Joshua Kail new headshot

Rep. Josh Kail

High on a hill, above the much-anticipated ethylene cracker plant that is under development, two state representatives discussed “Energize PA,” a package of bills designed to induce job growth and infrastructure redevelopment – with no new fees or taxes.

“’Energize PA’ builds on our history – one that is steeped in energy production, innovation and manufacturing,” state House Speaker Mike Turzai said at a news conference Thursday morning, near the Beaver County worksite where Shell is building the $6 billion plant. Turzai, R-Allegheny, co-hosted the event with fellow Republican House member Josh Kail, of Beaver.

The package is known formally as House Bill 1102, or the Keystone Energy Enhancement Act. Its intent is to encourage capital investment in the state’s natural gas and manufacturing industries, through the creation of 20 Keystone Energy Enhancement Zones.

These zones would be established statewide following passage of “Energize PA,” and businesses within them would be eligible for state and local tax exemptions and credits for 10 years. The energy zones would be different from the Keystone Opportunity Zones set up by the state Department of Community and Economic Development.

Kail, whose district includes western and southern Washington County, looked out at the burgeoning cracker operation – expected to be completed in a couple of years – and said: “We can’t let the Shell manufacturing facility be our only success story. Pennsylvania faces a unique opportunity to unleash the full value of its natural resources and tap into sustainable economic and job growth for decades to come. But we need to be smart about what we’re doing in Harrisburg.”

He is among eight bill sponsors, all Republicans. The others are: Tim O’Neal (South Strabane), Natalie Mihalek (Upper St. Clair), Mike Puskaric (Elizabeth), Eric Nelson (Westmoreland), Aaron Kaufer (Luzerne), Tarah Toohil (Luzerne) and Jonathan Fritz (Susquehanna/Wayne).

“The right public policies, combined with the right cooperation from the private sector,” Turzai said, “can generate a $60 billion increase in Pennsylvania’s gross domestic product, support the addition of 100,000 new jobs and potentially increase state revenues by $2 billion to $3 billion.”

Business Writer

Rick Shrum joined the Observer-Reporter as a reporter in 2012, after serving as a section editor, sports reporter and copy editor at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Rick has won eight individual writing awards, including two Golden Quills.

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