The Daily Press
Red tape skyrockets energy costs in Pennsylvania
(The Center Square) – Red tape still holds Pennsylvania back from cutting energy costs, natural gas advocates said Monday, even as the economic pain inflicted by higher prices grows worse every day. For prices to fall, experts told the House Republican Policy Committee that removing barriers to production is “key.” David Callahan, president of the Marcellus Shale Coalition, said bureaucracy still stands in the way of the economic growth necessary to make that happen.
“We need pipelines to facilitate more production, and the lack of pipelines is holding back production,” he said. “We need to provide that precise operating environment, a predictable operating environment … but we need to look at all the things the industry goes through … and see where those hurdles and impediments are.”
He pointed to the state's cumbersome natural gas permitting process, which makes it harder for companies to strike new wells. Permitting also varies by region. When companies apply for a permit in north-central Pennsylvania, the timeline is relatively predictable, but much less so in southwestern Pennsylvania, Callahan said.
The Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has a permit decision guarantee policy in place to make the timeline more predictable, but “in reality, the policy is not adhered to,” he added.
“One of the most critical challenges to this expansion is the inability to acquire operating permits in a predictable timeframe,” Callahan said. “Pennsylvania's process to review and approve required permits is entirely unpredictable and unnecessarily time-consuming.”
Gov. Josh Shapiro signed an executive order Wednesday to expedite licenses and permits of all sorts across state agencies, as The Center Square previously reported, but it's too early to say whether permitting decisions will speed up as a result, or whether the policy will have little effect in addressing complaints.
In November, the Center Square reported natural gas prices had hit levels not seen for more than a decade, causing a disparate spike in electric bills across the state.