Natural gas solution to many problems

Abundant, reliable, environmentally friendly, economically boosting energy that also enhances our national security and stabilizes the global marketplace. Sounds like a dream, right? But in fact, it’s a reality that is closer than many realize. You don’t have to look farther than the ground under your feet to find the answer in the form of Pennsylvania’s rich natural gas. The Commonwealth’s prolific natural gas reserves have cemented the state’s role as a global energy leader, as Pennsylvania ranks second in the nation in overall production. Here in Bradford County, we have seen the positives that the industry has brought. As noted on our county website, as the most drilled county in the state, natural gas has attracted national and international investment. But no matter how much natural gas we have at our disposal, it doesn’t benefit anyone if delays in permitting hold up production or stop it from getting to market.

You know the current system is broken when due to permitting delays and lack of pipeline infrastructure results in regions of our country importing natural gas from foreign sources rather than from a neighboring state. But that’s exactly what’s happening. Due to moratoriums on pipeline development in New York and the pausing of pipeline buildout, it is next to impossible to get natural gas from Pennsylvania to New England states. This is why you could see large Russian tanker boats pulling into Boston Harbor to offload natural gas in years past. It doesn’t make any logical sense to place such a reliance on foreign energy sources when there are such vast resources at our fingertips. Just look at the effect Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has on European energy markets. As Europe’s main natural gas supplier, Russia’s energy resources have given the country a unique power over the global marketplace with an ability to cut off energy supplies to European countries. The more problems we have producing natural gas and getting it to market, the more powerful international energy producers like Russia become. That example alone is reason enough to decrease our reliance on foreign sources to meet our country’s energy needs.

So it begs the question, why are government entities at the state and federal level standing in the way of improving our national security and embracing home-grown energy? The fact of the matter is that antiquated, cumbersome, and duplicative permitting processes on the state and federal levels are a major hindrance to progress and growth. For every delayed permit or prolonged permitting process, jobs, economic opportunities, and national security are at risk.

The permitting process does not need to be as complicated and drawn out as it currently is. The reforms that are needed aren’t revolutionary. Putting uniform standards in place for the review process, capping the length in which a review can take place, and reducing bureaucratic red tape will go a long way in improving the process. Additionally, the federal government needs to exert its authority regarding the build-out of intrastate pipeline infrastructure to stop states from impeding the construction and operation of natural gas projects.

Importantly, these reforms can be accomplished without sacrificing environmental safeguards. Updating and streamlining the process while at the same time continuing to ensure a safe drilling environment are not mutually exclusive endeavors. They can and should coexist to promote natural gas production.

Natural gas is the solution to many of the issues currently facing our country. It isn’t just an economic driver for our region and the state – it can also be utilized to strengthen our national security while improving the environment. Knowing the multitude of benefits this industry provides – and its potential to reshape our future – it’s time for elected officials to right-size the permitting process so we can truly embrace our energy potential.

Doug McLinko is a Bradford County commissioner.

Author: Doug McLinko
Publication: Sun Gazette
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