As Russia’s invasion of Ukraine intensifies and the threat of an expanding conflict in the region looms, questions are being raised in Pennsylvania about energy independence and the role of the Keystone State.
In many respects, history is repeating itself as America and its allies find themselves drawn into a conflict that has links to fossil fuels – its production and its consumption.
The European Union is the largest importer of natural gas in the world with the biggest share coming from Russia (41 percent). In comparison, the U.S. imports about 11 percent of crude oil from Russia.
Now, the Biden Administration must decide a path to follow – impose sanctions on Russia’s gas exports and possibly see American energy costs rise, or find another option.
Pennsylvania politicians have staked their positions on the subject, mostly with the caveat that many of the problems in the crisis were caused by the Biden Administration.
“We have to consider additional sanctions” on Russia’s oil and gas industry, said Democratic Sen. Bob Casey, adding that a proposed Joe Manchin-Lisa Murkowski bill that would block the U.S. government and U.S. companies from importing any Russian crude oil or petroleum is something he is taking under consideration.
Gov. Tom Wolf went after House Environmental Resources & Energy Committee Chair Daryl Metcalfe (R-Butler) for his criticism of his administration’s response to the crisis. He accused Metcalfe of “seizing” on the war in Ukraine to “increase the profits of the natural gas industry.”
Metcalfe penned a letter from his committee to Wolf, stating “Pennsylvania has never been in a better position to power the world. The commonwealth has a natural bounty of oil, gas, and coal that can heat homes, generate manufacturing feedstock, and fuel democracies far and wide. You know of our immense potential, yet the State has been hamstrung by regulation, bans, time-intensive permitting, RGGI, and further taxation while you support energy means that cannot possibly power the needs of the 21st century.”
“Mr. Biden owns this energy crisis, which is the direct result of his administration crippling domestic production, making us more vulnerable to global market fluctuations such as those caused by Russian aggressions in Ukraine,” said Rep. Glenn Thompson (R-Centre) in a statement.
“The regulatory blanket and the uncertainty has stopped capital investment,” GOP senate candidate Dave McCormick told FOX Business’ Maria Bartiromo. “We need to streamline the pipeline permitting process, which is one of the big constraints in Pennsylvania. We need to pull back on the regulatory blanket.”
“We as a nation say ‘from now on when we say we need energy, we make energy,’” said Republican opponent Mehmet Oz told abc27’s Dennis Owens. “We don’t let pipelines get stopped halfway down the construction pipeline because a bunch of activists get upset about the possibility they might have an ecological impact.”
According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, Pennsylvania’s marketed natural gas production, primarily from the Marcellus Shale, reached a record 7.1 trillion cubic feet in 2020, and the state is the nation’s second-largest natural gas producer after Texas.
GOP gubernatorial candidate Lou Barletta told City and State that “I will work to finish the Mariner pipeline to ship clean and safe Pennsylvania natural gas out of the Port of Philadelphia to places like Europe, so we can undermine Russia’s strength and ability to leverage their energy dominance.”
State House Majority Leader Kerry Benninghoff penned an op-ed where he said, “We need to make sure we are doing all we can to increase production and use our own domestic fuel sources, including Pennsylvania natural gas. On any given day, Pennsylvania produces nearly 20 percent of the entire nation’s natural gas supply.”
“The United States can change course,” said state senator Gene Yaw (R-Lycoming) in a press release. “We can ramp up energy production with the same urgency we experienced when manufacturers pivoted to make masks and ventilators at the onset of the pandemic. We can ease Biden-era policies meant to restrict oil and gas production and exports. We can greenlight Keystone and other pipelines. And we can unleash our plentiful gas supply right here in Pennsylvania to help with that mammoth effort.”
Rep. Seth Grove (R-York), the chairman of the House State Government Committee, said he would soon be introducing a bill to increase natural gas drilling and distribution in Pennsylvania in light of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Grove said that his End Russian Aggression Act would increase drilling in the state, fund pipelines to get gas to markets, reform the drilling permit process and keep Pennsylvania from entering the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, currently a project among 11 states to reduce carbon dioxide emissions in power generation.
GOP Senate candidate George Bochetto said, “I will advocate for energy independence and for energy jobs here in Pennsylvania. Our nation must be energy independent. We must go back to exporting oil and natural gas to Europe, and cutting off the lifeblood of Putin’s military.”