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Feds New Focus on Pipeline Safety Raises Concerns of Overregulation

When it comes to moving fossil fuels as safely as possible from where they are produced to where they are needed, the data is clear that pipelines are the best choice, particularly over long distances.

“As long as we’ve made the choice to use natural gas, oil — name your fossil fuel resource — the only practical and safe way to move it at scale is to move it through pipelines,” said Keith Coyle, a D.C.-based attorney who advises clients throughout the United States on energy matters.

But the National Transportation Safety Board believes more can be done, in particular, to protect people and property from pipeline explosions. At issue is the potential impact radius (PIR) for a pipeline. While explosions are rare when compared to the millions of miles of active pipelines in the U.S., they do happen.

An analysis highlighted by E&E News looked at 17 pipeline explosions between 2017 and 2022. One such case was in 2019 when an explosion in Kentucky killed a woman in a nearby mobile home approximately 640 feet from the blast.

In 2000, 12 family members died in New Mexico after a pipeline ruptured and caused a blast 675 feet from where they were camping. The federal government considers 600 feet to be a safe distance, and now officials want regulators to update their calculations.

“Pipeline operators must know and understand their pipeline systems and use appropriate technologies and procedures to address risk to prevent pipeline failures while considering the inherent limitations of technology,” wrote Tristan H. Brown, Deputy Administrator of the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) at Department of Transportation in a November 2022 letter. “PHMSA prescribes factors that must be addressed to mitigate risk and conducts inspections to ensure adequate measures are carried out effectively.”

That includes potentially recalculating the formula for an acceptable PIR.

But energy insiders note that, however necessary this update may be, the Biden administration has been openly hostile to the fossil fuel industry from the outset. There is concern that the legitimate debate about re-calculating the PIR might be used to make siting more difficult for future fossil-fuel infrastructure projects. Siting is already one of the most challenging aspects of expanding pipeline capacity.

“If regulators are looking at this from an analytical perspective, and what is the actual risk, that’s OK,” said Coyle. “But if they’re using it to push an agenda, to make pipelines appear less safe than they actually are, well — look, when you actually look at the data, by any measure, this is the safest choice. In terms of injuries, fatalities, the amount of product moved, etc.”

No system is entirely without risk, of course, but the American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers (AFPM) says consumers need to understand that pipelines are safe and “accidents are rare.”

“According to the most recent numbers available, 99.99 percent of gas and crude oil is moved safely through interstate transmission pipelines,” says AFPM. “This achievement is the result of a culture that values safety above all, throughout the pipeline lifecycle,” which they say includes “pipeline operators constantly monitoring pipeline performance using state-of-the-art technology.”

But an administration that began with President Joe Biden killing a major pipeline project — the Keystone XL — and a plunge in energy leases has supporters of fossil fuel production wary about regulatory changes.

If you ask Dan Kish at the Institute for Energy Research (IER), onerous government regulations are precisely the reason people are now pushing for new calculations on the “safe distance” from pipelines.

“The goal is to make it so expensive or so impossible to use any of the U.S.’s world-class energy resources that Americans are forced to use renewable energy technology, which unfortunately only works part-time and is largely dependent upon Chinese production,” says Kish.

Still, news outlets such as Politico note energy industry groups have often been the ones to dictate policy. Pointing to a 2015 Politico investigation, Politico’s Arianna Skibell wrote that PHMSA “lacked the resources to inspect the country’s millions of miles of oil and gas lines, and that it had granted the industry it regulates significant power to influence the rulemaking process.”

“In the last decade, more than 2,600 pipeline leaks killed 122 people across the country, causing more than $4 million in damage and releasing 26.6 billion cubic feet of planet-warming pollution,” wrote Skibell, citing a 2022 study by U.S. PIRG Education Fund.

Once again, Coyle notes, what is the alternative? Rail and trucks have their own safety risks, and shipping is limited both by geography and the Jones Act, which makes moving oil and gas between U.S. ports nearly impossible.

And Kish sees political opportunism at work.

“One week it’s banning gas stoves, the next it’s a proposal that would make it impossible to build and operate pipelines.”

 

EDITOR’S NOTE: A previous version of this article misidentified the NTSB as the federal agency that regulates pipelines. We regret the error.

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Counterpoint: On Energy Policy, Let’s Live in the Now

For an alternative viewpoint see: Point: Nuclear Fusion Is the Energy Source of the Future

“Still decades and hundreds of billions of dollars away.”

That was the sobering refrain from the recent nuclear fusion announcement that has already taken decades and cost taxpayers hundreds of billions of dollars to get to this point of—wait for it—still being decades and hundreds of billions of dollars away.

Meanwhile, the Biden administration is thwarting domestic energy development and Congress can’t pass bipartisan permitting reform to make energy siting and transmission more predictable. All this while the nation suffers from the imperfect storm of gasoline and natural gas costs, increasing frequency of blackouts and brownouts, and a greater reliance on foreign energy sources.

Considering the genuine challenges our nation is facing, the U.S. should focus its resources on tangible solutions that are available now.

Around the world, more than 2 billion people live in energy poverty, and millions of Americans struggle to pay for electricity and transportation fuels. Separately, the war in Ukraine has highlighted an over-reliance on Russian natural gas in European countries — a gap that U.S. natural gas could help fill. In fact, the administration has promised more U.S. gas to England and other allied nations despite a history of making it more difficult for U.S. energy companies to extract and transport those resources domestically.

And not only is the federal government an obstacle, but some political and business leaders, like Michael Bloomberg, are underwriting public relations campaigns to end the use of traditional energy sources while they fly on private jets, sail on yachts, and live in mansions. They do not appreciate the struggle for affordable energy, potable water, and good jobs that most citizens of the country, and the world, seek.

The International Energy Administration and the U.S. Energy Information Administration acknowledge petroleum and natural gas will be among the most widely needed fuels for at least the next 50 years, and likely longer. Fuels that are necessary to drive vehicles, heat homes, and cook food.

In addition to leveraging North American petroleum and natural gas supplies, the U.S. has an opportunity to promote the advancement of traditional renewable energy sources. To his credit, President Joe Biden has presided over the largest deployment of solar and wind in U.S. history. Continued investment, coupled with a robust natural gas industry, is the best way to keep our economy strong, reduce carbon emissions and expand our electricity generation capacity.

Biden, working with Congress, secured record investments to accelerate renewable energy sources through landmark laws like the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act and the Inflation Reduction Act. Through his Cabinet, departments have established important goals to build America’s budding offshore wind energy industry and increase the generation capacity of solar to help us reduce carbon emissions by the end of this decade. It is a challenge, but one that is within reach.

It is important that the United States, and specifically the Department of Energy, support new and innovative technologies to help us reach a clean energy future. A future that nuclear fusion may be a part of.

However, it is critical that we leverage our current resources to meet the energy demands of today—both domestic and global—by allowing U.S. energy companies to develop and transport the traditional energy resources that we have domestically. This will help lower the cost of energy, grow our economy and support our allies while greening our environment — all without waiting decades and spending hundreds of billions more dollars hoping for the best possible result from a cool science project.

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Point: Nuclear Fusion Is the Energy Source of the Future

For an alternate point of view see:  Counterpoint:  On Energy Policy, Let’s Live in the Here and Now

Last month, nuclear fusion topped headlines around the world when scientists at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California announced an essential milestone in developing this nascent technology. They achieved “ignition,” meaning more energy came out of a reaction than was needed to make the reaction happen in the first place. Despite some significant remaining challenges, there are strong reasons to believe a fusion-powered future awaits us.

Achieving ignition was only the latest in a series of fusion breakthroughs. For instance, in early 2022, news sources announced that a Chinese reactor maintained a fusion reaction for 17 minutes at 158 million degrees Fahrenheit. That’s about five times the temperature of the sun.

One reason fusion is so promising is that it has the potential to revolutionize the way we power our economy. In theory, fusion can produce almost unlimited energy. The amount of energy released in a nuclear fusion reaction can be many times that of a chemical reaction. Fusion is also carbon-free, which is why it is sometimes labeled as the “holy grail” of clean energy.

There are still major hurdles facing this technology. Some are technological. Attaining ignition was important but not a game-changer, and many more such breakthroughs will need to happen, including improving the efficiency of the reaction many times over.

That said, we know that fusion works. It’s the process that powers stars like the sun. So, while the industry’s obstacles are significant, we have plenty of reason to believe they will be overcome eventually. The main question is when.

Another hurdle is whether fusion can be produced cheaply enough to compete with alternative energy sources, such as wind, solar, coal and traditional fission nuclear reactors. The lack of availability of tritium, which is often used as a fuel source, is an issue. A common form of fusion reactor combines tritium and deuterium to produce helium. Deuterium is not hard to obtain, as it can be produced from seawater, but tritium is extremely rare on earth and decays quickly. This could mean fusion reactors need help with obtaining the necessary inputs they need to operate, which could also make them uneconomical.

There are also risks associated with fusion. Although the risk of an out-of-control meltdown scenario, like what can occur with fission reactors, is a non-issue, fusion reactors still produce significant amounts of radiation that could leak in a crisis situation. Additionally, if unmonitored, fusion reactors can generate fissile materials like plutonium-239, which must be prevented from being produced and falling into the wrong hands.

There are just as many reasons to be optimistic. For one thing, the U.S. government is broadly supportive of fusion. The Biden administration and agencies like the Department of Energy are pumping millions into the technology, and plans are forming to build a fusion pilot plant in the United States. Private-sector investment is also high.

Additionally, fusion reactors rely on a variety of different methods. Some, like the Lawrence Livermore Lab, use lasers, while another common approach uses magnets to guide a super-hot plasma around a donut-shaped chamber called a tokamak. We don’t know what the best approach is. Fusion is ripe for experimentation, and the best thing we can do is encourage as much of it as possible.

One of the sadder legacies of the anti-nuclear movement in the United States is that it sidelined nuclear power for a generation. Now, with all the problems associated with global warming, it’s obvious that this was a huge missed opportunity. We should continue to invest in wind and solar and other sources of green energy, but these won’t revolutionize our economy the way fusion could.

Truly radical innovation will have to come from an energy source like fusion. The breakthrough in California pushed us one step closer to an energy revolution. The real question now is not whether a revolution is possible but whether we have the will to turn the energy future of our dreams into reality.

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CICIO: FERC Nears One of the Costliest Energy Decisions in History

President Biden got it right in his 2022 State of the Union Address when he said “capitalism without competition is exploitation.” Competition is the keystone of the American economic model and its success. Unfortunately, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission is considering a proposed rule on electricity transmission that not only fails to support the expansion of competition but also backs away from existing rules designed to usher in a new era of transmission competition to lower electricity costs for consumers.

According to a study by Princeton University, the United States will need to spend $2.1 trillion on transmission by 2050 if it is to reach net-zero emissions in that time. Competitively bid transmission projects have been shown to offer savings as great as 40 percent, which means requiring transmission projects to be competitively bid could save ratepayers $480 billion. Either way, consumer electric bills will substantially increase, but competition can reduce those cost increases and electricity price inflation.

The president, the Department of Justice, and the Federal Trade Commission are squarely supporting competition, as outlined in a joint comment submitted to FERC backing transmission competition. In a statement, the director of the FTC Office of Policy Planning, Elizabeth Wilkins, said, “Competition is still the best way to ensure that our electric grid is built out in a way that lowers rates, increases innovation, and improves sustainability and resiliency.” Despite this, FERC is proposing an anti-competition policy — putting it add odds with the rest of the executive branch.

The problem is that incumbent monopoly electric utilities are opposed to competition and cheered when the proposed rule to scale back competition was released. Electric utilities make money by tacking on a 10 percent to 12 percent return to their equity investments — and continue to receive returns on their transmission investments for up to 40 years. These monopolies fear competition, as evidenced by the voluminous comments they have filed to prevent transmission competition.

Under the Obama administration in 2011, FERC issued Order 1000, designed to usher in a new era of competition by eliminating a federal right of first refusal for incumbent utilities. However, in a giveaway to incumbent utility companies, state-level right of first refusal laws have limited the number of competitively bid projects to only 3 percent of all transmission projects nationwide.

From 2014 to 2021, the transmission portion of consumer electric bills has increased a staggering 79 percent while the energy and distribution cost components have remained relatively low. The explanation is simple: by blocking competition, incumbent utilities have been able to steadily increase consumer prices without the fear of losing business.

All Americans have been hit hard by record Consumer Price Index inflation, but more than half of that growth has come from energy price increases. Electricity price inflation came in at 15.5 percent on an annualized basis in the latest CPI report, outpacing the inflation rate.

While higher gasoline prices tend to get all the attention, in 2021, the typical American consumer spent  $179 per month on gasoline and $176.67 on heating, comprising electricity, natural gas and fuel oil and accounts for about 3 percent of household expenditures. A Census Bureau Household Pulse Survey reveals that 33 percent of 44 million renter households across the country were behind on their energy bills in the past year.

Electricity transmission competition is a proven anti-inflation policy that works every time. New Jersey offers an example of how transmission competition fits into the picture of fighting electricity price inflation and connecting renewable energy projects with the grid. The New Jersey Board of Public Utilities recently concluded their largest competitively bid transmission project, with savings ranging from 50 percent to 66 percent — or between $2.3 billion and $4.6 billion.

Congress and the Biden administration have made fighting inflation a priority while also working to lower the price of energy. Both policies can be accomplished by embracing electricity transmission competition. FERC should stand up for consumers and lead the fight for transmission competition instead of blocking it.

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WHITE: It’s Time for Voters to Let Democrats Know Enough Is Enough

For an alternate viewpoint see: GUINEY: Your Freedom is on the Ballot This November

Nearly a year ago in December 2021, President Joe Biden declared inflation had peaked at 6.8 percent and predicted it would decline shortly and “rapidly.” In June, seven months later, we saw inflation surge by 9.1 percent. September was not much better, with prices rising 8.2 percent over the prior year. The state of our economy has had far-reaching impacts on working families and our seniors on fixed incomes.

The average 401k has lost 25 percent of its value due to the economic downturn. Since Biden took office, Americans’ monthly savings have fallen 83 percent. Mortgage rates are at 20-year highs, placing the dream of homeownership out of reach for too many individuals. Meanwhile, more than half of workers are seeing their real wages lag behind inflation by 9 percent, the equivalent of losing a full month’s pay.  Economists at the Dallas Federal Reserve have labeled it the “most severe” pay cut in 25 years. With income falling behind the rising cost of goods and services, it’s no wonder that so many Pennsylvanians are struggling.

In the Philadelphia region, electricity costs are up more than 20 percent compared to just one year ago.  The cost to fill up your car or truck at the gas station is nearly 60 percent higher than it was two years ago.  And consumers can expect more bad news in the coming months as home-heating bills are projected to reach a 25-year high. A trip to the grocery store is not much better. Since Biden took office, the price of eggs is up 98 percent, chicken breasts are up 46 percent, bacon is up 27 percent, flour is up 25 percent, and sugar is up 23 percent.

When asked just a couple of weeks ago if he is worried about rising inflation and its impact on families and seniors, Biden dismissed concerns, saying “our economy is strong as hell.” That denial of basic facts, the stubborn blindness to what Americans are seeing and experiencing for ourselves, shows the president and his Democratic allies are truly out of touch.

Rather than put forward real solutions to the problem, Democrats helped fuel the increase in inflation by injecting billions of additional funds into the economy. When that bungled plan did what many economists predicted it would – further fuel inflation increases – the Democrats decided to push through a bill funding a range of pet initiatives under the guise of legislation called the “Inflation Reduction Act.” Even before the bill was signed into law, Democrats were already backpedaling from the bill’s name, admitting that it would do nothing to curb inflation.

To be clear, it’s not just national problems that are causing issues. Amid the pandemic, Gov. Tom Wolf capriciously mandated the closure of tens of thousands of Pennsylvania’s small businesses but allowed big box stores like Kohl’s and Walmart to remain open. Many never fully recovered. Earlier this year, CNN reported that nearly 32 percent of small businesses in Pennsylvania were permanently or temporarily closed compared to January 2020.

Rising inflation, lost 401k savings, and declining real wages aren’t the only challenges Pennsylvanians are facing.  Activist prosecutors who care more about violent criminals than the rights of victims have created a culture where criminals are not being held accountable for their crimes. In Philadelphia, the homicide rate so far this year is 57 percent higher than the same point just three years ago. And we are increasingly seeing the violent crime spill out into suburban communities with carjackings and armed robberies of small businesses. The problem is only further compounded by the lingering impacts of the defund the police movement and the demoralizing effect it had on law enforcement. The result is that many police departments are struggling to fill vacancies. It could not come at a worse time.

The list goes on and on. Parents who were concerned about the failure of schools to return to in-person learning were dismissed and told there would be no impact on the education of children. New federal testing results say otherwise, showing between 2019 and 2021 the largest ever decrease in math scores and significant decreases in reading scores. And at the same time that schools are failing to provide these basic education skills, progressives are continuing to push political ideology in the classroom while refusing to provide parents with transparency on curriculum so that parents know what their children are actually being taught.

A lot has changed in the past two years, and not for the better. It is time for voters to send a clear message to the Democrats at the national, state, and local level. The Democrats claimed that the last presidential and federal elections, which provided them with narrow control of Congress, were a voter “mandate” to implement their radical ideas and increase the control that government exerted over citizens. If Democrats truly want a mandate, now is the time to give them one. Voters need to turn out and make their voices heard, letting Democrats know that enough is enough.

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Progressive Dems Abandon Anti-Pipeline Politics as Election Approaches

Progressive Democrats in Delaware and Chester Counties were swept into office in 2018 over incumbent Republicans, thanks in part to pipeline politics. Issues with the construction of the Mariner East Two pipeline and the political potency of climate change combined to elect Rep. Danielle Friel Otten in Chester County and Sen. Katie Muth in Chester/Montgomery.

Following the trend, Democrat Gov. Tom Wolf pushed past the GOP-controlled legislature in 2019 to add Pennsylvania to the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), insisting it was necessary “given the urgency of the climate crisis facing Pennsylvania and the entire planet.”

In 2022, however, pipeline politics have shifted. Soaring energy costs, rising inflation, and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine have Democrats talking very differently about energy policy – when they talk about it at all.

Attorney General Josh Shapiro, for example, has repeatedly refused to say if he would support keeping Pennsylvania in the RGGI. And instead of denouncing fossil fuels, the Democratic candidate for governor is taking a broader approach on energy policy.

“I will be an all-of-the-above energy governor who will take advantage of the unique position we have in Pennsylvania to create more jobs, while also utilizing our natural resources and protecting the jobs we already have,” Shapiro told DVJournal.

That may be one reason the Boilermakers Local 154 union endorsed Shapiro over pro-fossil-fuel Republican state Sen. Doug Mastriano.

Mastriano tells DVJournal he favors oil and natural gas production and would like to see a liquid natural gas (LNG) plant built in Philadelphia, creating jobs with its construction and operation.

“Europe relies heavily on Russia for its oil and gas. An LNG export terminal will allow Pennsylvania to export our valuable natural gas to this crucial market,” Mastriano said. “Thousands of new jobs will be created in the Philadelphia area, especially for those in the building trades. Additionally, new revenue from the exports will be reinvested into the Pennsylvania economy. It’s a win-win for everyone.”

It is hardly a surprise that a conservative Republican like Mastriano supports more energy infrastructure. What is interesting is the shift among Democrats, including those on the progressive left.

President Joe Biden may be restricting access to federal oil and gas leases and shutting down major pipelines, but in Pennsylvania, even a progressive like U.S. Senate candidate John Fetterman has abandoned his previous calls for a ban on fracking. Nor does he still talk about implementing a “carbon cap” tax policy that could have raised gas prices to about $7 a gallon.

At a more local level, anti-pipeline warriors like Muth and Friel Otten appear to have moved on. Friel Otten famously made comments about local pipeline workers, comparing them to Nazis, a statement denounced by the Anti-Defamation League and her own Chester County Democratic Party. Friel Otten eventually apologized, albeit reluctantly.

As recently as this year, Friel Otten joined with Muth in an effort to shut down the completed Mariner East 2 pipeline, making complaints that turned out to be unfounded. But as the election has approached, those Democrats have been largely silent on pipeline and energy infrastructure issues.

Today, the word “pipeline” doesn’t appear anywhere on Muth’s campaign website. There are only vague references “corporate polluters.”

What happened? Muth and Friel Otten declined to respond to requests for comment. But Muth’s GOP opponent, Jessica Florio, was more than happy to talk about her support for expanding the state’s energy economy. And she has won the endorsement of the Philadelphia Building Trades.

“Actions speak louder than words,” said Jim Snell, Business Manager, Steamfitters Local Union 420. “Sen. Muth talks about her support for working men and women, but then she turns around and votes repeatedly against jobs for union workers. We want someone we can trust. Florio will defend the rights of working men and women and push policies that will create jobs and help union workers.”

Republican strategist Charlie O’Neill said Democrats’ energy policy sounds good in speeches to green activists, but it fails the real-world test for voters who want reliable, affordable power.

“The concerns raised by Democrats on pipelines aren’t based in reality,” said O’Neill. “Fossil fuels are and will remain the main source of energy in Pennsylvania, the United States, and the world. At a time when energy prices continue to rise, voters believe Democrats and Republicans should be working to make the transportation and production of energy as easy as possible.”

Snell puts it more bluntly. “People who oppose pipelines should turn off their gas furnaces this winter. They won’t, of course. But they’ll still try to have it both ways, complaining about infrastructure development while benefiting from the energy it delivers. It’s the height of hypocrisy.”

Shapiro said he believes there is a third way between the “leave it in the ground” absolutism of the far left and the “Drill, baby, drill” mantra of some on the right.

“I refuse to accept the false choice between protecting jobs or protecting our planet – we can, and we must, do both. And my priority will be ensuring that Pennsylvania has a comprehensive climate and energy policy that moves us all forward. As governor, I will bring everyone around the table to implement an energy strategy that does just that.”

 

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GOP’s Mastriano Targets Shapiro, Biden at Delco Rally

About 200 enthusiastic supporters packed Gatsby’s Bar and Restaurant in Aston Wednesday to listen to state Sen. Doug Mastriano, the Republican gubernatorial candidate.

Before addressing the crowd, Mastriano shook hands and posed for pictures, along with his wife, Rebecca. Dave White, a Delaware County businessman and former Delaware County councilman who also ran for governor, introduced Mastriano.

Rebecca and Doug Mastriano talk with supporters

“We came out of a contentious primary but in that primary, you had nine people that had nine great ideas and the people spoke,” said White, who has traveled the state supporting Mastriano. “And this is the time to come together. If you believe in economic development and tapping our resources and making Pennsylvania the energy capital of the United States, join this team. If you believe in school choice…we need Gov. Mastriano.”

Mastriano spoke for about 40 minutes, touching on various issues and getting in a few jabs at his Democrat opponent Attorney General Josh Shapiro as well as the press, which has not been kind to him. Every few sentences, the crowd cheered, applauded, or called out encouragement.

Dave White introduces Doug Mastriano.

Mastriano mentioned that Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis came to rally with him last Friday.

“The irony of coming to a state where our governor got it all wrong,” said Mastriano. “Ron DeSantis is showing us the way ahead for Pennsylvania. Our goal is to make Pennsylvania the Florida of the north.”

“My opponent spent $12 million and has nothing to show for it. He had no primary…He’s going to lose bad.”

“Sadly, Josh’s message is one of darkness and hate and division,” said Mastriano. “Of name calling, which Democrats are good at. And media, he has a six-year record as attorney general, won’t you even talk about that? No, because you like him.”

“He can’t run on his record because he’s a failure,” said Mastriano. “He’s been the attorney general for six years and crime has gone up 37 percent on his watch. Now Pennsylvania is the 12th highest in homicide, the senior law enforcement official…This guy’s incompetent. We ought to throw the bum out.”

“On his watch, we’re the 8th highest in overdoses,” he said.  “The fourth highest in Fentanyl. Sex trafficking is through the roof. He looks the other way with illegals.”

Instead of fighting crime, Shapiro sued the Little Sisters of the Poor, he said.

“Yes, he’s running lots of ads,” said Mastriano. “If anyone believes those ads I’ve got a bridge to sell you in Brooklyn, cheap. As my Afghan friends said, ‘best friend price.’”

Mastriano served in the Army for 30 years and retired as a colonel before winning a seat in the state Senate to represent Franklin County. He also holds a Ph.D. in history.

He called the Biden administration’s botched withdrawal from Afghanistan “disgusting,” and asked for a show of hands for Afghan veterans. “That just tore my heart out and I’m sure it’s a similar feeling to what the Vietnam veterans saw in 1975 with the fall of Saigon. Sheer incompetence. That incompetence emboldened tyrants like Putin. And I will note that Vladimir Putin behaved under Donald Trump, so we need old 45 to come rolling back.”

Trump endorsed Mastriano and plans to rally with him and Senate candidate Dr. Mehmet Oz in Wilkes-Barre on Sept. 3.

The Shapiro campaign has attacked Mastriano’s pro-life stand and, with the demise of Roe v. Wade, it has become an election issue.

About 20 demonstrators with pro-choice signs stood outside Gatsby’s before the Mastriano event and listened to remarks by Delaware County Party Chairwoman Colleen Guiney and state Sen. John Kane (D-Delaware/Chester).

“We believe that women have bodily autonomy,” she said, saying that they stand with Shapiro on women’s rights. Mastriano “has said, ‘Abortion should end right now and we should have no exceptions.’ That 11-year-old child has been victimized by a family member and is pregnant, she should carry that child to term. We don’t believe that is his choice. That is the choice of the child and their family and their doctor…I don’t believe doctors should do and I don’t believe women should go to jail for having healthcare in the United States of America.”

Kane said, “Yo, Doug Mastriano, you come into Delco with your no-comment express press conference. Delaware County does not want an extremist like you here.”

Asked by Delaware Valley Journal why Shapiro funded commercials that boosted Mastriano’s campaign during the GOP primary if he is such a ‘dangerous extremist,’ Kane said, “He wanted to make sure everybody knows what Doug Mastriano is all about. Doug Mastriano…when you’re taking rights away from women when you’re still talking about the election being stolen. When I got sworn in, I got sworn in with an awful lot of Republicans at the same time. Nobody ended up saying their election was stolen.”

During the rally, Mastriano introduced his wife, Rebecca, to talk about women’s rights.

“We believe in a women’s right to be born,” she said, and listed other rights such as safety, children’s education, and a “right to access baby formula and affordable groceries.”

“We believe in a woman’s right to raise a child where the government is enforcing the law and prosecuting crime,” she said. “We believe in a woman’s right to live in a nation with a secure border. We believe in a woman’s right to the First Amendment and after all, we are Pennsylvanians, we believe in a woman’s right to the Second Amendment. We believe in a woman’s right to compete in sports not dominated by men.”

“They don’t want to talk about inflation,” said Mastriano. “It’s so bad that even Jimmy Carter is looking decent now.”

“They don’t want to talk about the cities being burned to the ground just down the road from here, the Summer of Love,” he said.

Mastriano promised he would end Pennsylvania as a “sanctuary state.”

“When those ghost flights come into our airports, I’ll have the beautiful Pennsylvania State Police meeting those flights and…escorting those buses down to Joe Biden’s house in Delaware.” He praised law enforcement and mentioned that he’d gotten the state FOP’s endorsement.

Delaware County Democratic chair Colleen Guiney with protesters.

Mastriano also promised to take the state out of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative that is driving up the cost of electricity and to bring energy jobs back to Pennsylvania.

“Pennsylvania, we are truly at a crossroads between (Gov.) Wolf and Shapiro tyranny or under Mastriano freedom and liberty. I don’t know about you, but I chose freedom and liberty,” he said.

Several supporters told DVJournal why they support Mastriano.

“Our country is falling apart. I need to stick up for my children. I need to be able to tell my children I fought for our country,” said Maureen Willis of Landenberg, a former Democrat.

And Drexel Hill resident Richard Pruett said, “I support Doug, just like Donald Trump is supporting Doug. He believes in freedom. He believes in American first, energy independence. I love the fact he fought for us in battle, that he’s a colonel and on Day One he’ll open up the pipeline.”

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PA Pols Say Climate Bill Will Cut Energy Costs. Experts Say ‘No’

Most Americans know the “Inflation Reduction Act” President Joe Biden signed will have little impact on inflation. CBS News ran the headline, “One thing the Inflation Reduction Act may not do: Lower inflation” even before the bill had been signed.

And a new Morning Consult poll found just 15 percent of independent voters believe the legislation will live up to its name.

Which may explain why Democrats have suddenly shifted their language about the legislation to a “climate” bill, touting savings on energy costs it will bring American consumers. But will this new measure, with its $739 billion price tag, actually lower the cost of electricity, heating oil, or gas?

Sen. Bob Casey says yes. “This bill is going to lower… energy costs for American families while creating clean energy manufacturing jobs and tackling the climate crisis.”

Rep. Mary Gay Scanlon (D-Pa) agrees. The Inflation Reduction Act will “lower energy costs, saving Pennsylvania families an average of $1000 per year on their energy bills.”

(Interestingly, the same study Scanlon cites also says these savings won’t arrive until 2030, and just $16 to $125 of that $1,000 will come from the new law.)

While the League of Conservation Voters may be right that the Inflation Reduction Act “is the largest investment ever to fight the climate crisis,” relatively little of the $369 billion in climate spending will lower energy costs in the short term.

That is because, energy experts say, the spending is mostly in the form of tax breaks on money businesses spend building green energy production or switching to green energy sources. Some of the money also goes to homeowners and residential customers; but once again, only after they spend their own money weatherproofing their homes, switching to heat pumps, or buying electric vehicles.

In other words, there are no savings until ratepayers do some spending.

Rep. Chrissy Houlahan (D-Chester) acknowledged that fact earlier this week. “The Inflation Reduction Act lowers energy costs for families by providing rebates and tax credits to make homes and vehicles more energy efficient.” [emphasis added].

The largest share of the money goes “to subsidize supply, specifically for low-carbon and zero-carbon energy sources,” said Nick Loris of the Conservative Coalition for Climate Solutions (C3 Solutions). “All else being equal, increased supply will lower prices. But for that to happen, the energy sector needs the ability to build the necessary infrastructure in a timely fashion.”

Without the necessary regulatory modernizations, Loris says policymakers are failing to address the systemic problem that has frustrated investors and energy producers across the board.

“That’s particularly true in places like the northeast where heating oil has doubled in price since last year, but regulatory bottlenecks and NIMBYism has blocked the infrastructure for cost-effective alternatives,” Loris said. “Secondly, it’s important to remember that this isn’t $369 billion isn’t free money. Americans will have to pay for subsidies through more borrowing or higher taxes.”

However, if they spend part of that money buying new energy-efficient washing machines or heat pumps, won’t that reduce demand and, over time, lower prices? Not according to Kenny Stein, policy director for the Institute for Energy Research, a free-market think tank.

“For the heat pump or appliance example, the alleged cost savings are based on modeling that says renewables make electricity cheaper, therefore a new heat pump will save money,” Stein says. “But if renewables increase electricity prices (which they tend to do), then the modeled savings vanish.”

Why would renewables increase electric rates? Because moving large numbers of businesses and households from heating oil or natural gas to electricity (not to mention electric vehicles) means a massive increase in demand.

“Another wrinkle to the modeling is that supporters of the new law count improved efficiency from a new, greener appliance as savings. It’s true that a brand new heat pump is likely to run more efficiently than a 30-year-old furnace. But a brand new furnace would also run more efficiently. So a lot of the ‘heat pump efficiency’ savings are actually just ‘new appliance efficiency’ savings,” Stein said.

That may sound like common sense to some, but Anthony Watts of the Heartland Institute said many policy markers lack a basic understanding of basic math, physics, engineering, etc.

“Our electric grid was built by engineers, not by politicians,” says Watts, a senior fellow for environment and climate at Heartland. “These politicians are pushing a green agenda, insisting ‘this will be better, it will be cheaper, it will be economically feasible, it will save people money.’ They may or may not be sincere, but they are completely ignorant of the scientific reality behind these things.”

In the coming years, Watts predicted legislators who support the Inflation Reduction Act will try to fix its failures by making a push to nationalize energy.

“They will claim the government could manage it better and we’re not going to be hit with all these price increases, but it’s not going to be helpful,” said Watts. “Government can’t do anything better than private industry.”

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Nat Gas Fees Generate $234M as GOP Targets Dems Over Energy Policy

Pennsylvania’s tax on natural gas development generated $234 million in 2021, marking the second-largest amount ever returned to communities across the commonwealth, the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) said Friday.

The natural gas impact fee has generated $2.2 billion in the last decade.

Most of the money goes to county and local governments, however some state agencies also receive funds. The money funds infrastructure, emergency response and environmental programs.

“Generating $2.3 billion in essential funding for state and local governments across all 67 counties, Pennsylvania’s unique natural gas tax is an effective policy that yields impactful results,” Marcellus Shale Coalition president David Callahan said.

Some $234.4 million will be distributed to the state and counties in 2022, with all 67 counties receiving an allotment.

“The nearly 60 percent increase in this year’s distribution is directly related to heightened activity levels and the commodity price environment, underscoring the importance of policies that encourage domestic natural gas development, transportation and use. Our members continue to be focused on responsibly developing clean, abundant Pennsylvania natural gas, which is even more important today in keeping America and our allies’ energy secure,” Callahan said.

American Petroleum Institute Pennsylvania (API PA) Executive Director Stephanie Catarino Wissman said, “Every corner of the commonwealth has directly benefitted from Pennsylvania’s impact fee. This tax on natural gas wells has generated new revenue – totaling more than $2.2 billion over the past decade – for a wide variety of environmental, conservation, infrastructure, public safety and recreation projects. The report shows how natural gas production in Pennsylvania provides hundreds of millions annually in essential revenue while strengthening our economy.”

The impact fee revenue depends on the average annual price of natural gas on the New York Mercantile Exchange (NYMEX), which increased in 2021 compared to 2020, when the demand for natural gas declined due to the COVID-19 pandemic and a mild winter. Impact tax revenue reached $234 million in 2021, nearly 60 percent more than 2020, one of the highest collections since the impact tax was imposed ten years ago.

“As the demand for energy rebounds, policy certainty and long-term energy solutions are needed to help ensure that Americans have access to affordable and reliable energy,” said Wissman. “Pennsylvania’s abundant shale gas presents a unique opportunity to bolster domestic supply while funding critical infrastructure and environmental programs across the state, even in areas without natural gas development.”

This announcement comes when energy companies are under attack by the Biden administration over “excess” profits, a charge that economists dismiss.

Biden took steps to hamstring the energy companies at the onset of his administration, blocking the Keystone XL pipeline and signed executive orders to halt new oil and gas leases on public land, favoring green energy alternatives.

“Getting on a plane right now to go meet with a murderer to talk about the Saudis picking up their production, or writing a letter to the CEOs of Chevron and Exxon to say ‘super-duper large profits won’t be tolerated’ is simply inexcusable,” said economist David L. Bahnsen about Biden’s energy policy.

And while Biden has blamed high gasoline prices on Russian President Putin and the war in Ukraine, he recently pivoted to blame oil companies. But gasoline prices were at an average of $2.27 a gallon nationwide on Jan. 20, 2021 when Biden took office. On Jan. 3, a month before Putin invaded Ukraine, the national average gas price stood at $3.28 a gallon and as of Friday, the average price was $5 a gallon.

And it’s not just Biden.

Congresswoman Madeleine Dean (D-Montgomery) tweeted in March: “The price of crude oil is falling, and that should be reflected at the pump. We must be certain that energy companies are not using an unjust war to profit and price gouge.”

And in a let them eat cake moment, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said families who buy electric vehicles “never have to worry about gas prices again.”

Meanwhile, the sale price for an EV, on average, was $60,054 in February. That compared to $45,596 on average for all new vehicles, including electric ones, according to data from Edmonds.

Also, there’s the convenience factor. On a recent road trip, a Wall Street Journal reporter said she spent more time charging her rented EV than sleeping.

In a tweet that sums the situation up, Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) said, “The United States is blowing through its strategic oil reserves faster than expected. Gas is $5 a gallon nationally. And Joe Biden STILL refuses to drill domestically.”

The National Republican Senatorial Committee is making political hay for the 2022 midterms out of the high gas prices. They’re airing a new commercial targeting Democratic Nevada Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto and Democrat John Fetterman, who is running for the Senate, linking them to Biden and the high gas prices.

The ad says Fetterman backs Biden and the Green New Deal.

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PA’s Garrity Joins State Financial Officers Calling Out Biden’s Energy Policy

Pennslyvania State Treasurer Stacy Garrity joined 26 fellow state financial officers in a letter to President Joe Biden urging him to “implement policies to promote American energy production.”

The letter was organized by the State Financial Officer Foundation (SFOF), a group of Republican state auditors and treasurers whose mission is to “drive sound fiscal policy.”

The missive, signed by financial officers from Alaska to Florida, calls energy “a critical component of every business and service provided in our economy as well as foundational to every American’s quality of life. As energy costs rise, its impact is felt throughout society. Businesses experience increased costs, which must often be passed onto consumers, while many Americans are forced to decide between various necessities of life, simply to keep the lights on and their vehicles powered.”

Energy production and its fiscal impact are particularly important in Pennsylvania, the nation’s second-largest producer of natural gas. Revenue from Pennsylvania’s natural gas tax is expected to hit $233 million this year, a near-record level.

“The current economic climate, amplified by the Russian invasion of Ukraine, requires immediate action at the national level,” Garrity said in a statement. “Hardworking families everywhere are paying more to keep food on the table and paying too much at the gas pumps. Our current federal policies are making the problem even worse.”

The SFOF letter pushed back on the Biden administration’s suggestion that electric vehicles are the solution to high energy prices.

“Instead of asking Americans to purchase electric vehicles—which is simply not an option for a great number of American families—government leaders should eliminate barriers to and expand development of these critical resources, bringing down the price of gas at the pump,” they wrote. “SFOF state leaders urge you to support traditional energy industries in their desire to ramp up production in the U.S. by providing certainty on oil and natural gas leasing by compelling the Department of Interior (DOI) to meet deadlines and honor its obligation to lease on federal lands and waters.”

Garrity agreed.

“America has abundant natural resources right under our own feet,” she said. “The Biden administration should be doing all it can to support efforts to harness these materials to achieve energy independence, instead of backing policies that make us more dependent on other nations. Investing in our own reliable energy sources is an investment in American families, and imperative to our national security.”

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