Between the frigid temps on the East Coast and unusu­al­ly large snow­fall mixed with record-low temps in Texas this past win­ter, warmer weath­er is welcome.

Through no fault of our own, many of us take the mod­ern dai­ly con­ve­niences for grant­ed as our lives get busier and dis­trac­tions get loud­er. Few Penn­syl­va­ni­ans like­ly woke up this week with thank­ful­ness on their minds for the thou­sands of engi­neers, skilled con­struc­tion work­ers, and oth­ers that have kept our elec­tric­i­ty, stove­tops, and heat func­tion­ing this win­ter, but we should.

Louisiana doesn’t mea­sure up to Penn­syl­va­nia in pro­duc­tion, but the two share own­er­ship of an indi­vid­u­al­ly robust ener­gy econ­o­my that serves the res­i­dents of each respec­tive state, region and the coun­try at large, no mat­ter the conditions.

As the nation’s sec­ond largest nat­ur­al gas pro­duc­ing state, Penn­syl­va­nia has a long way to go to devel­op the need­ed infra­struc­ture to sup­port this indus­try. Pipelines are the safest means to trans­port ener­gy resources, accord­ing to the Pipeline Haz­ardous Mate­ri­als Safe­ty Admin­is­tra­tion. In fact, they are 4.5 times safer than rail, which is a safer option than trans­port by truck. Just recent­ly, a train derail­ment in Texas served as just the lat­est exam­ple of the increased impor­tance of a robust pipeline net­work to ensure these prod­ucts get to the final des­ti­na­tion in the safest way possible.

West­ern Penn­syl­va­nia is pep­pered with nat­ur­al gas pro­duc­tion that is able to tap into plen­ti­ful Mar­cel­lus Shale reserves and pro­duce 7 tril­lion cubic feet of nat­ur­al gas annu­al­ly. Con­sis­tent pro­duc­tion through the past decade has by and large cre­at­ed a glut of nat­ur­al gas, so much so that the Ener­gy Infor­ma­tion Admin­is­tra­tion (EIA) esti­mates half of all homes use it as the pri­ma­ry heat­ing resource in Pennsylvania.

Long before the lat­est boom of nat­ur­al gas devel­op­ment, Penn­syl­va­nia host­ed some of the ear­li­est pipeline routes and tech­nolo­gies. Those have come a long way and have since been replaced with state-of-the-art mon­i­tor­ing and shut­off tech­nolo­gies. By 2012 Penn­syl­va­nia host­ed some 5,500 miles of pipeline thanks to the build­out of sys­tems like Mariner East, Atlantic Sun­rise, and the new­ly oper­a­tional Rev­o­lu­tion pipeline.

These pipelines are impor­tant for a mul­ti­tude of rea­sons. First, they are con­duits between pro­duc­tion fields and indus­tri­al plants that turn raw resources to end prod­ucts for con­sumer use. Take, for exam­ple, the Shell Crack­er in Beaver Coun­ty. This facil­i­ty dis­tills ethane into man­u­fac­tur­ing components.

With­out pipelines, nat­ur­al gas liq­uids would need to be deliv­ered to the crack­er plant via truck or rail. Less prod­uct would be moved and pub­lic infra­struc­ture like roads and high­ways would take a beat­ing, not to men­tion the added traf­fic this would cause.

Pipelines serve as the arter­ies and veins of ener­gy, get­ting mate­ri­als to prop­er des­ti­na­tions quick­ly, reli­ably, and with­out intru­sion. Robust pipeline infra­struc­ture has also had effects on South­east­ern Penn­syl­va­nia where indus­tri­al com­plex­es like the Mar­cus Hook Indus­tri­al Com­plex have become eco­nom­ic engines for the region.

Ener­gy com­pa­nies haven’t backed down on their respon­si­bil­i­ties as part of the local com­mu­ni­ty. Shell donat­ed over 100,000 pieces of per­son­al pro­tec­tive equip­ment (PPE) and Exxon Mobil donat­ed 1,200 gal­lons of hand san­i­tiz­er to the com­mon­wealth last May, at the start of the world­wide COVID pan­dem­ic. Ener­gy Trans­fer and Suno­co’s First Respon­der Fund has done much to keep the emer­gency response depart­ments equipped with the lat­est safe­ty gear and more. To date, they have donat­ed over $1 mil­lion to first respon­ders across Pennsylvania.