Op-Ed: It’s time to get off Russian oil and unleash the potential of Pennsylvania energy

Energy costs are exploding across the nation, with oil costing an astounding $120 a barrel.  The crunch is felt at the pumps with gas now costing a record $4.17 a gallon in Pennsylvania.  This only adds to the economic pain and crippling inflation ushered in by the Biden Administration that has hurt the wallets of Pennsylvanians.

The situation unfolding in Ukraine has been horrifying for Americans to witness and made worse by the fact that our misinformed “leaders” have emboldened Vladimir Putin by giving him the resources he needed to build and expand his armed forces. 

In less than a year, America went from energy independence to now importing nearly 600 million barrels of oil from Putin’s Russia. The new revenue into the coffers of the Russian government allows them to spend it on weapons and other military equipment. America has indirectly poured billions into Putin’s war chest. 

A perfect example of this occurred in 2016 during a particularly long cold snap in Boston, Massachusetts.  Running out of fuel for energy and desperate for a source, Boston did not turn to Pennsylvania for its natural gas. Instead, they turned to RUSSIA! 

It didn’t have to be this way, but shortsighted policy decisions have gotten us to where we are today.

The Keystone Pipeline, unilaterally stopped in Biden’s first days in office, was to provide 800 million barrels of oil per year.  To appease the progressive “green new deal” wing of his party, Biden put an end to what would have been a gamechanger for North American energy independence. This action was taken despite the fact that pipelines are proven to be 1,200 times safer than a truck, 39 times safer than rail, and 17 times safer than barge when it comes to transporting crude oil.

Instead of commonsense actions to confront out energy woes, the Biden Administration is pleading with a dictator in Venezuela and a King in Saudi Arabia to produce more energy.  This is either a sign of madness or ignorance, as we have what we need here in the United States and in Pennsylvania to fuel our nation and many of our allies in Europe.

Sadly, state leadership in Pennsylvania has also held back the potential of our domestic energy industry.

Pennsylvania has the potential to be an energy producing powerhouse. We are blessed with abundant untapped energy resources We are second in the nation for natural gas reserves and third in the nation for coal. But what benefit do we enjoy from this? 

Tom Wolf’s oppressive and cumbersome fees, taxes, regulations, and restrictions have handicapped the potential of our energy sector.  Many companies in the energy sector simply look to invest in more energy friendly neighboring states like Ohio and West Virginia.

Tom Wolf’s parting gift to the people of Pennsylvania was his unilateral (and probably unconstitutional) decision to join the Regional Green House Gas Initiative (RGGI).  This Northeast version of the Paris Climate Accords will cost the people of Pennsylvania an estimated $461 million dollars a year with no demonstrable benefit to anyone in the state.  Wolf’s RGGI is also projected to immediately result in plant closures and job loss on a mass scale.

Short sighted energy policies have impacts well beyond the energy sector. Low- and Middle-income seniors on fixed incomes cannot afford skyrocketing energy costs to keep the heat on in their homes.

Our already deeply damaged supply chain system cannot afford rising costs to transport goods across the country.

It is time for direct action as politicians like Tom Wolf run around wringing their hands and doing nothing to help the people of our state. 

First, it is time to move SB 813 which would create a “Gas Tax Holiday” for Pennsylvanians. This bill that I introduced over the summer would slash the ridiculously high gas tax and instantly reduce costs at the pump. 

Additionally, the governor must suspend his fees and regulations that are driving up the costs on our energy sector to keep it operational.  This includes immediately withdrawing Pennsylvania from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative. We are losing out on potential investment to competition from other states and even other nations.

Finally, we need to open more of our lands for fracking and drilling. The blessing of Marcellus Shale in Pennsylvania is still underutilized with untapped deposits of natural gas. We need to make it enticing for companies to invest money and equipment in developing those lands.

With these basic steps, Pennsylvania can be the spark that ignites American energy independence and gets us off Russian oil and gas forever. Our future and the future of our allies depends on it.

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