For many, Labor Day is an excuse to spend the long weekend travelling or hosting a get together to celebrate the traditional end to the summer. The intent of the weekend is to celebrate workers and the history of the labor movement in the US. Pennsylvania has historically been a place that supported unions and their members. With a manufacturing and energy-rich economy, Pennsylvania industries have produced jobs that provided workers a living wage and benefits for decades.
Labor Day weekend was a time to celebrate the history of the labor movement in Pennsylvania, but also a time to celebrate current industry in the commonwealth as PEIA member and Business Manager for the Boilermakers Local 13 did with this piece in the Delco Times.
Guest Column: Labor Day ‘energized’ by investments in infrastructure
PUBLISHED: September 7, 2021 at 2:11 a.m. | UPDATED: September 7, 2021 at 4:53 a.m.
By John Bland
Business Manager/Secretary Treasurer, Boilermakers Local 13
Pennsylvania’s ascent among natural gas producers nationally has provided an economic boost to the commonwealth, especially for the skilled tradesmen and women who work in the sector. Continued investments in pipeline infrastructure to support the industry means even more opportunities in the future.
But it’s not just the economy that benefits. Pipelines are critical to the fight against climate change.
With the safe, efficient transport of natural gas through pipelines to wider markets, electric sector-related emissions greatly decreased since 2005 as natural gas production and use has increased. This has led to cleaner air across the commonwealth. Greenhouse gas emissions in 2019 (after accounting for sequestration from the land sector) were 13 percent below 2005 levels, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
Going beyond fewer carbon emissions, natural gas production has led to a decline in volatile organic compounds. These harmful compounds tied to power generation declined 40 percent between 2005-18, and other pollutants like sulfur oxides (SOX) and nitrogen oxide (NOX) saw their level drop 93 percent and 81 percent, respectively, according to Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection data.
In other words, we can continue to be an economic and climate leader by embracing responsible natural gas production, infrastructure, and use.
To be sure we stay on the path of cutting more emissions while also providing reliable, affordable energy to our nation, Pennsylvania must bolster its critical energy infrastructure, namely pipelines. Far too many constraints remain for getting fuels to market. If we want a cleaner future, then we must make the necessary investments in pipelines and other energy infrastructure to help get us there.
Pennsylvania pipeline projects, including Mariner East, Penn East and Atlantic Sunrise, as well as the revitalization of the Marcus Hook Industrial Complex, are all investments that are necessary to ensure these resources are transported safely and responsibly and in the most environmentally sound manner.
All of these projects also have been a lifeline for Pennsylvania’s construction trades, where trained union men and women are leading the development, working in their communities and benefitting from family sustaining jobs. These local investments pay dividends.
As head of Boilermakers Local 13 here in the Philadelphia region, I know firsthand the value of good-paying, energy-related jobs. I see them every day. These pipeline projects and related assets provide the livelihood our members and their families depend on.
For many, Labor Day is less about work and more about having time off. It’s a day to travel with family and friends or to fire up the grill and celebrate the final long weekend of summer.
For those of us in the labor movement, however, this weekend is a time to celebrate progress made for workers over the years — and to celebrate the new opportunities we have because of Pennsylvania’s vast energy resources.
While the prospect of Washington fully passing a national infrastructure package would be huge for our future, we also must acknowledge the investments being made right here and right now in Pennsylvania, thanks to our burgeoning natural gas industry, which has helped to grow and sustain our economy and work force for more than a decade.
The demand for energy isn’t diminishing. Neither is our need to for good jobs and continued growth. So this Labor Day, let’s celebrate the hardworking men and women who got us here and who continue ply their trade each and every day to ensure the fuels we need to power our modern way of life are delivered safely and responsibly to every corner of our commonwealth — now and in the future.