It is vital for the nation to live in accord with the oil and natural gas industry, says Nick DeIuliis, president of CONSOL Energy Inc. At Hart’s Developing Unconventional Gas East conference on November 15, 2011, DeIuliis urged the industry to not allow lawmakers and politicians to defame the industry with inflated rhetoric, and cautioned that the energy industry would ignore these issues to its detriment.
DeIuliis’ presentation listed what he termed self-evident truths of the shale-play evolution in the U.S., and stressed the importance of perception’s effects on future regulations.
First, he pointed out that Pittsburgh is arguably the energy capital of the U.S., as it sits on such a diverse natural gas resource base unlike any other in the country. The city has a long, illustrious history as first a coal mining town, and now a natural gas and oil Mecca.
“The most advanced drilling techniques known to man are being applied here in the Marcellus. The Utica shale is blossoming. The most advanced underground coal mining techniques in the world are being used here; midstream infrastructure is being developed right before our eyes,” he said.
Pittsburgh is and always has been the capital of the Appalachian region--and a hub of energy industry activity--and western Pennsylvania has so much more in common socially and economically with upstate New York, West Virginia, eastern Ohio and western Ohio than it does with Washington DC. This is important to consider, DeIuliis points out, when one considers energy opportunity and the follow-on impacts that this will have on jobs.
“Manhattan, DC, and California can talk all day long about the theory and fantasy in terms of energy policy’s effect on jobs. But here in western Pennsylvania, we don’t deal well with theory and fantasy. We never had the luxury, time, or patience. We deal with the reality of making it happen. When someone criticizes these energy industries, they wrongly criticize these great men and women. ”
However, DeIuliis stresses, it’s time for the industry to start walking the walk, and not just talking the talk when it comes to safety and compliance. Companies need to make good on promises made with regard to safety, and economic and environmental sensitivity.
“Talk is cheap, but I assure you if our actions are consistent, these industries are going to thrive. But if the talk is just talk, I can assure you, we are going to fail,” he says. “These professions should be considered inherently serious professions, and they can be performed without serious injury.”
In addition, DeIuliis notes that the fossil fuel industries in this region are creating jobs that are second to none. CONSOL Energy is one such example. People in this industry don’t just make a good wage, they make an awesome wage, he says. Access to electricity is a basic human right, he notes, and it is time to acknowledge the industry’s obligations for what they are. Natural gas and coal make up 75% of today’s power generation market.
DeIuliis stresses that the energy industry is under constant attack, not by reasonable regulation or reasonable oversight, but by political smear campaigns. The industry, he says, needs to take a stand and put a stop to it.
Lastly, DeIuliis concludes, dividing the natural gas industry from the coal industry is counter-productive. The enemies of fossil fuels despise both industries, and it is only a matter of time before both allow themselves to be divided and conquered.
“Acknowledge these truths and address them and the industry will thrive, but ignore them and dismiss them and the industry will fail,” DeIuliis says.
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