Pennsylvania's manufacturing sector would benefit from the development of a statewide energy plan, according to a report from Gov. Tom Corbett's Manufacturing Advisory Council (GMAC).

"Pennsylvania's natural gas reserves offer great potential, but there are several barriers for small- and medium-sized manufacturers to enter that market," according to the report. "Action is needed both at the public and private levels to seize new market opportunities as well as leverage the opportunities from the natural gas boom."

The council recommended that the state's energy resources be promoted "with a focus on job creation and competitiveness for Pennsylvania-based businesses. A goal should be to have Pennsylvania energy costs be the lowest and most stable in the United States," the report said.

The state should adopt policies "that are balanced and inclusive of diverse sources of energy, recognizing both a market-based approach as well as government's role in long-term planning, while ensuring reliable energy for manufacturers in both rural and urban locations."

The council also recommended the development of combined heat and power projects, exploration of legislation to create a shale gas power authority to coordinate policy and regulation, the coordination of natural gas supply chain development activities, and investment in maintaining and modernizing the state's energy infrastructure.

Marcellus Shale Coalition president Kathryn Klaber praised the "common sense, pro-growth, pro-jobs policies" outlined by the advisory council.

"As more natural gas is safely produced here at home, the more competitive Pennsylvania and the United States will be in the global marketplace. At the same time, the expanded use of American natural gas, for electricity generation to transportation and beyond, the more environmental and economic benefits we'll continue to realize," Klaber said.

The report of the 24-member GMAC included a total of 15 key recommendations to help the state's manufacturing sector. The recommendations focused on talent and workforce, opening new markets, making government work better for manufacturers, innovation, and access to capital.

GMAC members represent a cross-section of manufacturing interests, including heavy machinery, minerals, pharmaceuticals, plastics, steel and textiles.

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