By Mike Krancer
In Pennsylvania, we're seeing how rational and responsible energy policies can transform America into an energy superpower, create high-paying jobs, generate new revenues, and drive the cost of energy down. Best of all, we're applying our state's unique expertise to ensure that our environment is protected whenever and wherever energy development occurs.
From experience, we know there is no "choice" that must be made between environmental protection and energy development. In Pennsylvania, we insist upon and adhere to both. And through regulation and strong oversight, we safeguard our sensitive ecological features better than anyone else.
The latest example of this commitment came in February, when Gov. Corbett signed the new Oil and Gas Act. The product of cooperation and collaboration between industry, conservation groups, local governments, and a host of other stakeholders, the act is the most comprehensive environmental protection law in a generation. At the same time, it will prevent redundancy, inefficiency, and unfair restrictions.
This model serves us well. Pennsylvania is now the fourth-largest natural gas producing state. Energy costs are down - employment is up. But the economic benefits of energy production don't end there.
We're also witnessing the rebirth of our petrochemical industry and manufacturing base. A possible cracker facility in western Pennsylvania could draw billions of dollars in investment. On the eastern side of our state, we have saved two refineries and a third will be repurposed to mesh with natural-gas extraction efforts.
Pennsylvania's commitment to energy production and environmental protection is yielding real results. But none of this is guaranteed. Misguided decisions at the federal level threaten to negate our progress - and that's why it is so important for voters to understand what is at stake in the coming election.
Over the past four years, the Obama administration has provided billions of dollars to subsidize favored green-energy technologies, while denigrating traditional fossil fuels. We all support clean energy - but with our national debt now above $16 trillion, oil prices back near $100 a barrel, and firms like Solyndra costing taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars, we ought to refocus on a true "all of the above" energy approach.
There is also good cause for concern when it comes to the regulation of hydraulic fracturing. States have been competently regulating this activity for decades, but now 10 federal agencies and four executive offices are involved in the process - so many, in fact, that the president was recently forced to form a working group to coordinate them all.
By contrast, Gov. Mitt Romney has a strong record of supporting both energy and the environment. He recognizes the vital role that unconventional resources - particularly shale gas - will play in this new century. And in this campaign, he has developed a solid plan that will allow Pennsylvania to help deliver energy independence for North America by 2020.
The most important aspect of Romney's plan is his decision to empower states to take the lead in energy production on all federal lands that are not off-limits to development. He's not satisfied with the overreaching federal regulators who often grind development to a halt. Under Romney's plan, states will be in charge, and able to produce their resources and protect the environment under customized regulatory programs that are carefully tailored to match their unique needs.
Romney's plan will not only lead to more energy production, but it will also help us create more high-paying jobs and generate billions of new revenues. It will restore communities across our state and encourage manufacturers to come here to do business.
America can be an energy superpower - but it will take leadership. Pennsylvania is fortunate to have Gov. Corbett, but now it's time to give him a partner in Washington, D.C. And when you look at the records and the plans of the presidential candidates, it is clear: Mitt Romney is the right choice for Pennsylvania.