President Donald Trump outlined key priorities during his first address to a joint session of Congress, which focused heavily on jobs, energy, manufacturing, pipeline infrastructure and competitive trade. As the president made clear, private-sector job creation and economic growth are fostered when government encourages investment, innovation and free enterprise.
Mr. Trump’s electoral victory in Pennsylvania reflects how deeply our citizens care about these important issues. The president’s priorities should give confidence to folks across the country, including in Pennsylvania, who are looking for stable, family-sustaining jobs.
With a renewed commitment from Washington to promote American energy production and manufacturing, which go hand in hand, Pennsylvania is poised to capitalize on these opportunities.
Energy development and pipeline infrastructure can empower us to compete and win in the 21st century. This will lead to a resurgence in manufacturing. Natural gas can fuel our manufacturing facilities, and its byproducts can be used in a variety of American-made products. Constructing these facilities will require significant work from our outstanding trades workforce.
There’s no question that our manufacturing sector and communities across the commonwealth have faced challenges over the years.
At the height of the steel industry’s collapse in the early 1980s, the greater Pittsburgh region’s unemployment rate neared 20 percent. In Beaver County, the figure was closer to 30 percent. More recently, we’ve seen a reduction of nearly 300,000 manufacturing jobs across the state since 2000.
Expanding the region’s natural gas infrastructure can revitalize our manufacturing sector, which has struggled for far too long. In fact, our manufacturing potential is bright.
We’re seeing these benefits realized at Shell’s Beaver County petrochemical facility, made possible in part by the Resource Manufacturing Tax Credit, as well as at Sunoco Logistics’ Delaware County natural gas liquids processing facility.
These two projects alone represent billions of dollars in capital investment, along with thousands of good-paying local jobs. What’s more, projects like these create additional downstream manufacturing opportunities.
This week, I met with leaders from Covestro, one of the world’s largest polymer producers, which operates near Pittsburgh. The group included the company’s North America president, Jerry MacCleary, as well as Jay Timmons, CEO of the National Association of Manufacturers.
In a May 2016 report titled “Energizing Manufacturing, Natural Gas and Economic Growth,” Mr. MacCleary said that “affordable and abundant supplies of natural gas present U.S. manufacturers with an energy advantage.”
Mr. Trump has pledged to deliver at the federal level, but each state controls much of its own destiny. To fully realize our potential, Pennsylvania must create an economic climate that welcomes private investment.
The Keystone Energy Enhancement Act, a bipartisan bill aimed at creating family-sustaining jobs and encouraging investment within Pennsylvania’s natural gas, manufacturing and petrochemical industries, is one solution to advance these goals.
We must hold off additional regulatory and tax burdens and reduce and reform existing ones. To succeed and win, Pennsylvania must create that kind of pro-growth environment.
It’s also necessary to ensure that quality career and technical education programs are widely available for the next generation to step into good-paying jobs.
We have a skilled workforce, affordable natural gas, innovative technologies, access to key markets and leading educational institutions. Taken together, along with expanding the region’s energy and manufacturing base, Pennsylvania has the opportunity to create long-term, broad-based economic benefits that lift up every family.
Rep. Mike Turzai, R-Marshall, is speaker of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives.