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A Tale of Two States

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New York’s Gold Standard is Pennsylvania’s Golden Opportunity Keystone State Can’t Miss Economic Expansion Potential

Jezree Friend is the Manufacturer & Business Association’s senior government relations representative and is responsible for developing legislative priorities and strategies; encouraging membership grassroots activities; and lobbying on behalf of a pro-growth, pro-business agenda. Contact him at jfriend@mbausa.org.

Pennsylvania is the nation’s second largest producer of natural gas. However, now that New York has decided they care more about political talking points and less about economics, jobs and their residents, it’s time to capitalize.

How so? New York lawmakers and their governor turned their backs on their residents when they recently signed the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act. The law requires New York to get 70 percent of its electricity from renewable sources by 2030, 100 percent by 2040, and net zero greenhouse gas emissions economywide by 2050, forcing the state to cut emissions by at least 85 percent below 1990 levels. To clarify, this calls for no fossil fuels to be used in the state by 2050.

This all comes on the heels of the Clean Water Act passed this past spring to prevent construction of interstate natural gas and oil pipelines in New York. As many of those lines would crisscross the state and feed into New England, Governor Cuomo has single-handedly denied New Yorkers a reliable, less expensive, and cleaner source of energy. As a result, liquified natural gas is shipped across the Atlantic from Russia rather than boosting domestic economic output and saving ratepayers a figurative “boat load” of money. New England’s average electric costs have reached the highest average in the 48 contiguous states, and New York electric consumers came in third behind California.

Governor Cuomo has seemed to forget about the residents of New York he has sworn to lead. It has been reported these goals may not be attainable and will certainly lead to even higher energy prices and more job cuts. New York gets around 60 percent of its electricity from carbon- free sources — primarily an energy mix of hydroelectric and nuclear power. To make up the new requirements, the state will invest in large-scale offshore wind farms and solar panels on most residential and public roofs. The Empire Center for Public Policy estimates this to cost $48 billion upfront and $1 billion in annual operating costs. The more challenging task will be to heat homes and commercial buildings, which generally burn natural gas or oil, and take up around a quarter of the state’s emissions. In New York City, for example, an April law requiring large and medium-sized buildings to retrofit to meet new energy standards is expected to cost building owners more than $4 billion.

Higher energy costs and less reliable supplies have increased pressure on an economy that has long been losing workers and businesses to other states. In 2017, the U.S. Census Bureau estimated 167,000 more people moved out of New York to other states than moved in and the state predicts a tax revenue shortage of $2.3 billion, as New Yorkers move to avoid paying the state’s high taxes.

Pennsylvania is often unable to get its abundance of natural gas where it is needed. With businesses looking to escape New York’s burdensome tax and regulatory structure and the state’s call for fossil fuel elimination, Pennsylvania has a golden opportunity to prioritize its rich natural resources and upgrade its infrastructure. If acted upon, Pennsylvania would be the birthplace to a manufacturing revival as it would attract steel, glass, cement, fiberboard, petrochemicals (like the Shell plant) and other energy intensive manufacturing that relies on natural gas. The Commonwealth would then become the standard bearer for economic growth by leading the nation in manufacturing and natural gas distribution