(The Center Square) — Two federal lawmakers see a different reality unfolding for the energy landscape.
In one vision, President Joe Biden’s policies boost energy independence. In another, all the deregulation accomplished under the Trump administration – and the economic boom it brought – has evaporated.
While not the average Democratic lawmaker on energy policy, U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, in pre-recorded remarks played at the Shale Insight Conference in Erie, said political cooperation and technological innovation will see the nation through the green transition.
“The challenges facing our energy industry today are ones that will take a collective, bipartisan effort to solve,” Manchin said. “In D.C., we’ve taken steps to help solve those challenges and reinforce an all-of-the above energy policy that will ensure fossil fuels — that the United States can produce cleaner than anywhere else in the world — will continue to be available to power our nation now and well into the future.”
Manchin praised federal legislation for improving regulatory problems for the industry and investing in major energy projects, including $12 billion for carbon capture, utilization, and storage projects; $8 billion for at least four hydrogen hubs to demonstrate the production and use of clean hydrogen across all sectors; and $4.7 billion to plug, remediate, and reclaim orphaned wells.
“The Inflation Reduction Act builds upon the work and provides tax credits and other incentives to deploy CCUS, hydrogen, methane-emission reduction technologies, and to make other investments in our fossil fuel infrastructure to increase efficiency and reduce emissions,” he said.
Pennsylvania has also been supportive of carbon capture on the state level, though concerns remain about whether the technology is economically viable without state subsidies.
The future, Manchin said, is one of renewable and fossil fuels together.
“I truly believe that you cannot eliminate your way to a cleaner environment, but we can sure innovate our way to a much-better environment,” Manchin said. “We can’t do solar and wind without also utilizing our vast oil and gas resources. This signals to the industry that there has never been a better time to increase domestic energy production.”
The bipartisan theme did not, however, carry over into the pre-recorded remarks of U.S. Rep. Guy Reschenthaler, R-PA, and chief deputy whip.
“President Trump unleashed the shale revolution,” Reschenthaler said. “However, the past two years of the Biden administration has been a different story.”
He cited the regulatory delays and “legal blockages” to the Mountain Valley Pipeline as emblematic of Biden’s energy policy.
“In the years to come, it’s imperative for members of Congress to advocate for an economic environment that unleashes American energy and supports Pennsylvania’s natural gas,” Reschenthaler said.
On the state level, Gov. Josh Shapiro’s embrace of moderate energy policy leaves some feeling optimistic.
“Our new governor is pro-economic development and he’s gonna help with permitting,” Patty Horvatich, senior vice president for business investment at the Pittsburgh Regional Alliance, said. “He recently established the Office of Transformation and Infrastructure to help us on maybe aligning ourselves more closely with federal funding opportunities.”
Others, however, say the state has been losing ground economically and needs to change.
“Ohio over the past 5 years has really just — quite frankly — beaten the living snot out of Pennsylvania in terms of acquiring or attracting new businesses,” Jeff Nobers, executive director, of the Builders Guild of Western Pennsylvania, said.