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Natural Gas is Important to Virginia

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The U.S. Labor Department announced that Virginia added nearly 5,000 jobs in August. We’ve added almost 50,000 new jobs over the last year. One reason for this is Virginia’s commitment to expanding our energy resources. U.S. natural gas exploration and distribution has helped transform both our nation’s and Virginia’s economy. The current two pipelines being built through Virginia to Hampton Roads and North Carolina will help our state and local economies as well as improve our environment since natural gas is cleaner than burning coal.
The natural gas industry has created jobs and put money into the pockets of our state residents. Some of the men and women who work in the industry have college degrees, but many don’t. This industry offers many family-sustaining jobs for high school graduates and those with associate degrees.
The natural gas industry pays $7 billion in wages to Virginians annually, and, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, oil and gas industry workers earned an average of more than $100,000 in 2015. With rapidly declining national and state jobless rates, and an increasing demand for cleaner energy, the need for natural gas workers will likely increase. This could mean that there will likely be even higher wages for those who work in Virginia’s expanding energy industry.
Supporting the expansion of natural gas use in our state simply makes economic sense for our families and will likely improve our environment as well.
And let’s look at other advantages of natural gas. It allows Americans to pay some of the lowest energy costs in the world, and Virginia consumers have found significant savings by switching to natural gas. The average household can save more than $1,300 annually on their home heating costs by switching from propane to natural gas and about $800 to switch from heating oil to natural gas. According to the Economic Policy Institute, the average family of four in Roanoke pays nearly $846 month in housing costs. A savings of $70 to $100 a month helps these families pay for other basic needs.
The natural gas industry also contributes $12 billion annually to our state’s economy. Companies within the industry and their employees pay hundreds of millions in taxes to our towns and cities helping to pay for public schools, law enforcement, welfare programs and more.
Natural gas is one of the cleanest sources of energy in the world. It can be transported underground and does not need to be transported by diesel-powered 18-wheelers. In fact, as natural gas production has increased in the United States, our greenhouse gas emissions have fallen. And unlike other sources of clean energy, such as water, solar, or wind, this energy source is available to Virginians on demand. The recent storms have made it clear how important energy reliability is to our households, hospitals, and nursing homes.
Our public officials should continue to explore and facilitate renewable energy development, but natural gas, because of its availability, reliability and cost effectiveness, should continue to be an important part of our energy mix.
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