July 22, 2015
By Dennis L. Martire, Vice President and Mid-Atlantic Regional Manager of the
Laborers' International Union of North America
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania – Across Pennsylvania, development of the shale industry has become a new economic engine for our state, supporting energy infrastructure projects that have brought new opportunity to thousands of residents, and increased the energy independence of our entire country. Increasingly, new pipeline projects are delivering both short-term employment benefits from construction, and long-term economic benefits from increased access to affordable natural gas and natural gas liquids.
These new projects generate the kind of jobs that put our state back to work – good family-wage jobs that represent the economic future for many communities across Pennsylvania. For the more than 25,000 members of the Laborers' International Union of North America in Pennsylvania, and thousands of other workers across our state, these projects are not just pipelines. They are also a lifeline to family-supporting jobs.
LIUNA members are involved in many aspects of the production and transmission of natural gas liquids. Last year, LIUNA members in Pennsylvania worked over 2.4 million hours on pipeline construction and maintenance. All told, we worked more than 15 million hours safely building pipelines across the United States last year.
We know these pipelines, such as the Mariner East 2 project, will bring immense new economic activity to our state. That project alone is estimated to have a total economic impact of more than $4 billion, creating more than 30,000 direct and indirect jobs, including more than 13,000 jobs during construction.
The Mariner East 2 pipeline will meet or exceed all required safety guidelines and be constructed in accordance with state and federal standards. Construction will include state-of-the-art X-ray inspection of every weld that joins the sections of each pipe together.
Members of our trade take pride in doing this work. We have been trained to do it right, and we know how to build and leave behind a site better than the way we found it. We live in these communities too, and we are committed to building pipelines with minimal disruption or impact to landowners.
We also know that these projects will generate significant new tax revenues for our state, as well as new economic activity for local hotels, local restaurants, and local businesses.
Speaking of taxes, Gov. Tom Wolf's proposed natural gas severance tax proposal has been the subject of much discussion and debate. LIUNA is a committed partner with the shale industry and we believe we need policies that support this new and growing industry. Only sound governmental policies will encourage the industry to continue to invest and produce at consistent levels that are vital to local communities, and which create long-term middle-class job opportunities. We also understand the severe budget challenges facing Pennsylvania, as the state seeks ways to fund quality schools and vital transportation projects, and secure pension funding for hard-working state residents.
Contrary to some media reports, our union is not necessarily opposed to any new tax whatsoever on natural gas production. We do, however, have significant concerns about any new natural gas tax that could have a negative impact on employment in the industry. We have already seen a reduction in pipeline man-hours over the past two years related to falling natural gas prices. If we excessively tax the shale industry, we risk hurting employers, workers and communities across the state.
People often refer to construction jobs as temporary, but that's the nature of the business. One job finishes, and you move on to the next project. The building trades still provide a great living for millions of workers. Mariner East 2 is exactly the sort of project, funded entirely with private money, that supports working families with good wages, quality benefits and a promising future.
The working men and women of LIUNA are eager to put our skills and training to work safely building our energy future. Let's keep Pennsylvania moving forward!