By Rep. Joshua Kail (R-Beaver/Washington)
Western Pennsylvania is second to none. We have an excellent environment to raise families, tremendous traditions and a wonderful community, as well as great sports teams.
Unfortunately, during the past four decades, many of our families have been spread across the country due to economic decline. As of late, however, new industries and businesses are moving into our neighborhoods and beginning a revitalization we have dreamed of since the days the steel industry left us.
The crown jewel of new job growth in western Pennsylvania has been energy. In Beaver County, Shell Oil has invested more than $6 billion dollars to build the world’s newest petrochemical “cracker” plant. Right now, more than 5,000 (soon to be 6,500) trades men and women are making a great wage working on this single project. Oil and gas production and services are making our region one of the top suppliers and producers of energy in a country that is now the world’s leading exporter of petroleum and natural gas. This is fantastic news for our region and our economy. But, if we do not focus on leveraging this great asset, we will miss our opportunity to truly see generational, family-sustaining jobs stay in the area.
That is why the House Republicans’ Energize PA bill package is critical for growth, economic development and job creation in Pennsylvania. The legislation responsibly cuts red tape and consolidates bureaucracy in Harrisburg so that we can compete with our neighboring states.
In particular, my bill, the Keystone Energy Enhancement Act (KEEA), provides tax credits to companies which 1. come to Pennsylvania and use natural gas or its down-stream product in manufacturing; 2. redevelop an old manufacturing site (many of which are currently environmentally hazardous); and 3. use local labor forces in the development of the plants.
This legislation, which has bipartisan support, is a win-win for Pennsylvanians. Properties which are otherwise undevelopable – and many of which are environmentally hazardous – can become assets to our community while ensuring that our local labor forces are put to work. Our region is at a critical crossroads, and we must work to continue creating an environment that allows us to offer what surrounding states cannot.
Previously, our Legislature and the governor worked together to provide a package that would incentivize Shell to choose Western Pennsylvania as its location for the new state-of-the-art petrochemical facility. Pennsylvania competed directly with our neighboring states and worked together in a bipartisan fashion to create a package that lead to our selection. While this was a tremendous accomplishment, it was only the first step.
To set fire to this spark, we need to continue creating an environment that incentivizes downstream manufacturers and businesses that depend on natural gas production. We are still in competition with our neighboring states. If Ohio or West Virginia outpace us, we will lose out on billions of dollars, thousands of jobs and priceless revitalization for our communities. We need to market Pennsylvania and our region.
Manufacturing is the next phase of the energy revolution in Pennsylvania, and we must act to secure its coming. I grew up in a large family with six siblings. Many of my siblings left western Pennsylvania due to lack of opportunity. I have six children myself, and my wife and I desire a day when they and their peers can use their God-given talents to their fullest potential right here in western Pennsylvania. If we do not act now, we will miss our opportunity.
Representative Joshua Kail
15th Legislative District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Media Contact: Alison Evans