Russia’s recent invasion of Ukraine must serve as the ultimate wake-up call. It is past time for Pennsylvania, and the United States, to achieve true energy independence to safeguard the interests of our citizens.
As we contemplate how to deal with what is unfolding on the world stage, let’s be clear: what Russia is doing is as much about energy as it is about fulfilling its own expansionist, Soviet-era dogma. Russia feels empowered – and why shouldn’t they? Most of Europe – having jettisoned failed wind and solar projects and refusing to build and operate nuclear facilities – needs their oil and gas. Russian had a plan – its newest pipeline, Nord Stream 2 – was built through the ocean to bypass Ukraine and deliver up to 40% of Europe’s gas. Meanwhile, President Biden’s war on American energy has discouraged American oil production and constrained access to capital so much that – just a few months ago – he begged Russia and Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) to increase their output, even as he shut down American pipelines, like Keystone XL.
Guess what? Now the U.S. needs Putin’s oil.
Looking closer to home, what exactly has Gov. Tom Wolf done? He has banned natural gas development in the eastern third of the state, depriving thousands of homeowners the right to their own property; banned development of the state’s own natural gas rights underling publicly owned property; proposed billions of dollars in new taxes on homeowners and businesses; stifled development and diverted capital and jobs elsewhere through draconian new regulations and a death-by-a-thousand-cuts permitting process so slow it would make a snail envious. The Governor has furthered his war on coal and natural gas by unilaterally entering Pennsylvania into a job-killing multi-state carbon cartel that will, in the end, simply shift our reliance to other carbon-emitting states to keep our lights on, all the while slapping Pennsylvania consumers with an annual electric bill of more than $400 million. All this and quietly telling the energy industry they should be thankful that he is not Josh Shapiro.
Beyond these administrative functions of government, Gov. Wolf has failed to use his bully pulpit to tout the benefits of domestically sourced energy, produced under the highest standards in the world. Instead he has chosen to retreat to the tired and worn out refrain that wind and solar will magically save the day. This fairy tale conveniently overlooks the fact that much of the rare earth minerals needed for renewable energy are mined in Russia, China and third-world nations which use child slave labor and adhere to no environmental safeguards.
Real energy independence means we stop pitting one form of American energy – be it coal, nuclear, gas, wind or solar – against another. Forms of energy are not our enemy; reliance on foreign energy from those who wish us harm should be.
We are not captives to the Putins of the world.
There are things we can and must do. We can start by building infrastructure here at home so our abundant resources can help secure our nation. New England should never be beholden to importing natural gas from Russia – as they have done – because we cannot build pipelines out of Pennsylvania. This takes open-minded reforms by our federal government to reign in states that have abused their authority in a war on fossil fuels putting our nation at risk.
Here at home, Gov. Wolf can open up our resources to development – safely and responsibly. He should stop apologizing for Pennsylvania’s abundance of resources and start touting their contributions to energy security, decreased poverty and economic opportunity.
We too can act by showing an interest in helping our allies. We can export coal, natural gas and new and innovative technologies that increase energy efficiency and safeguard the environment. When we export these things, we import jobs, capital, tax revenue, and most importantly, enhanced domestic security. Perhaps the international world will not stand by the next time a petulant dictator invades a sovereign nation, merely because they need his energy to keep the lights on.
So it is up to us – the citizens of this state and their elected officials – to demand American energy independence as if our national security depends upon it – because it does.
Senator Camera Bartolotta
(R-46, Washington, Greene & Beaver Counties)