How Pennsylvania is welcoming the American energy Renaissance

How Pennsylvania is welcoming the American energy Renaissance
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New York and Pennsylvania — a tale of two states with major differences in how each has responded to America’s energy Renaissance.

For decades, American energy producers have sought the deep pockets of natural gas, such as the Marcellus Shale deposit in the north east United States. But it wasn’t until the past decade or so that we’ve really had the technology to safely and efficiently tap into these crucial energy deposits.

In the case of my home state of Pennsylvania, our lawmakers helped usher in an energy revolution. Not since 1901 had Pennsylvania been thought of as a top American energy producer. That year the Keystone State was knocked off its perch atop America’s young but growing energy sector by the Texas oil boom. Then, in 2008, the exploration of the Marcellus Shale deposit took off.

The energy boom has brought solid, high paying jobs to parts of the state in dire need of economic rejuvenation. The average pay for someone employed in fracking is $20,000 higher than the state average salary – energy workers making roughly $62,000 a year. The boom has brought over $4 billion in economic investment into the state, providing tens of thousands of jobs.

Two years in (and what seems ages ago in terms of technological development) the Pennsylvania fracking program was given high marks by the State Review of Oil and natural Gas Environmental Regulations. Pennsylvania has been an energy revolution success story and if the fracking play here were fully developed, industry estimates say it would provide over 200,000 jobs to the state.

There is no reason to limit this success story to Pennsylvania alone. The Marcellus Shale deposits extend into New York State, West Virginia, and Ohio. Yet, lawmakers in some of those places have gone out of their way to signal not just disinterest, but outright hostility to our great American energy revolution. This is especially astounding considering that in 2016, fracking fueled half of all U.S. oil output.  

New York, for instance, whose Southern Tier communities (many of whom need economic revitalization) sits right on the same Marcellus Shale Formation, has long banned drilling for natural gas. In addition, New York Gov. Cuomo (D) recently called for an effort to divest New York’s pension fund of all oil and gas stocks.

New York City is also joining in on a new trend of liberal mayors who are determined to reverse the successes of energy production and, not just prevent growth in their cities, but to drive down exploration and production in the U.S. entirely.

These slippery anti-oil salesmen are busy telling their electorate that the city coffers can handle divestment. Yet they then turn to the media and claim the sky is falling down upon them because of climate change, and their only solution is to sue American energy producers.

The apotheosis of this mindset is New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio. In early January, the New York Times reported that Mayor de Blasio would seek to sue the five major oil companies, seeking billions of dollars in damages to cover city expenses in dealing with climate change. I wouldn’t be surprised if this strikes you, as it does me, as a scheme to backfill Hurricane Sandy relief money lost through waste, fraud, and abuse. In fact, a New York Democratic assemblywoman was indicted in early January for allegedly personally defrauding the government of tens of thousands of dollars in Hurricane Sandy relief funds.

Shortly after unveiling his shakedown scheme, Mayor de Blasio seemed to have admitted that he was grasping at straws, acknowledging — per the New York Times — that the lawsuits could take years to conclude.

Radical environmentalists have pulled the same stunt as de Blasio in several California cities — the over the top hysteria of each lawsuit suggesting something more akin to a publicity stunt and a waste of time and taxpayer dollars than anything else.

The Washington Times hit the nail on the head when they pointed out that many of these lawsuits appear to be driven by the fact that:

“Cities have been living beyond their means for years, running up billion dollar pension liabilities. Someone has to pay the tab for the fiscal hangover, and extortion may be the way to require others to pay the bills. What better target than Big Oil?” 

And that is just it. What is billed as justice for climate change is just a big city shakedown routine, filing their coffers at the expense of hardworking Americans in energy producing states like Pennsylvania.

Colin Hanna is President of Let Freedom Ring USA, Inc., a non-profit public policy organization committed to promoting Constitutional government, free enterprise and traditional values. Let Freedom Ring’s primary current project is Sunset the Tax Code. Hanna was a Chester County Commissioner (1995-2003) and has appeared on MCNBC’s Hardball with Chris Matthews; Fox News Channel’s Hannity, The Glenn Beck Show, Special Report, and Fox & Friends.