Earl Baker: Pennsylvania natural gas will save our European allies

The Tribune Review recently published an Op-Ed by Earl Baker, a former Pennsylvania State Senator and three-term Chester County Commissioner, on Pennsylvania’s unique position to alleviate the energy crisis facing the United States and our allies abroad. The skyrocketing cost of oil and gasoline, as Baker notes, is a direct result of Russia’s invasion into Ukraine, which has upended the global supply of energy. To ensure energy stability, Pennsylvania must embrace natural gas production and pipeline infrastructure. 

Baker highlights that crude reality of Russia’s use of energy as leverage against Europe. For example, in 2019, Russian imports made up 41 percent of the EU’s natural gas imports, and 34 percent of Germany’s total oil imports in 2021. In an attempt to supplement the ban on Russian oil imports, the US and the EU signed an agreement to create a joint task force to boost natural gas exports from America to our allies. Pennsylvania is the state best positioned to help our allies in this regard.

The Keystone State boasts the country’s largest natural gas field, the Marcellus Shale. Due to increase in technology and natural gas development, the Marcellus Shale’s reserves have more than quadrupled between 2011 and 2019 but energy infrastructure remains a limiting factor in getting the natural gas ready for exporting.

Even in Pennsylvania there are roadblocks to supporting pipeline projects. The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) recently took comments on proposed pipeline regulations to increase underground clearance, which would result in a multi-billion dollar imposition. In Earl Baker’s comment to the PUC, he pointed out “that the rule is redundant and conflicts with existing federal PHMSA regulations that ensure the safe and secure movement of hazardous materials.” Baker concludes this point by saying, “How can Pennsylvania, the state best positioned to facilitate energy independence at home and abroad, fulfill its obligation when local policies work against the nation’s promises?”

With the abundant natural resources underneath Pennsylvanian’s feet, contradictory energy policies both locally and federally risk hamstringing the US’ ability to help our allies and citizens at home. “Any further delay to pipeline construction and operation will not only hurt our economy, but the national security of many European countries.”