There was upcoming event on our calendar for the last few weeks, titled Building the Nation’s Next Energy Hub – A Pipeline for Growth: Fueling Economic Revitalization with Marcellus and Utica Shale Gas, which I’d planned on attending with the sole purpose of observing and reporting back to the Philadelphia community.

Although the event organizers blocked the public from attending the event, we see the gas industry setting the stage to get the State of Pennsylvania to pay for pipelines to bring fracked gas to Philadelphia, whilst excluding the taxpayers from the conversation. Taxpayers that would shoulder the cost and the risk of investing in fossil fuel infrastructure at this late stage of the carbon-based economy. Notably, Phil Rinaldi (CEO of PES) is in discussion with Tom Wolf (Governor of Pennsylvania).

gpcc-2The event was organized by the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce. Per their  website, we knew there was a registration fee of $45 for members, and $90 for non-members. A week before the event, not being a member, I tried to register but got a cryptic message stating

Based on your login information, you do not meet the criteria to purchase the following item(s).

When I submitted a web form about my inability to register for the event, and followed up with a phone call, I was told it was because I wasn’t a GPCC member.  When I asked about membership rates, I was advised that someone in membership would contact me. The website made no mention of membership rates, which would have made it easy to click, pay, register. When the weekend rolled past, it took a second phone call from my end. Even though I called for membership info, the response was repeatedly either “The event is sold out” or “You’re not a member”.

For an organization that’s “the premier advocate of the region’s business community, representing members in 11 counties across three states with one voice”, it sure was hard to determine if we wanted to become members.  Eventually, I was advised that we needed to become a member of GPEAT (Greater Philadelphia Energy Action Team) for $5,000, to attend a morning talk!

A vibrant business active in the city of Philadelphia, offering great products & service, staying afloat with no bank loans or subsidy,  is excluded from membership because… yes, they told me, we’re too small.

Meanwhile, non-members that had registered well in advance were refunded.  We heard there was quite a lot of security entering the building this morning.

What are they afraid of?

Per quotes from coverage by Andrew Maykuth of the Inquirer (Energy-hub supporters intensifying the push for a natural-gas pipeline), looks likes the energy players are trying to get the state to pay for the pipeline.

Unstated in the report is that moves are underway to encourage even greater state involvement in the project, including government financing of the pipeline.

Early talks are underway with the Wolf administration about enlisting “some kind of authority” to underwrite part of the pipeline, which would shift some risk to the public, he said.

It’s bad enough they’re getting the state to police their blatant plowing thru private property, using the banner of eminent domain for private gain, but Pipeline for Growth sounds like an unsustainable business plan. To ensure current profitability, the gas industry is shifting the expense and future liability to the citizens.

Here’s how to reach Governor Tom Wolf, who needs to hear that we need him to ban fracking and commit to never subsidizing the pipelines.