Stephanie Catarino Wissman: Pipelines to prosperity

No issue hurts Pennsylvania families more than rising inflation and energy costs. The global mismatch between energy demand and available supply has put upward pressure on fuel prices.

The world needs more energy, not less. Policies that encourage investment in energy exploration and infrastructure build-out can help boost supply while strengthening U.S. energy leadership and national security.

Washington does not have to look far for solutions.

Pennsylvania’s shale revolution unlocked previously untapped natural gas reserves in the Marcellus and Utica shales, attracting significant new investment, generating billions in revenue and solidifying the state’s position as a major energy producer. Furthermore, modern natural gas development created tens of thousands of industry and indirect jobs in the commonwealth.

Without the natural gas provided by the Keystone State, people across the country would likely see higher prices. Pennsylvania’s shale gas boom has helped insulate U.S. consumers from extreme spikes in price, such as those seen recently in Europe. There restricted natural gas has led to increased reliance on Russian gas as well as renewables for electricity.

Despite the progress we have made, poor policy decisions at the federal level and numerous legal challenges have led to pipeline constraints in Pennsylvania and neighboring states, affecting access to abundant, reliable natural gas in New England and beyond. Given the vast supply of shale gas in Pennsylvania, policymakers should unleash homegrown energy by supporting policies that encourage new investment and infrastructure.

But first we need predictable regulations and efficient permitting here in the state. The American Petroleum Institute has a 10-point plan, called “Ten in 2022,” that would bolster U.S. energy leadership and safeguard affordable energy.

Three important reforms would foster new investment and certainty.

First, end permitting obstruction on natural gas projects. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission should cease efforts to overstep its permitting authority under the Natural Gas Act. It should adhere to traditional considerations of public needs as well as focus on direct impacts arising from the construction and operation of natural gas projects.

Second, accelerate liquid natural gas (LNG) exports and approve pending LNG applications. Congress should amend the Natural Gas Act to streamline the Department of Energy (DOE) to a single approval process for all U.S. LNG projects. DOE should approve pending LNG applications to enable the U.S. to deliver reliable energy to our allies abroad.

Third, designate critical energy infrastructure projects. Congress should authorize projects that support the production, processing and delivery of energy. These projects are of such concern to the national interest that they should be entitled to undergo a streamlined review and permitting process not to exceed one year.

Several other policy reforms and solutions should also be on the table. These include lifting development restrictions on federal lands and waters, fixing the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) permitting process, dismantling supply chain bottlenecks and unlocking investment and access to capital.

These solutions offer a way energy producers can supply more American-sourced energy to consumers here at home and to our allies abroad. Pennsylvania has shown the rest of the country what can happen when we embrace and encourage the development of homegrown energy through smartly crafted government policy.

It’s time for Washington to take notice and lead.

Stephanie Catarino Wissman is executive director of the American Petroleum Institute Pennsylvania.

Author: Stephanie Catarino Wissman
Publication: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
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