Task Forces Takes Testimony o Expanding Natural Gas to PA Ports

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HARRISBURG—Pennsylvania’s bipartisan Liquid Natural Gas (LNG) Task Force, chaired by Rep. Martina White (R-Philadelphia), met today for the first time to gather information on the best and safest way to increase the export of LNG.

“The state’s rich deposits of natural gas supported nearly 500,000 total jobs across our economy in 2019, generating $78.4 billion toward the state’s gross domestic product, including $40.5 billion added to total labor income,” White said.  “It is critical that we keep this economic engine charging ahead as a benefit for our workforce, and for an environment that needs clean energy.  Our challenge is to find a way to get the state’s natural gas to the ships in our port.”

Because there is an increasing demand from countries without natural gas reserves, the task force focused on how to safely export LNG from Pennsylvania’s ports.

“In the absence of natural gas, the world burns dirtier forms of energy, namely coal,” said Tim Ryan, a former Democrat congressman from Ohio and co-chair of Natural Allies for a Clean Energy Future. “And unless decisionmakers are willing to advance permitting reforms and approve the infrastructure necessary to move natural gas where it’s needed, global carbon reduction becomes harder to achieve.”

Capt. David Cuff, president of the Pilots’ Association for the Bay and River Delaware, testified that their ships and pilots can safely do the job.

“The first-class pilots in our association have an average of over two decades of experience piloting ships on the Delaware Bay and River,” Cuff said. “Over the course of which, they have each safely piloted thousands of large ships, including LPG carriers, petroleum tankers, chemical carriers, container vessels, car carriers and more. The ship-handling skills and local knowledge held by these pilots are second to none in any port in the world.”

In addition, the association’s local pilots are equipped with state-of-the-art technological aids, including personal piloting computers and internet access to real-time weather, tide and other current data.

Lisa Himber, president of the Maritime Exchange for the Delaware River and Bay, testified that expanding LNG exports through southeast Pennsylvania will fuel job creation.

“As this task force knows, Delaware River ports are a huge economic engine for the region,” Himber said. “A study of the exchange commissioned in 2021 found that over 156,000 jobs depend on the port, and over 50,000 of those are directly related. The port is responsible for almost $50 billion annually in total economic activity and nearly $2 billion in state and local taxes. Cargo imports are valued at $155 billion and exports at almost $9 billion.”

The task force also heard testimony on the impact of Pennsylvania’s LNG on the global marketplace.

“Among the many tragic consequences of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is an energy crisis quite unlike anything the world has ever seen,” said Dustin Meyer, vice president, Natural Gas Markets, the American Petroleum Institute. “We believe—and we are far from alone—the European Union’s bold commitment to eliminate its reliance on Russian natural gas represents the biggest fundamental shift global gas markets have ever experienced.”

Meyer added that while the immediate energy crisis has partly receded, European natural gas prices are still double their average and more than quadruple U.S. prices; and there is widespread concern the coming winters will be even more difficult.

“A full, long-term rebalancing of European gas markets will be difficult,” Meyer said. “In the absence of Russian pipeline gas, European LNG imports will need to increase significantly through 2040, even under scenarios in which total European natural gas demand falls precipitously. U.S. LNG is among the most feasible sources of natural gas to replace the magnitude of Russian gas flows.”

“The United States is now not only the world’s largest producer of natural gas, but we are now also, quite remarkably, the world’s largest exporter of LNG,” Meyer said. “This rapid transformation was fundamentally driven by the shale gas revolution, itself the result of relentless industry innovation and smart, consistent public policy. The epicenter of it was, and remains, right here in Pennsylvania.”

Following the hearing, task force members met with U.S. Coast Guard officials in Philadelphia.