by David N. Taylor, President of PMA
Pennsylvanians are proud to call the Commonwealth, and the community we’ve all helped create, home. Whether that means working hard, long hours, or volunteering in the community, Pennsylvanians are proud of what we do, who we are, and where we are from.
But, in any community, we’re going to have disagreements and conflicting opinions. And that’s understandable. Most recently, we’ve seen conflicts arise from energy and energy infrastructure development in the state.
Given the rapid ascent of Pennsylvania’s natural gas revolution, it should come as no surprise that there have been discussions and at times disagreement about the best way to navigate the path ahead. But in some cases those discussions turn from how best, or how safest, to move forward to how to stop or prevent forward progress. Our organization welcomes constructive discussion from all stakeholders on how best to grow Pennsylvania’s manufacturing sector and the rest of our economy.
When individuals or groups in Pennsylvania seek to prevent growth outright, they lose the right to call themselves stakeholders – they have no stake in the game. And we are going to shine a light on those who want to stop progress in Pennsylvania’s economic growth.
Over the years, citizens have voiced concerns to government leaders about the safety of pipelines in Pennsylvania and the creation of future infrastructure projects. However, some individuals and groups have taken valid questions and turned them into blanket opposition to infrastructure development and economic expansion.
The heart of the problem starts with this question: Who is a reliable source for truthful information?
In a recent meeting, the Pipeline Safety Coalition – a supposedly unbiased, government funded source of information – co-cosponsored an event with the Sierra Club, who unapologetically opposes most energy infrastructure and has countless ongoing campaigns against pipeline projects. At another pipeline awareness event, Lynda Farrell, director of the Pipeline Safety Coalition, encouraged citizens to stand up against an industry that has brought new jobs, affordable energy, and a better economy to Pennsylvania. In fact, she said the following, according to the Lebanon Daily News:
“I know it's been a long haul for you folks, and it may well be a long haul for another year or two, but you're accomplishing a lot.".
But probably the most frustrating fact of this tangled web of obstruction is this: Lynda Farrell has been sponsoring her advocacy campaign with hard-earned tax payer dollars. As reported by InsideSources, Farrell has been the recipient of 20 Technical Assistance Grants (TAG), a program which was created by Congress in 2009 “to provide funding to non-profits and local governments that would act to ‘improve damage prevention, develop new technologies, or otherwise improve pipeline safety’ of natural gas or hazardous liquid pipelines.”
Continuing their argument, InsideSources points out that the law clearly lays out how the grant may be used. Specifically, the funds “may not be used for lobbying, for direct advocacy for or against a pipeline construction or expansion project, or in direct support of litigation.” The article then reveals that Farrell received money from multiple grants, including a TAG grant that was awarded to East Brandywine Township to review Sunoco Logistics’ Mariner East Pipeline. Ironically, Farrell was the point of contact for this grant even though she and her coalition were already seeking to block the Mariner East Pipeline through campaigns and regulatory filings, a fact that puts her in direct violation of the TAG grant program.
The bigger problem with these government-funded activists is they undermine the economic interest of the Commonwealth, especially the manufacturing sector. For some it’s hard to understand the link between pipeline infrastructure and manufacturing, but the two are directly linked. Energy resources are used for countless operations through fuel, but also as feedstock for paint, coating, plastics, foam, glaze, solvent, powdered metal and even for pharmaceuticals. These are products our human hands touch every single day. Pipelines provide the safest, most efficient form of transportation so manufacturers and other businesses across the state can have access to reliable, homegrown energy.
We want to more prosperity for Pennsylvania, and we welcome constructive discussions about how to do that. When groups that call themselves educators take hard-earned taxpayer dollars and use them for their anti-growth agendas, PMA will not let them go unanswered.
It’s time for hardworking Pennsylvanians to recognize the true identity of an overly vocal minority before our communities and businesses suffer the negative impacts.