Earl Baker’s OpEd in PennLive outlines all of the benefits the Marcus Hook Industrial Complex (MHIC) has brought to PA over the years and brings attention to the need for approval of two air permits. Earl Baker is a former commissioner and senator from Southeast Pennsylvania, who has witnessed the energy sector’s impact on Pennsylvania first hand and understands its importance in maintaining PA’s economy.
MHIC has helped reduce the price of energy throughout Pennsylvania, increased the energy sector’s investment in SE PA, increased employment opportunities and therefore, helped the state’s economy thrive. In addition, the energy companies continue to build relationships with the local communities that demonstrate their commitment to not only their projects, but the people of the Commonwealth. But in order for the complex to continue supplying PA with affordable energy and contributing to PA’s economy, the swift approval of two air permits is required.
Read the Full Text Below:
By Earl Baker
Having spent decades in public service, one thing I’ve noticed over the years that has remained consistent despite ever changing demographics, politicians, and times has been the Marcus Hook Industrial Complex (MHIC) and its role as a driver of economic activity in Southeast Pennsylvania.
In our state and regional history, Marcus Hook has evolved to remain at the center of Pennsylvania’s energy industry for well over a century. It started as a crude oil refinery, then a catalytic chemical “cracker,” and now is responsible for processing and storing natural gas liquids produced in Western Pennsylvania and transported through Mariner East pipeline system.
Building out a full energy infrastructure network has been to the benefit of Pennsylvanians. The Consumer Energy Alliance found that $30.5 billion was saved by residents from 2006 to 2016 thanks to drops in natural gas prices; nearly half of those savings were for residential consumers. From my time in Harrisburg I can tell you this is important to everyday families, and my family has appreciated the savings offered by affordable natural gas.
Officials across the commonwealth have worked with regulators to nurture energy development and Marcus Hook is one of the bellwethers of its success. However, regulators can still take the reins and further help produce a positive impact on Pennsylvania’s energy and economic future by approving proposed air permits at Marcus Hook. While Pennsylvanians are doing their part by remaining quarantined until we get past the COVID-19 pandemic, approval of these permits would ensure that work can begin immediately, once we get past this crisis.
Throughout its operation Marcus Hook has been a huge draw for the energy industry, giving confidence to companies interested in building wells out West or mid–stream operations across the state. Marcus Hook is the final piece of commercializing and moving Pennsylvania’s homegrown products to market, making Pennsylvania a full-service energy hub with the trifecta of production, transportation, and direct access to consumers. Moreover, these businesses such as Sunoco (now Energy Transfer), PECO, Valley Energy and others have laid substantial stakes by investing in the commonwealth.
These projects are critical to the commonwealth beyond just the service they provide. These companies and their employees, because they live, work, and are raising their family here in Pennsylvania, make daily contributions to our communities. They sponsor Little League parks, coach soccer teams, support the Special Olympics; they have a deep personal interest to improve our communities just like the rest of us and they do it.
To continue developing Pennsylvania’s complete energy industry it is important that the DEP swiftly review and approve the air permits for Marcus Hook and Mariner East to prevent further delays. As with any upgrade or modification made to either project, safety will be the top priority. This is yet another reason why the project’s operator has hired the best trained, highest skilled craftsman to complete their projects.
Lastly, with the uncertainty brought about by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic it is more important now than ever that investments be made in Pennsylvania. Already private businesses are doing their part by creating jobs and contributing directly to help protect our communities.
Energy Transfer recently made a donation of military-grade glasses that allow paramedics to access a patient’s medical history and take a patient’s temperature without having to come in contact with the patient. This is a state of the art technology and one that is critically beneficial to our medics on the frontlines who are trying to keep our communities and themselves safe during this growing pandemic. More must be done, but this type of company involvement sets an example.
Policy needs vary from time to time, but at this time, regulators can continue to steer the state in the right direction by approving these air permits and setting the stage to put Pennsylvanians back to work when the time is ripe.
Earl Baker is a former three term Commissioner and two term State Senator of Chester County. In the Senate he chaired the Labor and Industry Committee.