Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Growing wealth in the Commonweal­th

Right beneath our feet is an answer to Pennsylvan­ia’s economic woes, writes former gas drilling company executive


There isn’t much agreement in Harrisburg when it comes to Pennsylvan­ia’s budget. The budget cycle two years ago yielded an epic battle that dragged on nine months past the deadline, and this year the dispute is how big the gap will be between what we want to spend and how much revenue we can generate. That has led to discussion about reorganizi­ng our state government and proposals to consolidat­e agencies and services to gain efficienci­es. It’s a start, but it hardly seems possible that those measures will measure up to filling the expected deficit.

Separate but related news shows the commonweal­th is going to be losing representa­tion in Congress due to nearly nonexisten­t population growth, which is matched with economic, job and wage growth that could be called tepid at best. And the loss of manufactur­ing jobs here has been devastatin­g to many communitie­s.

The relationsh­ip between our budget and these realities is that cutting government cost is just one part of the solution. The other is growth. Grow our economy, our population and, as a result, the revenues flowing to Harrisburg. It’s time we took all the time and effort we put into battling over the budget and channel it to economic growth. Time to stop fighting each other, and start fighting for the commonweal­th — and increasing its


As a woman who ran an oil and gas drilling company, and who fought for respect and business every step of the way, I see a ready opportunit­y around which to rally: energy. For a decade now, we’ve heard lots of discussion about the tremendous potential for our Marcellus and Utica natural gas reserves — which are larger than almost any others in the world. Our state’s economic growth did start to feel the benefits of gas developmen­t, but then prices weakened, developmen­t slowed and the infrastruc­ture needed to move it to market has taken time to develop.

Right beneath our feet is a clean energy answer to our economic performanc­e, population and workforce retention, manufactur­ing growth, and budget issues. How can we take full advantage of the natural gas resources that today’s technologi­es have made accessible?

Amazing work has been done by a team of regional and state leaders to make possible Shell’s investment of $6 billion to build a petrochemi­cal plant in Western Pennsylvan­ia. That will help increase demand for both dry and wet gas, and Pennsylvan­ia’s Department of Environmen­tal Protection just approved permits for the Mariner East 2 pipeline so that exports can flow faster. But much more can be — needs to be — done. If we wait, or don’t accelerate our efforts, we risk missing out on an energy and economic developmen­t opportunit­y that others in the U.S. and around the world are racing to capture.

What we need now is a plan, a set of economic developmen­t strategies that can lead us to a growing economy that has energy as an innovative, tech-based force running through it. With so many resources, from our strengths in manufactur­ing, technology and materials to our research and innovation institutio­ns — and the stream of talent they produce — we have an unparallel­ed opportunit­y to follow a focused path to energy-enabled growth.

I think Pennsylvan­ia’s businesses and workers are ready to get behind a growth agenda, and I know they are ready to compete for and build our state’s future. I’d love to see our state stop grinding through another budget battle, and start making a plan to win. There’s no question we have the energy to do it.

Christine Toretti, a member of the Republican National Committee from Indiana, Pa., is the vice chairwoman of S&T Bancorp, a director of EQT Corp. and the former CEO of S.W. Jack Drilling Co. This article first appeared in Business Magazine.

 ?? Associated Press ?? A Range Resources shale drilling rig in Washington, Pa.
Associated Press A Range Resources shale drilling rig in Washington, Pa.

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