Recently, Senator Gene Yaw and Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi (who represents the Ninth District of Pennsylvania, comprised of areas in Chester and Delaware counties in southeastern Pennsylvania) held a press conference at the Pennsylvania College of Technology campus in Williamsport to introduce two bills that are important to our area.

These bills would help extend and expand the natural gas distribution systems to residential, commercial and industrial sites that are under-served or not served at all.

These bills are an important step in using natural gas produced in our own backyards to benefit families, businesses and groups in our area.

"Pennsylvania is fortunate to have access to the abundant resources of the Marcellus Shale formation," Pileggi said in a press release announcing the legislation. "We should encourage and make smart investments so that the affordable energy provided by natural gas is available to as many Pennsylvanians as possible. These bills will foster economic growth across the state."

Senate Bill 738, the Natural Gas Consumer Access Act, would require all the natural gas distribution utilities in Pennsylvania to submit a plan to the Public Utility Commission about how they would extend and expand projects.

Senate Bill 739 would amend the Alternative Energy Investment Act, and would provide $15 million for grants to places like schools, hospitals and small businesses to gain access to natural gas service.

At the press conference, Yaw explained how the idea of expanded availability of natural gas to Pennsylvania residents came to him.

"The Center for Rural Pennsylvania had a hearing in Bradford County, and the focus of it was to start looking into the idea of what we can do expand the accessibility and availability of natural gas to the residents of rural Pennsylvania," he said. "The more we got into it, we found out that about 50 percent of Pennsylvanians don't even have access to natural gas and we started to think 'what's wrong with this picture?' We're sitting on top of one of the largest natural gas deposits in the world and 50 percent of our residents don't even have the opportunity to say that they would like to have natural gas service."

Yaw makes an excellent point. It's a great idea to make the natural gas being produced locally stay local. We support Yaw and Pileggi in their quest to expand the accessibility of natural gas to Pennsylvania residents.