Congressional Natural Gas Caucus co-chairs Reps. Tim Murphy (PA-18) and Dan Boren (OK-02) today convened a congressional hearing focused on the challenges and opportunities for American job growth in the natural gas industry. The Congressional Natural Gas Caucus is a bipartisan group of Members dedicated to championing the use of clean, plentiful, domestic natural gas.
Top industry representatives testified before a bipartisan panel of Republican and Democrat lawmakers about the economic benefits of increased natural gas development for Pennsylvania and the nation. Last year, natural gas development supported one million jobs. By 2015, it could be creating or supporting another half-a-million positions in transportation, power generation, chemicals, and exports. With a stagnant unemployment over 8 percent for the past 41 months, focusing our efforts on increasing domestic energy production is critical to improving the national job market and increasing economic output.
"New drilling techniques have not only unlocked trillions of cubic feet of natural gas, but also limitless potential," said Congressman Murphy. "In Southwestern Pennsylvania, the heart of the Marcellus Shale, I see the benefits everywhere I go -- from the bustling country stores in Greene County to the restaurants in Washington County packed every evening with hundreds of field and office workers employed as surveyors, engineers, and managers. Across the region, small tool and die shops are thriving, farmers are able to buy new tractors, steel mills are humming, and union pipefitters, operating engineers, and tradesmen are finding work constructing new pipelines and wellpads.
Gary Sypolt, CEO of Dominion Energy testified on the importance of selling U.S. natural gas in overseas markets. By allowing producers to share in the global market, Sypolt said the United States can smooth out the "boom-bust' cycle, ultimately leading to sustainably low natural gas prices for home heating, manufacturing, and supply a growing share of our nation's electricity. Sypolt and other witnesses all testified that wellhead prices are too low for sustained exploration. For gas production to continue, liquefied natural gas exports would keep the shale gas market competitive since domestic prices are very low.
Michael Watford, CEO of Ultra Petroleum, testified about the tremendous impact of excessive regulations on natural gas production. "For independent producers, federal government decisions can impact our access to capital, our access to resources and the scope of our nation's regulatory system," said Watford. "Because independent producers derive their revenues from selling produced natural gas and oil, government actions that reduce our investment capital will result in significant reduction in American energy production and the economic machine it fuels."
Doug Matthews, Senior Vice President of Tubular Operations for United States Steel Corporation testified on how the varying cost of natural gas impacts domestic manufacturing costs, and competitiveness in the global economy. "Our customers' needs related to shale development were also a key consideration in our decision to assume operational control of a tubular products facility in McKeesport, Pennsylvania, that had been operated by a third party. Since then, our McKeesport Tubular Operations has added over 50 new jobs."
Other witnesses who testified include:
Frank Billings, Vice-President Eastern region of Williams
John W. Larson, Vice President, Public Sector, IHS Consulting