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Turzai: Thanks for the layoffs, Wolf

Tell us how you really feel about Wolf’s energy policies, Mike.

In a strongly-worded commentary during Shale Insight, a natural gas convention in Philidelphia, State Representative Mike Turzai sourced the energy industry layoffs in part to Gov. Tom Wolf’s proposed severance tax.

According to a Pittsburgh Business Times report, Turzai said in a panel discussion that the mass shedding of natural gas jobs are “directly attributed to [Wolf’s] tax policy, regulatory policy, and the world economy.”

The policy to which Turzai refers would place a 5 percent severance tax on gas with an additional 4.7 cents for every thousand cubic feet.

Despite Turzai’s condemnation of Wolfe’s “unbelievably unreasonable approach toward regulatory compliance,” Marcellus Shale Coalition President and fellow panelist David Spigelmeyer was hesitant to name Wolfe as the sole culprit.

“We’re a bit of a victim of our own success,” Spigelmeyer said.

Plummeting global oil prices, along with the commonwealth’s natural gas glut, compelled companies like Chevron and Range Resources to tighten their belts and downsize their personnel.

A vocal supporter of Pennsylvania’s energy industry, Turzai urged the state to stand with Pennsylvania’s energy industry rather than against it.

“We all like things in the oven, showers, hot towels, and [with natural gas drilling] we have an opportunity in Pennsylvania for energy independence and private sector jobs that people are proud about,” he said. “Why are we being apologists? Why are we not being advocates? Why are we not telling this great story?”

More pipelines for ‘Energy Hub’

Discussions at the conference also emphasized the natural gas industry’s push to build more pipelines. By expanding the state’s pipeline infrastructure, industry leaders believe the state can forge an “energy hub” in Philidelphia.

UGI Corp. CEO John Walsh predicted the pipeline expansion could span two decades but would “ensure continuous access to low-cost energy. Officials also said the energy hub would rekindle the region’s economy by attracting manufacturers with cheap gas.

Despite the optimism surrounding the energy hub, State Impact reported shaky commitment from investors and potential customers.

“It’s a chicken and egg problem,” PECO Senior Vice President and CFO Phillip Barnett said during a panel discussion. “How do you get the energy users there if they don’t have the supply, and how to get the suppliers there if they don’t have the demand?”

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