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ANUZIS: Investigation Into Oil and Gas Is Political Nonsense

Americans are facing a consumer confidence crisis as costs continue to climb and inflation crushes peoples’ pocketbooks. The 2024 inflation rate is still high at 3.4 percent, above pre-pandemic averages. And with federal officials making clear they plan to keep rates high and President Biden insisting he has already “turned around” the economy, it’s no wonder people are left scratching their heads.

Americans with fixed incomes are particularly susceptible to economic dips, with inflation and costs at the top of their minds. However, the security of our economic future and consumer welfare clearly isn’t the prerogative of policymakers whose job is to help alleviate financial burdens for Americans. Instead, they are full steam ahead on election-year politicking.

Take the latest move by Democrats in their crusade against American energy. Energy and Commerce Committee ranking member Frank Pallone Jr. recently launched a renewed focus on investigating oil and gas executives for alleged collusion and price fixing with officials from the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries.

Unfortunately, to the detriment of the people, Biden and his progressive cabal are determined to use any agency, committee or platform to politicize the energy sector at a time when we need them the most. All in the name of politics.

Furthermore, their claims don’t hold much water given some important market indicators in the global energy marketplace. The data show that OPEC as an organization is foundering while U.S. energy has been booming in recent years, ramping up production that will offset OPEC supply cuts and contributing immensely to the American economy.

In fact, members of OPEC have been leaving for years, as Angola’s January 2024 exit follows others, such as Ecuador (2020), Qatar (2019) and Indonesia (2016). Market share among the remaining OPEC members declined to 27 percent, the same as during the pandemic. Unlike OPEC, global demand for fuel has since recovered and grown massively, along with U.S. supply steadily increasing since 2021 to reach 12.9 million barrels a day in 2023, according to the Energy Information Agency.

It makes no sense for systemic collusion to keep prices high and production levels down. The allegations against one energy executive directly contradict what the FTC itself has acknowledged: U.S. producers have led the world in production gains over the past few years, the only tool that will diversify market share and drive down prices.

The FTC’s formal complaint against Pioneer — the impetus for the letter from Pallone — acknowledges that U.S. output increases come from domestic production and that “U.S. production growth has injected new competition into the market and ultimately saved American consumers and businesses at the pump.”

This means the industry is actively working on expanding operations and keeping prices low, which Americans are seeing. If anything, the Biden administration has been more aggressive in its attempt to influence the members of OPEC. In October 2022, the president publicly begged the group to postpone oil cuts until after the U.S. midterm elections, all while simultaneously blaming U.S. producers for not doing enough to balance the market. If anything, Biden attempted to collude with OPEC over energy production and prices.

The question becomes: Well, why should we care? This issue is pertinent because the health of America’s energy economy directly reflects the health of the economy as a whole. According to Forbes, the United States became a net petroleum exporter in 2020, leading to a 2022 export total for oil of $119.37 billion and an export value of $75.02 billion for the first eight months of 2023.

Not only is this positive economic growth for businesses, but Americans also benefit at the pump. Oil prices nationwide have been declining overall since June 2022 after the Russian invasion of Ukraine, coinciding with record U.S. production to offset this. What we see here is U.S. production replacing OPEC supply cuts and Russian oil following global political upheaval, not collusion.

House Democrats have clearly piled onto this complaint to needlessly go after oil and gas companies for political gain rather than acknowledging that America’s booming energy economy has had material benefits instead of keeping prices high and competition low. This is a frivolous investigation request, and government officials must refocus on delivering financial relief for Americans.

This means attending to real economic issues like stagnation, inflation and everyday costs, not faulty collusion claims.

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Study: Pennsylvanians See +$450B in Health Benefits from Natural Gas

The switch from coal to natural gas for power generation has reduced emissions and air pollutants, which has resulted in $450 billion to $1.04 trillion in public health benefits for Pennsylvanians.

The Marcellus Shale Coalition’s results are from data from the state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and applied U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) standards. Marcellus Shale Coalition (MSC) spokeswoman said it then used EPA methods to assign a dollar value to each ton of nitrogen oxide (NOx) and sulfur oxides (SOx) reduced. Increased use of natural gas has improved air quality and helped alleviate respiratory ailments, meaning Pennsylvanians are saving healthcare costs, the group said.

The MSC’s findings come in the wake of new power plant emissions standards from the Biden administration that critics fear will jeopardize the reliability of the nation’s power grid and environmental gains by attacking natural gas generating capacity. As of 2032, baseload coal and new gas plants will be required to meet an emission standard equal to installing a carbon capture and sequestration system and running it at 90 percent efficiency.


As shale gas development became prevalent across the commonwealth and in-state natural gas electric generation increased from 5 percent to 59 percent between 2005-2022, emissions believed to contribute to respiratory ailments – NOx and SOx– are down by 81 percent and 93 percent respectively. The MSC said that yields between $7.9-$18.4 billion in NOx and $445.1 billion – $1.02 trillion in SOx cumulative public health benefits for the Keystone State.

“Pennsylvania’s energy leadership with the sustained development of clean natural gas is generating substantial benefits for our environment, economy and, as this data shows, the well-being of our communities,” said MSC President David Callahan. “Thanks to natural gas, Pennsylvanians breathe cleaner air than ever before, directly translating to improved quality of life for our residents.”

According to DEP data, between 2005 and 2022, the last year of available data, 11,127,515 fewer tons of SOx and 1,317,335 fewer tons of NOx were emitted from Pennsylvania’s electric power sector. These air pollutants are commonly associated with respiratory diseases such as asthma, pneumonia, bronchitis, and lung cancer.



“I’ve seen similar numbers of reduction throughout the entire PJM grid,” said state Sen. Gene Yaw (R-Bradford). PJM is the company that runs the regional power grid. “It reflects similar results since 2005. Carbon dioxide emissions are down by 43 percent, nitrogen oxide reduced 91 percent, and sulfur dioxide reduced 96 percent.  hose numbers are pretty impressive.”

Pennsylvanians are gaining health benefits from “the conversion to natural gas,” said Yaw, who noted so-called renewables will not keep the grid running efficiently anytime soon.

“Our electricity comes from 60 percent natural gas, 32 percent nuclear, 5 percent coal, and all renewables account for less than 3 percent, and 3 percent includes hydro,” said Yaw. “Those numbers are reflective of the benefits of natural gas. Natural gas is a necessary part (of power generation) if we are going to have any reliability.

“Renewables alone will not power our electricity grid. Those numbers are reflective of the benefits of natural gas in Pennsylvania. What we should be doing is promoting the clean energy of natural gas, exploring natural gas for both industry and electricity generation.”

Sen. Tracy Pennycuick (R-Montgomery) said, “The MSC analysis confirms what we’ve known for years: that Pennsylvania’s abundant supply of natural gas is the cleanest, most affordable, reliable fossil fuel and is less carbon intensive than other sources of energy. Pennsylvania is positioned to be a leader in energy development, production, and distribution. We must unleash our abundant supply of natural gas to further drive our economy and ensure our energy security.”

David Marks, the principal of energy consulting firm PA Energy Fuels, said, “The Marcellus Shale Coalition analysis of the benefits of burning natural gas versus coal for power generation requires a lot of number crunching.  But even without market details, we already know that natural gas burns much cleaner than coal or oil.

“And monetizing carbon emissions can be difficult, as the process is tied to moving targets: the fluctuating market value of carbon credits and the long-term effects on the health of people living in a variety of urban, suburban, and rural areas. This monetization process can also include physical carbon reduction activity including installing expensive infrastructure, identifying and realizing any tangible value including carbon capture and resale, and providing the leadership to manage this efficiently and constructively.

“Natural gas is a fossil fuel,” Marks continued, “though the global warming emissions from its combustion are much lower than those from coal or oil. Natural gas emits more than 50 percent, and up to 60 percent less carbon dioxide (CO2) when burned in new, efficient natural gas-power plants compared with emissions from a typical new coal plant. This makes natural gas a relatively clean-burning fossil fuel.

“Burning natural gas for energy results in fewer emissions of nearly all types of air pollutants and carbon dioxide emissions than burning coal or petroleum products to produce an equal amount of energy. This makes natural gas, which primarily consists of methane, the cleanest burning fossil fuel. When methane is produced from non-fossil sources such as food and green waste (renewable natural gas), it can literally take carbon out of the air.

“The United States cut its coal power use in half between 2014 and 2022, replacing it with a combination of gas, solar and wind. The decline was largely due to utilities and grid operators relying more on these more efficient natural gas power plants,” said Marks. Not only are gas-fired power plants less expensive to build and operate than coal plants, but the fuel has consistently remained low in price since the Marcellus Phenomenon.  Marcellus production has flooded the market with natural gas, forcing the price down for more than a decade.  he growth of renewable energy has also contributed to coal’s retreat, but not nearly as much as the growth of gas.”

“Natural gas costs less, burns cleaner, is less expensive for power generation, and has always been a healthier alternative to burning coal or oil,” he added.

In Pennsylvania, America’s second-largest natural gas producing state, gas use in the electric power sector led to the largest year-over-year carbon emissions decline on record. Overall, carbon emissions from the state’s power sector are down 46 percent compared to peak 2005 levels. That is equivalent to removing 12.5 million cars from the road for a year – or removing every car in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and several neighboring states combined, the MSC said.

“The undeniable consumer, environmental and energy security gains afforded by Pennsylvania’s natural gas abundance should serve as a wakeup call for those convinced natural gas should not have a role in our future energy mix,” Callahan concluded.

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TOMB: Shapiro’s Senseless Expansion of Alternative Energy

In 2004, Pennsylvania implemented one of the most aggressive mandates to adopt wind and solar energy. At the time, less than 1 percent of net energy generation came from these sources. In 2023, after nearly $1.5 billion in subsidies, wind and solar generated less than 2 percent.

So, what’s the point?

That’s the question Gov. Josh Shapiro must answer before any expansion to Pennsylvania’s Alternative Energy Portfolio Standards (AEPS). Instead, he is doubling down on uneconomical fuels and technologies, resulting in higher electricity bills and a less reliable infrastructure.

AEPS requires Pennsylvania suppliers to provide 18 percent of retail electricity sales from more than a dozen alternative energy sources.

One measurable benefit of AEPS has been burning waste coal for electricity generation, cleaning up millions of tons of refuse from nearly 800 waste piles left by centuries-old mining practices. Analysis from the Appalachian Region Independent Power Producers Association (ARIPPA) shows this industry has reclaimed more than 1,200 miles of polluted streams and 7,200 acres of land.

However, restructuring AEPS threatens to defund this worthwhile effort. Perversely, five of 15 waste-coal plants have closed because of environmental regulations and market forces hostile to coal.

“This is a huge concern for us,” said Jaret Gibbons, ARIPPA’s executive director.

Shapiro’s latest proposal, the Pennsylvania Reliable Energy Sustainability Standard (PRESS), mandates that 35 percent of electricity come from politically favored sources, such as wind, solar, and small modular nuclear, by 2035. PRESS also calls for another 10 percent from hydropower and batteries and 5 percent from low-emission sources, like certain kinds of natural gas generation.

The governor lauds the importance of this proposal to reduce carbon dioxide.

Yet, Pennsylvania has cut emissions annually, including a 10.8 percent reduction from 2022 to 2023—thanks to the expansion of natural gas. If emission reduction is the goal, the governor should pursue policies that bolster natural gas and nuclear, which can back up solar and wind when the weather doesn’t cooperate.

AEPS sales totaled about 25 million megawatt-hours in the 2021–22 reporting year. That’s enough to power 2.4 million homes. Less than one-third of those megawatt-hours came from wind and solar.

In under six months, the Homer City coal-fired power plant could produce energy equal to a year’s worth of AEPS-subsidized wind and solar power. Homer City, however, closed last year due to burdensome regulations.

AEPS touts the state’s 606 megawatts of solar capacity as enough to power more than 79,000 homes, or just about 1 percent of Pennsylvania’s 5.7 million housing units.

In 2007, AEPS predicted the commonwealth would install nearly 6,000 megawatts of wind capacity by 2013. However, as of May 2022, we’ve seen less than one-quarter of that amount. Even if AEPS met this target, the value would hinge, like solar, on wind’s dependence on nature’s vagaries.

The AEPS report claims the program created thousands of Pennsylvania jobs. Whatever jobs were “created,” it is impossible to produce net benefits by forcing more expensive, less reliable energy sources into an economy. Studies by the Beacon Hill Institute at Suffolk University and the Rhode Island Center for Freedom and Prosperity have concluded that such efforts result in economic losses, including fewer jobs and higher prices.

Industry leaders are growing wary of this transition to less reliable energy. David Taylor, head of the Pennsylvania Manufacturers’ Association, called Shapiro’s vision of an expanded AEPS “an environmental disaster, a threat to public safety, a danger to American national security, a disgrace on labor and human rights, and an abuse of Pennsylvania ratepayers.”

Costing taxpayers billions of dollars is bad enough, but the most immediate concern is the effect of more “green” mandates on power grid reliability. Industry and government officials have repeatedly warned of power shortages caused by an overreliance on wind and solar.

As Shapiro says, we don’t have to choose between jobs and our environment. But his proposal is bad for both. Pennsylvania’s energy policy must reward reliability and affordability and develop proven sources, like fossil fuels and nuclear power.

Twenty years after AEPS’s enactment, wind and solar still require subsidies while contributing meager amounts of unreliable energy. Will doing more of the same with PRESS produce anything different?

Again, what’s the point?


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‘All of the Above’ Energy Policies Still Popular with Americans: Survey

Nearly 80 percent of Americans support an “all of the above” energy strategy, and 65 percent believe shuttering existing coal, natural gas or nuclear plants before renewable-fuel replacements are fully operational is a bad idea.

That’s the finding of a new Maru Public Opinion poll on behalf of the National Mining Association. It was released just weeks after the North American Energy Reliability Corp.’sDecember assessment finding most of the United States is now at risk of blackouts over the next decade.

“The EPA is working to hijack our nation’s energy policy through irrational and unattainable compliance measures that are forcing well-operating power plants into premature retirement,” said NMA president and CEO Rich Nolan.

That 80 percent support for the “all of the above” energy policy is up from 56 percent in May 2023, a sign that concerns about the grid’s reliability are growing among the public. And with good reason.

“While most regions should have sufficient electricity supply in normal weather, both the Northeast and Western half of the U.S. face an elevated risk of blackouts in extreme conditions,” NERC reported. “And parts of the Midwest and central South areas could see power supply shortfalls during normal peak operations.”

The EPA recently announced it would exempt gas-fired plants from a rule that would have forced them to install technology to capture 90 percent of carbon emissions by 2038. However, coal plants will be required to comply with the rule. Facilities that cannot be brought into compliance will be forced to go offline.

Nolan and others argue that this is just the latest development in the Biden administration’s war on coal, which has morphed into a war on affordable and reliable energy.

A 2023 report from The Wilson Center noted that the cost to install residential solar power systems is $3,700 per kilowatt, while a new, gas-fired plant costs $1,000 per kilowatt hour. Storage — an issue frequently noted for wind and solar power systems — is also expensive. Those costs include mining for the minerals necessary to manufacture the batteries the systems require.

The 2024 Mineral Commodity Summaries Report by the U.S. Geologic Survey found that the country imports more than half of the 49 minerals analyzed and is 100 percent import-dependent for 15 minerals. China remains the top supplier of minerals and continues to dominate global production and distribution of rare earth minerals, which are necessary for U.S. domestic energy production, manufacturing, technology and other vital sectors.

Despite the risks to U.S. security, the EPA and the administration are “putting all of our reliability eggs in one basket,” Nolan said, referring to the agency’s plan to exempt natural gas from its newest climate-inspired rule.

“Without reliable generation and enabling transmission infrastructure to replace it, experts are warning of energy rationing and blackouts, and this polling shows more and more Americans are aware of those risks, are concerned, and want the administration to change course,” Nolan added.

The Maru poll also found the economy far outweighs every other issue in the minds of Americans. While 5 percent of respondents said energy was their top issue, 34 percent said it was the economy.

Energy affordability plays a big role in the fears surrounding economic uncertainty, said Tom Pyle, president of the American Energy Alliance.

“The policies being pursued by the Biden administration and in states like California, New Jersey and New York have exposed the real vulnerabilities of intermittent energy sources like wind and solar in terms of electricity reliability,” Pyle said. “Higher energy prices and less reliable electricity erode our ability to maintain a dynamic economy as the increased costs are absorbed by nearly all products and services and as companies look elsewhere to set up shop, particularly in the manufacturing sector.

“The survey should serve as a warning to President Biden that his relentless pursuit of a Green New Deal may very well cost him another term in the White House,” Pyle said.

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Point: Record Production Means Energy and Economic Security

For another point of view, see: “Counterpoint: A Fossil Fuel Export Society is Wrong for America”

America’s oil and natural gas producers are innovating to produce more oil and gas than ever while generating less emissions and bringing reliable, affordable energy to Americans and our global allies. In its latest short-term energy outlook, the Energy Information Administration estimated that U.S. crude oil production reached “an all-time high in December of more than 13.3 million barrels per day.”

That production helps stabilize prices for consumers. Oil and natural gas are sold on global markets, and prices can be affected by events or decisions (frequently by bad actors) on the other side of the world. However, having strong U.S. output helps reduce the shock of those actions for Americans.

Our record level of energy production does face threats — specifically by the U.S. government, whose leaders have sought to shut down oil and gas producers with an all-of-government approach, but the industry pushes forward.

Last year, the oil and natural gas sectors continued to innovate and reach record-breaking levels of production. After becoming a net energy exporter in 2019, the United States has emerged as a behemoth in the global energy market, hitting prolific levels of oil and natural gas production and exports in the past year. U.S. liquified natural gas had a tremendous 2023, with the United States becoming the top LNG exporter in the world.

These record-breaking levels of production have not come at the expense of Americans, as some claim. On the contrary, record energy production levels have successfully met domestic and international demand, providing crucial energy security at home and abroad, all while keeping prices stable.

The American oil and natural gas industry continues to prioritize environmental progress. The workers producing the energy we use daily live in homes surrounded by the oilfield, breathing the air and drinking the water from aquifers above the oil reservoirs where they produce; thus, they are highly motivated to preserve and protect the environment for today and for future generations.

Data from the Environmental Protection Agency showed stunning drops in methane emissions across the board in oil- and natural gas-producing basins. The Arkoma Basin (Arkansas and Oklahoma) had a 77 percent decrease over the last five years. Anadarko (Oklahoma, Texas and Kansas) had a 44 percent decrease. And the Permian (Texas and New Mexico) had 32 percent less emissions. All show that even with record production, U.S. operators continue to produce oil and gas responsibly and with an eye toward methane reduction.

Voluntary initiatives like the Environmental Partnership, representing nearly 70 percent of U.S. onshore oil and gas operations, showcase the industry’s commitment to responsible operations through innovation and collaboration. In their 2023 report, the Environmental Partnership highlighted an additional 14 percent reduction in total flare volumes and a 2.4 percent reduction in flare intensity from the previous year — building on the work to cut flaring intensity nearly in half in 2022 — even as U.S. oil and gas production grew.

Considering the uncertain regulatory environment, these accomplishments and innovations are even more impressive. Nowhere has this been more apparent than in the Biden administration’s illegal actions regarding onshore and offshore leasing.

In the Gulf of Mexico, offshore production provides the lowest carbon barrels of oil, generates millions of dollars in funding for parks and recreation programs, and supports hundreds of thousands of jobs across every state. Yet the administration released an offshore plan 450 days late that only offered three lease sales over the next five years — the fewest in history.

Onshore, it’s a similar story. There are widespread administrative efforts to limit access for development despite disagreement from local groups, including tribes. The president and leaders who control the Senate want to limit capital access for producers, add new taxes and increase federal regulations.

Yes, our members are achieving record production NOW. But you can find a timeline on the Independent Petroleum Association of America website that shows how the exploration and production process — from identifying potential acreage and seismic testing to production and development — can take up to 15 years. There are many rounds of environmental analysis and permitting before a well starts producing. Much investment and planning goes into the process. Policies that stall energy production through delayed permitting, infrastructure or regulatory barriers diminish producers’ ability to operate.

The bottom line is a thriving American oil and gas industry means increased energy and economic security at home and abroad and progress toward global emission reduction goals. While administration regulatory hurdles add challenges, U.S. oil and natural gas producers continue to produce record-setting, responsible oil and natural gas.

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Counterpoint: A Fossil Fuel Export Economy Is Wrong for America

For a different point of view see: “Point: Record Production Means Energy and Economic Security”

America is producing more oil and gas than any nation at any point in history, and it’s an accomplishment that fails to give U.S. families energy security or lower prices. At the same time, U.S. exports of oil and gas have surpassed every other country on earth, enriching oil and gas executives while leaving families in the cold.

At the end of last year, more than 13 million barrels of crude oil were pumped daily from American lands and offshore waters, a record. Domestic methane gas production also set a record of more than 105 billion cubic feet daily.

America’s fossil fuel boom has resulted in massive profits for Big Oil giants, as companies pay out huge sums to shareholders and export fossil fuels worldwide while leaving American households, businesses and low-income communities in the lurch.

In recent years, the United States has followed the Qatari economic development model, latching our economy to finite natural resources with highly volatile prices. This move spells disaster for the global climate.

The surge of oil and methane gas exports is not only lethal for the planet, it means that we put American consumers at risk of paying higher — and more volatile — prices. Two years ago, the outbreak of war in Ukraine made clear that the boom in U.S. fossil fuel production and exports did nothing to remove Americans from the wild swings of energy markets.

Historically, what has set the American economy apart is not our aptitude for exporting raw natural resources but the value provided by manufacturing and innovation — the very sectors threatened by the higher fuel prices that will result from exports.

Instead of a raw material-extraction economy, we should build a sustainable, decarbonized 21st-century clean energy economy, which requires swiftly phasing out the fuels of the 19th century.

The U.S. economy is more tightly interlinked with global energy markets, so U.S. consumers are even more vulnerable to international supply shocks and punishing price swings.

This volatility is partly a consequence of the oil and gas industry’s push to make more money by exporting fuel, including an industry lobbying blitz that led to a 2015 decision by Congress to end a ban on crude oil exports that dated back to the energy crisis of the mid-1970s.

At the time, television ads paid for by the American Petroleum Institute claimed that lifting the export ban would push down gasoline prices and diminish Russia’s and Iran’s influence over gasoline prices. These claims proved untrue.

Oil billionaire Harold Hamm, CEO of Continental Resources, was more forthright about the true goal: more profit.  “We’re out here trying to compete at a discounted price,” Hamm told CNBC then. “I need to be able to deliver my oil to my partners in South Korea, but I can’t do it.”

But what’s good for the profits of Big Oil barons like Hamm is terrible for American families and businesses.

Fossil fuel industry talking points regarding exports of liquified methane, or LNG, are even more misleading. Exports of this fuel were nonexistent before 2016. But in just a few short years, the United States has become the world’s largest LNG exporter.

We should not make our residential and business gas customers compete with Berlin and Beijing for LNG produced in the United States. One energy model found that approving pending LNG terminals would increase spending on gas by $11 billion to $18 billion annually, with the most significant burden falling on low-income families. The trade group representing industrial businesses that are large consumers of gas and electricity is warning about the increased costs to its members.

Thankfully, the Biden administration is starting to take these issues seriously. President Biden’s wise decision last month to pause new approvals of LNG export terminals and establish a more robust public interest evaluation of those projects is a welcome sign.

Under federal law, the Department of Energy is required to evaluate whether LNG export projects are in the public interest. Yet, the agency has done a poor job of considering the negative effects on the climate, on vulnerable communities near LNG plants and on prices paid by consumers. The deck has been stacked in favor of export terminal developers.

Big Oil executives have pursued an “America Last” policy, price gouging consumers and pushing harmful export policies, a myopic vision that puts profit above everything. In the long run, we must wean ourselves from a dangerous dependence on fossil fuels that have sowed turmoil and chaos.

Reconsidering the effect fossil fuel exports have on our economy and climate is a vital step toward protecting American households and businesses from the impact that fuel exports have on our economy.

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Natural Gas Pays Off for PA Taxpayers With $3.2B in State, Local Revenues

According to a new analysis, Pennsylvania’s natural gas industry kept booming last year to the tune of more than $41 billion in economic activity.

The Marcellus Shale Coalition (MSC) released details of the study conducted by FTI Consulting this week. It found Pennsylvania’s energy sector supported 123,000 jobs, roughly the size of Allentown, the state’s third-largest city. Industry workers earned an average salary of $97,000. The median annual wage for Pennsylvania is $45,790, according to Pennsylvania’s Center for Workforce Information & Analysis.

“Energy is the lifeblood of Pennsylvania’s economy, and our sector works hard daily to safely deliver affordable, clean, and reliable energy for our country and the world,” MSC president David Callahan said. “This new economic data, focused specifically on the natural gas sector within Pennsylvania’s borders, not only demonstrates the essential role of the natural gas industry but also the urgency to prioritize infrastructure development and permitting reform to maximize these job-creating benefits.”

That meant big bucks for Pennsylvania’s tax coffers, too.

State and local governments received a total of $3.2 billion, including the $279 million Impact Fee split between the state’s 67 counties. By comparison, Pennsylvania Gov. Josh Shapiro asked for $1.6 billion for the state police and $46 million for the state Department of Agriculture.

The federal government also received $2.6 billion in taxes from Pennsylvania natural gas companies.

Green energy advocates still aren’t convinced. PennFuture argues that the natural gas industry’s promises don’t match what has been delivered.

“According to data from the federal Bureau of Economic Analysis, 123,000 jobs is more than 2 percent of all the jobs in Pennsylvania in 2021,” said Rob Altenburg, Senior Director of Energy and Policy. “There are less than 4,000 jobs in oil and gas production in the state, so the coalition would have to claim lots of other jobs are “supported” by gas in other industries…The Marcellus Shale Coalition is clearly not considering the jobs we have lost in clean and renewable energy, energy efficiency, and other industries because of opposition from the gas industry.”

PennFuture wants the state to transition to “cleaner and more sustainable alternatives” even though the gas industry is performing well by all accounts. “This means more clean energy, but it also means more investment in energy efficiency and new technologies,” said Altenburg.

Advocates for natural gas respond the U.S. isn’t technically or economically ready for an immediate transition and that every coal power plant replaced with natural gas cuts emissions by about 50 percent. And Pennsylvania is in a unique position to benefit. The Marcellus Shale is America’s largest natural gas field – located mostly in Pennsylvania. The state’s gas reserves have quadrupled since 2011, when large-scale development started.

The state’s natural gas production is 13 times greater than it was in 2010, according to U.S. Energy Information Administration statistics. Industry advocates say that is great news for a region that the gas industry considered a desiccated corpse just two decades ago.

“This study tells us what we already know and don’t hear enough: Pennsylvania natural gas is a force for good and provides the reliable, affordable energy our families and small businesses need,” Consumer Energy Alliance Mid-Atlantic Director Mike Butler told DVJournal. The money, jobs, and positive impacts speak louder than the shouting of activists whose narrow interests are not in Pennsylvania’s interest.”

MSC hosted its Shale Insight 2023 Conference this week in Erie. It looked at what the natural gas industry in Pennsylvania might look like through 2050.

“The only thing surprising about [the MSC] report is how a few select vocal opponents still simply refuse to acknowledge how much natural gas development powers our economy,” said Kurt Knaus, spokesman for the Pennsylvania Energy Infrastructure Alliance, a statewide coalition that works to advance pipeline projects.

“Pennsylvania’s abundant natural resources continue to be a blessing, not just with the jobs they create, but with the savings they bring to consumers and revenue they generate for government at every level.”

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OPINION: Congress Should Pass the ‘Building American Energy Security Act of 2023’ to Help Pennsylvanians

Pennsylvania’s central location long ago earned it the nickname “The Keystone State,” but it turns out our state is arguably America’s most critical nexus for energy production. With the nation’s largest natural gas reserves, a product of the massive Marcellus Shale formation with its estimated 410.3 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, Pennsylvania has become our country’s second-largest natural gas producer and the third-largest producer of electricity.

The energy we produce here matters, supplying families and businesses with energy in northeastern states such as Delaware, New Jersey, and West Virginia.

Our state also ranks fifth highest in the number of adults 65 and older, with one estimate projecting that soon one in five Pennsylvania residents will be 65 or older. Many in this age group live on fixed incomes, meaning they are vulnerable to high energy prices. It doesn’t have to be this way. Pennsylvania has the capacity to produce more energy – both renewables and fossil fuels – to help bring down energy prices, but a string of clumsy and outdated regulations stands in the way.

To take advantage of our energy opportunities, Pennsylvania badly needs permitting reform at the federal level, which is why U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin’s recent proposal to cut and streamline federal red tape is so timely.

Measures in the bill, many of which are aimed at the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), would help get energy infrastructure projects online faster, pumping homegrown energy into markets nationwide and helping lower prices for seniors and all consumers.

Congress should make adopting this bill, called the Building American Energy Security Act of 2023, a top priority.

Although NEPA was created in the 1970s with the good intention of safeguarding our environment, it has since turned into a major roadblock for critical American energy projects. Excessive regulations prevent states like Pennsylvania from fully contributing to our domestic energy supply, with the Constitution Pipeline serving as a perfect example.

Approved in 2014, the project was scheduled to be operational by 2015, but was derailed by a slew of regulatory setbacks and activist opposition. New York denied the project’s water permit in 2016 and the U.S. Supreme Court declined to grant an appeal, causing the project’s builder to officially cancel the pipeline in 2020.

Pipelines aren’t the projects being stalled. Renewable projects are also seeing serious delays because of NEPA, including the Rock Run Recreation Area wind farm that should have been under construction long ago, but has been held back by lengthy approval processes and reviews.

A problem nationwide, Pennsylvania alone has an estimated 443 solar projects awaiting approval, projects that could power 1.4 million homes. This includes the Swiftwater Solar farm in Monroe County, what could be the state’s largest solar farm, potentially generating enough power to serve 14,000 homes if not for NEPA rules allowing Citizens for Pennsylvania’s Future and the Brodhead Watershed Association to bury it in red tape. The Brookfield Solar Energy Center has met a similar fate, with activists weaponizing regulations to delay it.

The bottom line? The permitting approval process now in place under outdated NEPA regulations holds back Pennsylvania and other energy-rich areas from increasing America’s energy supply. Not only are ongoing projects delayed and discouraged, but potential developers hesitate to invest in projects when they see the complications others experience from burdensome federal regulations. This holds back job growth and pumps the brakes on an energy sector that is a major driver for Pennsylvania’s economy.

This threat should worry all policy makers. According to an analysis by PricewaterhouseCoopers, natural gas and oil supported over 423,000 Pennsylvania jobs. Jeopardizing a fossil fuel sector that in 2021 contributed more than $75 billion to the state’s economy is troubling enough, but permitting problems also holds back all types of energy projects. Permitting reform like the kind being pushed by Sen. Manchin (D-W.Va.) will help Pennsylvania’s oil and gas sector and will also boost the state’s ambitious plan to transition from fossil fuels in the future.

With the Pennsylvania Environmental Protection Department’s goals of reducing greenhouse gas emissions 26 percent by 2025 and 80 percent by 2050, we’ll need all the energy infrastructure we can get to succeed.

Getting more energy to market by reforming federal permitting processes will not only offer much-needed relief for senior citizens, but will provide the kind of energy security that America deserves and that our allies sorely need. Hopefully our lawmakers in Washington will follow Sen. Manchin’s lead and take the steps necessary to unleash America’s energy potential.

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Spotted Owl, Meet the Sagebrush Lizard

he Biden administration opened up a new front in the oil and gas wars over the July 4 weekend by advancing a rule through the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to put the Dunes Sagebrush Lizard on the Endangered Species List.

The lizard’s habitat runs through the Permian Basin, where nearly 40 percent of oil and 15 percent of natural gas is produced in the U.S. 

The action joins a long list of executive orders and proposed agency rules by the administration that critics say are designed to kill the fossil fuel industry. President Joe Biden has made no secret of his goal to push the country to alternative energy sources in pursuit of what one expert calls “overly ambitious climate targets.” 

“The problem is we don’t have the infrastructure in place both in terms of the generation and transmission of electricity,” said Marc Scribner, senior transportation policy analyst at the Reason Foundation. 

Even as the administration heavily subsidizes electric vehicles, Scribner pointed out the charging infrastructure remains sketchy. He said that most people can upgrade their home’s electrical panel, but that’s another added cost. 

At the same time, electric vehicles add to the stress of the nation’s electric grid, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is proposing to make it less stable. 

A new rule announced in May would require most fossil fuel power plants to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 90 percent between 2023 and 2040 or shut down. According to an agency analysis, approximately 120 natural gas and 200 coal-fired plants would be affected. 

“Powerplant shutdowns due to the rule could mean electricity grid failures in cities and communities across the country,” says Guy F. Caruso, a former U.S. Energy Information Administration administrator. “This could not come at a worse time, as our electrical grid is already strained with more electric household appliances and cars pulling power from the grid. In other words, if plants are forced to close prematurely, Americans will be paying more for a less stable grid.”

The administration has never disguised its negative view of fossil fuels, but its aggressive actions are at odds with most Americans, according to a new survey from the Pew Research Center. While 67 percent of U.S. adults support prioritizing the development of alternative energy sources over fossil fuels, just 31 percent support phasing out fossil fuels entirely, and another 32 percent don’t believe the country is ready to begin a phase-out. 

“Emotional rhetoric can only carry you so far,” Scribner said. “We’re not seeing reality align with some of the most aggressive calls to action.” 

Two high-ranking Senate Republicans want the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to look at the administration’s aggressive clean power plan – Proposed Clean Power Plan 2.0 – through a series of conferences to analyze the negative impact on grid reliability. 

“The proposal presents unjustifiable claims about the future availability of technologies – including carbon capture, clean hydrogen, and the related infrastructure – used to power our electric grids,” Sens. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) and Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) wrote in a letter to FECR Chairman Willie L. Phillips and Commissioners James Danly, Allison Clements, and Mark C. Christie.

The letter highlights statements from several commissioners, warning of an “impending, but avoidable, reliability crisis [caused by] public policies that are otherwise designed to promote the deployment of non-dispatchable wind and solar assets or to drive fossil-fuel generators out of business as quickly as possible.” 

The proposed designation of the sagebrush lizard as an endangered species is likely to spark a similar reaction as people after the EPA and the Consumer Product Safety Commission suggested outlawing gas stoves. 

“Anti-energy activists have been desperate to shut down drilling in the Permian Basin for years,” said Tim Stewart, president of the U.S. Oil & Gas Association, according to reports in Forbes. “Texas oil and gas operators spent tens of millions of dollars in voluntary conservation efforts to protect the dunes sagebrush lizard. Environmental groups meanwhile added nothing to the conservation efforts but petitions and lawsuits.”

More than 3 million acres of lizard habitat in Texas and New Mexico are enrolled in a conservation agreement that has helped protect the Dunes Sagebrush Lizard for more than a decade, according to Ben Shepherd, president of the Permian Basin Petroleum Association. 

Such efforts, though, are met with scorn and derision from environmental activists who cheer damage to priceless works of art while middle-class families struggle to pay rising utility bills. 

 “It’s no surprise that Americans continue to support the reliability and affordability of traditional energy sources to power their homes and automobiles,” said Craig Stevens, a spokesman for GAIN, an energy coalition group that promotes sound policies that safeguard economic and national security. “Policymakers should embrace a true ‘all of the above’ energy policy that strengthens our nation’s energy security while ensuring access to the power Americans need.”

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After Two Months, Delco Natural Gas Facility Still On Hold

An appeals court ruling has left the construction of a new Delaware County natural gas facility in limbo for months, with no clear sign as to when the project is expected to resume.

PECO Energy Company originally set out to build a natural gas “reliability station” in Marple Township several years ago. The company describes the facility as one that will “enable PECO to distribute more natural gas into Delaware County through 11.5 miles of new natural gas main.”

Company officials argued the station will play a key role in ensuring ample gas supply to Delaware County as demand grows for the key fossil fuel energy source.

Township officials in November 2020 rejected PECO’s application to build the plant, after which PECO filed a petition with the state Public Utility Commission asking for the PUC to exempt the company from township zoning rules.

The PUC subsequently ruled in PECO’s favor. Town officials then appealed to the Commonwealth Court, which halted station construction in March, claiming the commission overlooked several key regulatory considerations when ruling for the energy company.

The court said the commission must “incorporate the results of a constitutionally sound environmental impact review” into a new project analysis.

PECO spokesman Greg Smore confirmed to DVJournal that the case is still waiting to be resolved, having been sent back to the PUC for re-evaluation.

“We are disappointed with the decision,” Smore said. “However, we are evaluating our next steps to complete this project, which is critical to meeting the growing need and demand for safe, reliable, and affordable natural gas for our customers in Marple Township and across Delaware County.”

David Hixson, a spokesman for the PUC, said the case “has been reopened and assigned to the PUC’s Office of Administrative Law Judge for further consideration.”

“If further hearings are scheduled by OALJ, notices will be posted to the public docket,” he added, “but to date, no hearings have been scheduled.”

Officials with Marple Township did not respond to queries asking about the case and the township’s opposition to it. In March, after the appeals court decision, the town said in a statement that it was “pleased and encouraged” by the ruling.

“The township continues to believe that the subject property is not an appropriate site for these facilities,” the town said, “and that this will be borne out by a constitutionally sound environmental impact review by the Commission as required by the Commonwealth Court’s decision.”

For years, a citizen-created initiative, the Marple Safety Coalition, has worked against the plant’s construction. The initiative’s website was last updated shortly after the court decision in early March.

“Probably, [the ruling] means that PECO will not begin building anything soon,” one message reads. “However, they can continue to work at the site; over the winter, there was a lot of activity due to their testing of the pipeline, and that testing will probably continue.” The Marple Safety Coalition did not respond to a query from DVJournal.

Only Texas produces more natural gas than Pennsylvania, which is sitting on billions upon billions of cubic feet of the critical energy source. The U.S. Energy Information Administration says Pennsylvania has 48 underground gas storage sites, “the most for any state.”

PECO says Delaware County’s natural gas consumption is projected to surge in the coming years, necessitating more infrastructure like the reliability plant to ensure demand is met.

“PECO anticipates a 20 percent increase in natural gas usage in Delaware County and a 10 percent increase in Marple Township over the next decade,” the company says on its website.

“Without this project,” the company says, “the natural gas system in this area will be constrained, resulting in inadequate natural gas supply and pressure to help customers run their appliances, like heaters, during the coldest days of the year.”