Your Turn: Realizing our energy potential and ensuring our security

Energy is the backbone of modern life. Without reliable, secure energy, our world as we know it would come to a grinding halt, and our economy would collapse. Experts largely agree that our energy needs will only continue to grow in the coming decades.

We don’t need an expert to tell us how much we rely on energy in our everyday lives. But what many may not know is just how crucial energy is to our economy and national security.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the fallout that continues from that act of aggression is a cautionary tale of the importance of energy leadership and security. Historically, Europe has heavily relied upon Russia’s natural gas reserves to help meet its energy needs. In fact, according to data provided by the European Union, in 2021, 40% of EU countries’ natural gas was supplied by Russia. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine put a spotlight on the complexity of our global dynamics and the repercussions of relying on foreign energy resources. Accordingly, many countries were forced to reconsider how they source their energy.

As the international community began to sanction Russia for unprovoked aggression toward Ukraine, Russia pushed back by weaponizing its natural gas resources and cutting off its supplies to many European countries. Many were closely watching the European continent and the impact this move would have on heating needs during the winter months. Russia was banking on the fact that the harsh winter weather and a lack of natural gas supplies would lead many European nations to rethink the sanctions that had been imposed. Thankfully, that has not come to pass, and EU nations have found alternative sources to meet their energy needs this winter. However, this is a position no country would want to find themselves in.

The United States is in a much better position to reduce its reliance on foreign energy sources. Our country’s energy leadership and security are strengthened by the Marcellus Shale. Thanks to this resource, Pennsylvania is second only to Texas in the nation in natural gas production. The Commonwealth’s vast natural gas reserves have secured its position as a global energy leader.

The development of the Marcellus Shale has been a turning point for the state ― jumpstarting the economy and creating hundreds of thousands of direct and indirect family-sustaining jobs. As more businesses, homes and vehicles are powered by natural gas, we’ve seen lower air emissions and cheaper energy costs.

But, all of the benefits that come with natural gas will mean nothing if we can’t get the gas to market. Bureaucratic red tape and permitting delays, coupled with states having the unilateral authority to prohibit drilling within their borders, have blocked progress and put our national security at risk. Elected officials on both the state and federal level need to promote policies that encourage infrastructure build-out and investment in natural gas development.

It wasn’t so long ago when Russian tankers carrying natural gas were pictured in Boston Harbor because a lack of pipeline infrastructure meant the New England region was cut off from our vast natural gas supplies. It is unfathomable that the United States, the world’s greatest superpower and bastion of innovation and discovery, needs to rely on foreign energy resources because we can’t expand the infrastructure needed to provide safe, reliable and affordable energy to our fellow citizens in other states.

The answer to our energy needs and security is right under our feet. It is time that we seize the opportunity before us when it comes to natural gas to achieve our full energy potential. Our economy and national security depend on it.

Author: PA Rep. Josh Kail
Publication: The Times
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