By Rep. Clint Owlett (R-Tioga/Bradford/Potter)
There are defining moments that shape our future for the next generation. We are absolutely in one of those defining moments right now.
Our hearts are breaking for the Ukrainian people as we watch a complete madman with no
regard for the truth, or what is just plain right, try to take control of another free county.
At the same time, our hearts are full of awe with the leadership that we are seeing from President Volodymyr Zelensky as he leads the brave people of Ukraine in pushing back against the criminal acts of the Russian president.
During this defining moment we find ourselves glued to our TVs and social media, watching with horror the images coming from Ukraine and worrying about their future…and ours. I have found myself trying to explain this to my kids who just don’t quite understand, but see
the images and know this is so wrong.
I, like many of you, am asking, “how did we get to this point?” and “what can be done to resolve this crisis?”
There is no doubt that one of the main reasons we are at this point is the reliance on Russia for oil and gas, not only by European countries but by our country as well. When we rely on another country for a basic need like energy, we essentially become enslaved to them to some degree. AT the start of this war, 40% of Russia’s government financing was coming from its oil and gas exports. We cannot ignore the fact that our actions over the past year have in part supported this unjust, unprovoked and brutal attack on Ukraine.
The United States is no longer accepting Russian oil and gas imports, but that is a short-term solution that is only going to cause more pain at the pump for working families. We need to get out of our import mindset and capitalize on the vast potential we have here in Pennsylvania to EXPORT our oil and gas resources and move our nation toward energy independence.
How do we do that? First, we get government out of the way!
I will soon introduce legislation to end Gov. Tom Wolf’s moratorium on new gas leases on state property. Many may not realize we currently have active leases from which the state is reaping revenues. In fact, we are currently exporting some of our natural gas resources into New York and Canada from our region, resulting in significant royalties for the Commonwealth. In fact, Seneca Resources alone has paid more than $275 million to the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources in the last decade.
But we can and must do more. With the technology we have now, we can access the vast majority of natural gas under our state lands without even being on state property. This is a commonsense approach and a step in the right direction to energy independence.
Another commonsense step would be to ensure more reasonable oversight of the conventional oil and gas industry, which is currently being crushed by overregulation by the Department of Environmental Protection. These small, shallow well drillers should not be subject to the same regulations as large-scale, deep well drilling in the Marcellus shale. As a result, conventional operators have scaled back production and oil refineries right here in Pennsylvania are having to import crude oil for processing. We’ve passed this bill before, only to have it vetoed by the governor. We passed it again last year, and we need the Senate to take it up again and put it on the governor’s desk. This is a great example of a policy that is driving up prices at the pump.
In addition to these efforts, we also have members working on proposals that would open the Delaware River Basin for natural gas development; prevent advocacy organizations from accepting donations from foreign entities to disrupt the Commonwealth’s efforts to establish energy independence; and stop Pennsylvania’s entry into the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative.
This is a defining moment for our generation, and what we do today will surely define the future for my kids, your kids and kids across the country and around the world. We must act now to move to a position of strength and independence to ensure that no madman can ever again leverage us to raid a country and murder the innocent.
Achieving energy independence and ultimately exporting our product makes us and the world a safer place.
Representative Clint Owlett
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Media Contact: Patricia Hippler