Coterra recently welcomed U.S. Senator Pat Toomey to northeast Pennsylvania. He toured the Lackawanna College School of Petroleum and Natural Gas in Tunkhannock. We also facilitated a round table discussion. This is part of our energy education series by which we invite elected officials to our area to discuss the benefits of American Energy.
In the wake of the federal government’s pledge to boost exportation of natural gas to European allies, Sen. Toomey said that he was there to hear first-hand the obstacles faced by producers in meeting that challenge and others. Toomey acknowledged the importance of the natural gas industry to Pennsylvania. He highlighted direct and indirect jobs and lowering of CO2 emissions. He heard repeatedly from our panelists that companies in the area could double production if the infrastructure existed to move it to market.
“It makes your head explode to know that you are sitting on one of the largest natural gas deposits in the world,” Toomey remarked, calling the current federal government “hostile” to fossil fuel production. “We always knew that it was a good idea to have our allies consuming American natural gas rather than relying on Russia.”
The round table discussion touched on getting natural gas to New England, which has previously relied on the import of Russian gas. Panelists pointed to New York state as one of the biggest impediments to energy security. They added that New England would otherwise be able to work their way through federal regulations. Toomey said that he’d like to see a federal regulation that would prevent a single state from standing in the way of national interests. “That’s how the constitution is set up,” he remarked.
Infrastructure, permitting issues, and stigma aside, a challenge faced by almost everyone in attendance is a shortage of qualified workers to fill positions. Chad Gorman, operations manager at GasSearch Drilling Services, and Matt Austin, president and CEO of Holcombe Energy Resource, reported that each company consistently has 40 or more job openings.
School of PNG program director Sue Gumble told Toomey that, even when enrollment returns to pre-pandemic levels, the school could not supply enough workers to meet local demands.
After leaving Tunkhannock, Toomey took to Twitter, responding to a newly released inflation figure of 8.5 percent. “This must be a wake-up call for the White House,” he wrote. “Stop making things worse with bad energy policy and let the market work. Restart the Keystone pipeline, expedite natural gas pipeline and LNG facility approvals, and repeal restrictions on U.S. oil and gas production.”
We appreciate the Senator taking a larger role in voicing his support for the industry and know that he has already taken our concerns back to Washington.