turzai, R-Allegheny, recently penned a column for PennLive voicing his support for the Atlantic Sunrise project.

In his op-ed, “The Atlantic Sunrise pipeline is a path to prosperity for Pa.,” Turzai outlines Pennsylvania’s historic roots in manufacturing:

Pennsylvania has endured structural changes in the bedrock industries of our state’s economy.

However, we have the opportunity to spur economic growth and prosperity for generations to come, and it’s right under our feet.  We suffered mightily with the collapse of the steel industry in the 1980s, and some of our hardest-hit steel towns are still struggling. In fact, the state has shed nearly 300,000 manufacturing jobs over the last 20 years.

Energy development and pipeline infrastructure can empower us to compete and win in the 21st century. This will lead to a resurgence in manufacturing. Natural gas can fuel our manufacturing facilities, and its byproducts can be used in a variety of American-made products.

A lack of takeaway capacity, however, is hindering the economic potential of natural gas to reach markets — a problem, he says, that is compounded by overlapping regulation:

In recent years, the energy industry has been working with governments at all levels and landowners to build the infrastructure we need to get the product to market and, most importantly, put our people back to work.

But increasingly burdensome regulatory steps have stifled infrastructure build-out and stymied the economic growth potential natural gas has to offer.

One of the largest proposed pipeline projects is the nearly $3 billion Atlantic Sunrise project, designed to immediately address pipeline bottlenecks by adding close to 2 billion cubic feet of pipeline takeaway capacity.

This project is a tremendous opportunity for Pennsylvania to show that we are not an obstructionist state for American energy and job creation.

Speaker Turzai urges the Wolf administration to move forward with the project, which received federal approval this year, citing much-needed tax revenue and the project’s expected 8,000 jobs and an estimated $1.6 billion boost in the project area.

There is not a single reason for our own state government to further delay approvals and stand in the way of economic growth and jobs.

Based on tax revenue generation alone, the Wolf administration should support construction of the pipeline.

Construction activities are expected to generate about $16.9 million in additional state taxes and total payroll will be about $501.6 million during the construction phase alone.

Pennsylvanians will benefit from the approval of Atlantic Sunrise, which will span 10 counties from Susquehanna down through Lancaster.

An economic impact analysis conducted by researchers with Penn State University estimates 2,300 people will be employed in those counties during the one-year construction phase, which will support an additional 6,000 indirect jobs in supporting industries. It is estimated this will increase economic activity by $1.6 billion in the project area.

We have a president in Washington who is committed to the production of American sources of energy and to keeping manufacturing within our borders.

Pennsylvania is poised, perhaps unlike at any other time in recent memory, to benefit in every way — new jobs, better wages, reduced energy costs, increased tax revenue and economic prosperity for generations to come.

Pennsylvania state government needs to shed its reputation for standing in the way of energy independence and economic prosperity.

You can read the entire column here.

Williams partnership helps to restore damaged Pennsylvania aquatic habits

More than 10 miles and 30 acres of streamside habitat in southeastern Pennsylvania are being restored, thanks to the efforts of conservation organizations working in partnership with Williams.

Williams is working with six conservation groups to implement nine high-value aquatic management projects in Lancaster, Northumberland and Schuylkill counties. The effort is part of the larger Atlantic Sunrise Environmental Stewardship Program, which includes voluntarily supporting conservation projects that will benefit natural resources and support communities within the Atlantic Sunrise project area.

Here is a video chronicling the success of the aquatic management projects:

 

One unique water quality improvement project was developed by Donegal Trout Unlimited in Lancaster County. According to Conservation Chairman Bob Kutz, Donegal Trout Unlimited was $30,000 short of its fundraising goal before Williams came through.

“We had funding, but that fell through at the last minute,” Kutz said. “Williams entered at the perfect time to help complete the project in one year.”

The project included the removal of debris and invasive species of trees and vines, followed by the installation of extensive erosion control and stream-bank stabilization. Since the project’s completion, Kutz reports that erosion has decreased, brook trout are living in the rebuilt section of the stream and students studying stream ecology tour the site.

“DTU is very appreciate of the Williams grants. They not only helped fund the projects, but they accelerated them,” Kutz said. “We would have been three, four, five years down the road before we would have found additional funding.”

The Atlantic Sunrise Environmental Stewardship Program is supporting 17 conservation projects with more than $2.5 million in funding to support the construction of new trails, to restore wildlife habitat along streams and to prevent thousands of pounds of harmful nutrients from entering waterways.

The Atlantic Sunrise Environmental Stewardship Program is a voluntary program and is not designed to replace traditional compensatory mitigation requirements of state and federal permitting agencies.

Atlantic Sunrise Receives Broad Support from across Pennsylvania

Over 3000 Pennsylvanians sign petition urging Governor Wolf to swiftly approve project

Citizens, community, labor and business leaders from across Pennsylvania are expressing support for Williams Partners’ Atlantic Sunrise expansion – a nearly $3 billion energy infrastructure investment in the continued growth and development of the state’s economy and thousands of jobs for workers.

“Williams’ Atlantic Sunrise project addresses this critical need, allowing us to capitalize on this once-in-a-generation opportunity,” said Pennsylvania Chamber of Business & Industry President Gene Barr. “While the components are there for sustainable economic growth and prosperity, the lack of energy infrastructure to move this clean-burning, low-cost commodity to markets hinders immediate job growth and economic opportunity in our state. The time to build this project is now.”

More than 3,000 petitions urging Governor Wolf to support the Atlantic Sunrise project were delivered to the Capitol.

After receiving a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) in February 2017, Atlantic Sunrise can begin delivering benefits to Pennsylvania once the last remaining state permits necessary to begin construction are secured. Construction on the Central Penn Line (the greenfield portion of the project) is targeted to begin in the 3rd Quarter of 2017, which would allow the full project capacity to be placed into service in mid-2018.

“Pennsylvania is poised, perhaps unlike at any other time in recent memory, to benefit in every way — new jobs, better wages, reduced energy costs, increased tax revenue and economic prosperity for generations to come,” said Pennsylvania Chemical Industry Council President Jeff Logan. “After nearly three years of intense regulatory scrutiny, it is time for our own state government to complete its review of this important infrastructure project so that Pennsylvanians can immediately benefit from the economic growth and jobs it promises to deliver. This includes the chemical industry which supports more than 90,000 direct and related jobs in the Commonwealth.”

In 2015 Pennsylvania State University researchers forecast the Atlantic Sunrise project to directly and indirectly support approximately 8,000 jobs in the 10 Pennsylvania counties during the project’s construction phase, resulting in an estimated $1.6 billion economic impact in the project area.

“Growth in the energy industry can create steady, reliable careers for millions of men and women in our country and in this state,” said Dave Horn, LECET Representative, Mid-Atlantic LIUNA. “More specifically, pipeline work is a life line for good union jobs with family-supporting pay resulting in millions of dollars being reinvested back into the community and local businesses. We work on these projects; we have seen first-hand the economic benefits.”

Recently, a petition signed by more than 3,000 supporters was delivered to Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf requesting swift state regulatory approval of the project. In addition, more than 1,200 people and organizations submitted supportive comments to FERC during the public comment period.

Williams CEO talks Marcellus Shale, PA regs on the record with Central Penn Business Journal

Alan Armstrong — president and CEO of The Williams Companies Inc., the company behind the Atlantic Sunrise pipeline project — recently made a visit to Pennsylvania. Armstrong sat down for an interview with the Central Penn Business Journal as part of his visit to central Pennsylvania. Armstrong talked about existing pipeline systems, PA regulations and the nearly $3 billion Atlantic Sunrise energy infrastructure project.

Alan S. Armstrong, President and CEO of The Williams Companies, talks with the Central Penn Business Journal during a visit to Harrisburg. — (Photo: Central Penn Business Journal | Amy Spangler)

Here’s a portion of the interview:

Q: Tell us about your company and the importance of this project.

A: At Williams, we gather a little over 30 percent of the nation’s gas and handle it, including through long-haul transportation. So we know natural gas pretty well. It’s the core of our business. And the resource base that Pennsylvania is blessed with is not just the lowest cost in the U.S. in terms of basins that have access to markets; it is absolutely the lowest cost in the world.

So, what an opportunity Pennsylvania has to really build its economy around natural gas. Obviously, getting pipelines built and getting the gas to market is key to that. We recognize that the pipeline issue is both new and old to Pennsylvania. The amount of pipelines already in Lancaster County, for instance, would probably impress everybody. We’ve had pipelines here for 40-some years with Williams.

You operate the Transco Pipeline, for example.

Its main business before was transporting gas out of the Gulf of Mexico to our primary markets along the Eastern Seaboard, including Philadelphia, Baltimore, D.C., Atlanta, all of the Carolinas and New York City. In fact, we’re the largest supplier to New York City by a fair margin. So we’ve had pipelines in the eastern part of the state for a lot of years, and we have a big system that goes over to the Leidy (gas) storage in the central part of the state as well.

So Pennsylvania and pipelines are not new, but it’s been a long time since we’ve built out major new systems. Transco, a system that has flowed for over 50 years from the south to the north, now is getting turned around, and Pennsylvania is kind of becoming the Texas that we all thought about from an energy standpoint, because it is the lowest-cost resource.

That’s a major transformation, as Atlantic Sunrise will be for our state. What are some of the challenges of this process?

There is a lot of change that goes along with that – getting people comfortable with that, getting folks to understand it and having real knowledge of it, rather than fear. We’re in an education process right now, letting people know how safely we can do and have done pipelines at Williams, and how dedicated we are to continue to do it safely and in an environmentally friendly way. We’re not looking to cut any corners.

What are your thoughts on the regulation process?

Honestly, we want tough regulation. As a large company, we’re going to do things right anyway. We don’t want there to be easy regulation. We want it tough, and we want it enforced.

The challenge that exists today in this space is that there is so much jurisdictional overlap, between the feds, the states, local rights, townships, so you have multiple people giving you mutually exclusive direction on what needs to be done to get a permit, and it really winds up just wasting money that could be spent on schools, on putting the water systems in. It could be spent on a lot of good things other than going into reroutes and attorneys. Said another way: If it really was producing something, if it really was generating a safer environment, less impact on the environment, we would say, great, it makes sense. But that’s really not what we are getting out of it.

Those are some of the opportunities here in Pennsylvania: to really streamline the permitting process.

If the governor and the Department of Environmental Protection were sitting here right now, what would you say to them?

First of all, Gov. Wolf has been very supportive. It’s very clear that he wants the infrastructure to be built, and he wants it to be done right, and we are completely aligned on that issue. I think the challenge, again, is that there is so much overlap in jurisdiction between the federal requirements and the state requirements.

We are into a major project like Atlantic Sunrise that has already been through the federal permitting process, and we’ve already gotten a certificate from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission for the project, and yet we are still pending with the state permits, which is very unusual. So I would say, “Hey, guys, let’s really streamline this process. We want to do it right.”

How big of an investment does Williams have in shale gas in this region?

To date, in our total Marcellus and Utica investment, I think we have close to $8 billion invested up here. The Atlantic Sunrise project is a $3 billion project, and the majority of that is in Pennsylvania.

How does Atlantic Sunrise fit into your business plan?

Transco was built to flow gas from the south to the north to feed northern markets. Our demand on that system had grown and grown. It was getting really difficult to keep up with the demand on the northern end of our system. And then, lo and behold, the Marcellus Shale shows up and allows us to supply the system from the north and the south. So it really increases dramatically the capacity we have to supply the growing markets that we have along the Eastern Seaboard.

What’s the updated construction timetable for Atlantic Sunrise in Pennsylvania?

We’re focusing on getting final approvals to hopefully start construction in July. We’ve already started construction in all the other states. In Maryland, for example, we’ve already had those permits for quite some time.

Could you foresee a time when gas production in Pennsylvania outstrips all other states?

Easily. That’s not a stretch at all. That would probably take five or six years.

How much gas is under Pennsylvania?

There’s numbers all over the place on that question. I’d have to do the math on that for you, but I think the last number I saw was that the Marcellus and Utica together could supply U.S. demand for up to 40 years, so it’s tremendous how big this resource base is.