State Representative and keynote speaker Kerry Benninghoff (R-171) spoke alongside energy company representatives about energy's role in today's society at 7:30 a.m. on Dec. 10 in the Nittany Lion Inn.
Representatives from Cabot Oil & Gas Corporation, Southwestern Energy, Glenn O. Hawbaker, Inc. and Dawood Engineering, Inc. spoke with Benninghoff at the “Think About Energy Briefing," hosted by the Chamber of Business and Industry of Centre County (CBICC).
Pennsylvania Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman was scheduled to talk at the briefing as well. However, due to personal reasons, he as unable to do so.
This program is the first of an Energy Breakfast Series presented by the CBICC.
Director of external affairs at Cabot Oil & Gas Corporation George Stark introduced the panel — concurrently making his own remarks about how energy and technology play a significant role in the lives of people today.
“We have an opportunity today to have an open dialogue about energy,” Stark said. “Energy drives every one of our lives.”
According to Stark, technology has evolved in the last 10 years, and the key in getting students “excited” about this field of work is to show them how “cutting-edge” technology is now.
He mentioned that it was “critical” to see students at Tuesday's briefing because conversations about energy and technology are what will make students excited about the industry.
“We need to see students here today,” Stark said. “If they take what we hear today, it could stretch to become imperative 10, maybe 20 years from now.”
Stark added many people are unaware of how technologically driven the world is — technology “is the wave of the future,” according to Stark.
Stark said 10 years ago, Susquehanna County didn’t produce natural gas — now, 27 BCF of natural gas is produced in the county. Susquehanna is currently one of the leading counties in the United States in the production of natural gas, according to Stark.
Mike Narcavage, a senior government and community affairs manager from Southwestern Energy, said he believes energy companies can become more environmentally conscious when government officials don’t place strict quotas on carbon emissions and instead introduce regulations to businesses.
“We met the Paris Accord in carbon production, which is great, but if the government starts putting regulations on companies, that gives us a goal to get to,” Narcavage said. “Let us get there on our own.”
In contrast, Lisa Richardson, a volunteer of Citizens Climate Lobby who attended the breakfast, said she believes the government should charge companies that pollute.
“As a volunteer for the State College chapter of Citizens Climate Lobby, we believe putting a price on pollution will reduce emissions by 40 percent in the next 12 years,” Richardson said. “That’s why we support Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act.”
Narcavage also mentioned his company’s production of methane — a strong greenhouse gas — is very low. At a .055 rate, he said the Électricité de France (EDF) recognized the company's accomplishment.
Before Benninghoff spoke to community members, Stark said an effective dialogue needs to be fostered between communities and their officials in office to understand and find solutions to better the usage of energy.
“There is no one who is more committed to the area and to the industry to make sure it’s done right,” Stark said. “You’ve got a heck of an advocate in Harrisburg.”
Technology and energy play vital roles in everyday lives of people all around the world, according to Benninghoff.
However, some take these resources for granted.
“We take things like water and being able to switch on a light for granted,” Benningham said. “We live in a world where we can travel or learn just about anything we want because of technology."
One of the best methods in finding solutions to better use energy is by having a dialogue, according to Benningham.
Additionally, he said government officials need to be proactive and less strict when it comes to building relationships with the community and industries.
“At the end of the day, we need to be excited about this, we need a dialogue,” Benningham said. “As a government official, we need to be partners in these initiatives, but not punitive ones.”
He added there are so many resources, but there needs to be a “different and smarter” solution when it comes to using them — and he said this can be done by “discovering more and more and more.”
Additionally, communities need to know how local energy companies operate, according to Richardson.
“It’s important to understand the local energy landscape,” Richardson said. “We can work together as a community of business, energy producers, citizens and elected officials to take action on climate change.”
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