Russia’s unprovoked war against Ukraine has opened the eyes of the world to the true intentions of Russian president Vladimir Putin. It has also demonstrated the economic impact that can be made when democratic nations come together against those who do not share a commitment to national sovereignty and individual freedom.
The state of Pennsylvania continues to stand with the rest of the free world in supporting the people of Ukraine.
When the Pennsylvania House of Representatives returns to session, we will take steps to punish Russia economically for its aggression. The first thing we must do is move to divest the Commonwealth from Russian financial assets and prohibit future investment in these same investment avenues. I will be introducing legislation to achieve this critical goal.
READ MORE — Rep. Kerry Benninghoff: Pennsylvania can substantively marginalize Putin’s global influence
While the state’s three pension funds and the state treasurer have already started this work, the General Assembly will have the final say on how it should be carried out. We will speak with one voice on the need to remove the Commonwealth from Russian investments. In so doing, we will put Russia on level footing with Iran and Sudan on the list of countries in which state investment is prohibited.
But Pennsylvania can do more to impede Putin’s ability to wage war and continue his quest for increased dominance in Eastern Europe.
The oil and gas industry currently accounts for nearly 40 percent of Russia’s budget. While the United States just shut down petroleum imports from Russia, our European allies — which currently get 41 percent of their natural gas from Russia — are not in a position to do the same.
With the recent news from the Pennsylvania Independent Fiscal Office that the state is the top regional exporter of energy, the Commonwealth can do much more to start ramping up production and increasing transmission capabilities. By doing so, we can not only backfill the loss of oil and gas products coming from Russia domestically but also allow our European allies to reduce their reliance on Russian natural gas. Recently, I joined some of my Republican colleagues from the Pennsylvania House of Representatives to discuss legislation that can help make this happen.
Increasing production means little without the pipeline infrastructure to get it to market quickly and cheaply. The lack of pipelines from natural-gas-producing states like Pennsylvania, Ohio, and West Virginia to places like New England has at times made it cheaper for the U.S. to purchase Russian natural gas in the United States than natural gas produced in Pennsylvania.
With the future of western democracy once again put in question by Russian aggression, we must all do our part to use what we have for good.
That is why House Appropriations chairman Stan Saylor (R-York) has introduced a resolution to call on New York and New Jersey to allow for pipeline production in their states that would get Pennsylvania-produced natural gas to New England states.
One of those proposals is legislation by Rep. Jonathan Fritz (R-Susquehanna/Wayne) to open up the Delaware River Basin to natural gas drilling. This is a commonsense measure that will ensure that gas production happening in places like Susquehanna County can also be conducted within the river basin in a neighboring county, like Wayne.
Also, Rep. Clint Owlett (R-Potter/Tioga/Bradford) has a proposal that would allow for the leasing of subsurface mineral rights on state-owned land so that natural gas can be produced from these state-owned assets through horizontal drilling and without affecting the land surface.
Pennsylvania is the greatest state in the greatest country in the world. We have an incredible ability to be innovative and combine our natural gas and other energy resources today with the clean energy of tomorrow to be the energy leader that the world needs.
With the future of western democracy once again put in question by Russian aggression, we all must do our part to use what we have for good.
Pennsylvania State Rep. Kerry Benninghoff is the current majority leader of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives and represents the 171st District, comprising parts of Mifflin and Centre Counties.
This article was republished with permission from RealClearPolitics.