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Natural gas industry facing labor shortages

A round table discussion at Lackawanna College of Petroleum and Natural Gas in Wyoming County was held to discuss problems in the industry.

WYOMING COUNTY, Pa. — Sen. Pat Toomey's visit to the Lackawanna College School of Petroleum and Natural Gas near Tunkhannock started with a tour and conversation about the success rate of graduates here.

"I don't have enough students. Like I said, if I had 30 more students, I could probably still not fill all the open positions that are out here, even just for the internship opportunities," said program director Sue Gumble.

The school then played host to a round-table discussion where leaders in the industry aired their frustrations to Sen. Toomey about labor shortages and federal regulations hindering productivity.

"We need government to get out of the way. We need to allow the industry to innovate," said Jim Welty with the Marcellus Shale Coalition. "We need to create the pipeline not just for natural gas but for the labor market in general, and that's what the school does. That's what our companies are trying to do."

Even if there is a major shift to electric vehicles, leaders say natural gas will be needed to produce and power them.

"Most of the components of electric vehicles, their base byproduct is made out of fossil fuels, and then you need to power it 40 percent of the power generated in Pennsylvania comes from natural gas," added Welty.

Sen. Toomey says he doesn't have the votes to help with all the obstacles facing the industry.

"Foolish policies that are preventing us from having the infrastructure that we need, so we've got to overcome this. This is so good for Pennsylvania, like you pointed out the jobs that are going unfilled," said Sen. Toomey.

RELATED: Sen. Pat Toomey on inflation, Ukraine, and election

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