Washington County Chamber of Commerce Fall Series Takeaways

The Washington County Chamber of Commerce, one of PEIA’s four original founders more than five years ago, hosted its regular “The Morning Briefing: Fall Series” today, featuring state Sens. Camera Bartolotta (R-Washington) and John Blake (D-Lackawanna), co-chairs of the Oil & Gas Caucus in the Pennsylvania Senate. Chamber President Jeff Kotula moderated the event.

In the briefing, the senators discussed how natural gas is positively affecting communities in Washington County, as well as the entire commonwealth. Among the points both senators touched on were the importance of the bipartisan caucus, keeping residents informed about oil and gas development, where drilling stands today, and the ongoing debate over the RGGI initiative.

Learning and listening is very important to the caucus. Bartolotta noted that prior to the caucus, she scheduled many different oil drilling tours. She showed legislators around well sites that were preparing to drill, in the midst of drilling, and post-drilling. She felt that it was important to give hands-on experience to people who may not know about the drilling sites.

Some people believe that the gas industry does not pay its fair share. Bartolotta said this is false information and noted that the Pennsylvania gas industry pays a lot in taxes, both through corporate taxes and impact fees. In addition, the industry provides thousands of middle-class jobs, and those jobs support local communities.

Barolotta also touched on the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative. RGGI is the first mandatory market-based program in the United States. Pennsylvania is the only energy producer in this initiative. “They want to tax Pennsylvania on carbon emissions, which would destroy what is left of our economy. Gas, oil, and coal will be our rescuers from this disaster,” Bartolotta said.

Both senators lamented that people remain against gas pipelines, even though studies show it to be the safest way to transport natural gas. Both senators agree that there needs to be more conversations about these issues, and they remain committed to working with residents to ensure they have all the facts.