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Pennsylvania lawmakers make a play for National Fuel to move from New York

They cite New York State policies as a reason the utility should consider moving its headquarters to the Keystone State.
Credit: Karys Belger

BUFFALO, N.Y. — Several state lawmakers in Pennsylvania have signed onto a letter as part of a pitch for National Fuel to move its corporate headquarters out of New York and into the Keystone state.

In a letter dated January 13, the group of Pennsylvania State Senators, Pennsylvania House Members, and Erie County (Pa.) Executive Brenton Davis urge National Fuel President and Chief Executive Officer David P. Bauer to move the utility’s headquarters to Erie, Pa., citing New York’s “open hostility to your product.”

Specifically, the letter mentions New York Governor Kathy Hochul’s support for a plan to make New York the first state in the nation to impose a statewide gas ban for new buildings, along with New York City moving to become the largest city to ban the use of fossil fuels to heat buildings.

“That’s on top of the state’s unfriendly policies related to unconventional natural gas drilling and natural gas pipelines,” the letter states. "Come to Pennsylvania where we recognize the importance of natural gas."

The lead signatory on the letter is Pennsylvania State Senator Dan Laughlin, a Republican, who serves the 49th District in Northwest Pennsylvania.

No move in the offing

In a statement to 2 on Your Side, National Fuel said that the company has no immediate plans to move its headquarters to Pennsylvania.

“As an integrated natural gas company headquartered in Buffalo and operating throughout Western New York and northwestern Pennsylvania, we appreciate Sen. Laughlin’s recognition of the established, positive benefits of natural gas as well as his concerns about the future of this reliable and affordable energy source in New York. While we very much appreciate his sentiment, at the current time National Fuel remains committed to Western New York as our historic corporate headquarters location. That said, Pennsylvania is integral to National Fuel’s long-term growth plans, and there is no question that our ongoing investment in energy production, gathering, transportation and delivery will continue to be substantial. The Company’s four subsidiaries are all operating, investing and paying taxes in the state with skilled and unionized employees based at locations in Erie, Pittsburgh, Brookville and across much of western Pennsylvania."

It is not the first time that Pennsylvania has openly courted National Fuel to move its corporate headquarters to Erie, where the utility already has customers and employees.

Nor it is the first time that a New York State policy has given a company pause as to whether it wants to continue to be headquartered in the state.

Exiting New York

Notably, the historic Remington Arms company (now operating as REmArms), founded in Ilion more than 200 years ago, moved its headquarters to Georgia following the adoption of tougher gun laws in New York under the Cuomo administration, with company officials saying from the decision to locate in Georgia was due to Georgia being more business and firearms friendly.

“We are very excited to come to Georgia, a state that not only welcomes business but enthusiastically supports and welcomes companies in the firearms industry,” RemArms CEO Ken D’Arcy said in a prepared statement regarding the move.

Although the company hasn’t abandoned New York entirely (it plans to continue to manufacture some of its products in Ilion), it also says further expansion will be in southern states.

Beyond individual state policies, however, it is also true that manufacturers and other businesses have been leaving upstate New York for decades, citing high taxes and tough regulations.

And in recent years Wall Street executives relocated thousands of jobs to states outside of New York, to less expensive locations in terms of taxes and real estate to cut costs.