What the candidates for Pennsylvania governor say about energy

With Pennsylvania’s primary election day coming up on Tuesday, May 17, there is a crowded field of candidates for governor. Or at least there is on the Republican side, with nine candidates who will appear on the ballot. There’s only one candidate on the Democratic side—the current attorney general, Josh Shapiro.

Energy is an important topic in this election—both for our industry and to Pennsylvanians as whole. To help our members make their decision, we invited each candidate to answer several questions about energy and our industry. In addition to the Democrat Shapiro, on the GOP side we reached out to the campaigns of Lou Barletta, Jake Corman, Joe Gale, Charlie Gerow, Melissa Hart, Doug Mastriano, William McSwain, Dave White and Dr. Nche Zama. Answers/statement from those who responded are below.

Lou Barletta (www.loubarletta.com)

1. What is your position on fossil fuels, particularly with regard to Pennsylvania?

Drill baby drill! Fossil fuels are Pennsylvania’s future. I believe in an “All of the Above” energy strategy, including coal, oil and natural gas, and as Governor, I would ensure that our producers have the friendliest regulatory climate in America to grow and create jobs. The economic benefits of fossil fuel development are undeniable: the industry employs nearly half a million Pennsylvania workers; Pennsylvanians see an average savings of up to $2,000 on their energy bills; and the state’s Impact Fee generates more than $2 billion in revenues directly benefitting all 67 counties. Not only does fossil fuel development represent a pathway forward for Pennsylvania’s economy and workforce, it is also environmentally friendly. The Appalachia region has the lowest methane emissions of shale plays globally. Pennsylvania producers are leading the way, as over 90 percent of the water used in fracking is recycled or reused and over half a billion dollars are generated annually through our Impact Fee for environmental protection. Rather than seek to impose additional taxes and regulations on the energy industry, I would streamline permitting processes and lower costs so that the industry can do what it does best—grow, hire workers and produce clean, affordable energy for Pennsylvania families and businesses.

2. What would be your energy policy, including the development of necessary infrastructure such as pipelines?

I recently released my energy policy plan, which includes supporting the expanded use of pipelines, removing Pennsylvania from the job-killing Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), reforming the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), allocating grant money for broadband and energy infrastructure, promoting Pennsylvania’s abundant rare earth elements, creating performance-based environmental incentives, and investing in workforce development, including career and technical education. The full plan can be found on my website at www.LouBarletta.com.

The first thing I would do as Governor is remove Pennsylvania from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, or RGGI. It is ludicrous for Pennsylvania’s Governor and Attorney General to put our Commonwealth in a program that will eliminate thousands of good-paying jobs and kneecap our ability to be a global leader in energy production. Energy security is economic security for Pennsylvania families and national security for America. RGGI turns over control of our economic future to a group of states that do not share our values—states in New England, for instance, have imported Russian natural gas—nor have the energy supply we do.

Pennsylvania was blessed with more natural gas under our feet than nearly every state and most countries. But having all this energy under our feet and not building pipelines is like being in college and having a keg of beer without a tap. What good is it? Pipelines are the safest and most efficient way to transport energy. As Governor, I would greenlight new pipelines and support existing ones to unleash the full potential of Pennsylvania’s natural resources and protect the United States from potential geopolitical conflicts. This includes:

  • Expanding pipeline capacity through faster and more reliable permitting, which is the key to increasing responsible natural gas production.
  • Supporting efforts like HB 1947 that prohibit municipalities from discriminating against utility service providers based on the type of energy source. This will prevent an unworkable patchwork of restrictions that could deny residents and businesses access to a variety of affordable energy options.
  • Standardizing regulatory definitions to ensure consistent application of rules to prevent unelected bureaucrats from interpreting statutes inconsistently.
  • Creating performance-based environmental incentives and prioritize existing state dollars available to incentivize innovation to address the environmental challenges facing our Commonwealth.
  • Creating a reliable business environment for energy and manufacturing employers by allowing companies to deduct Net Operating Losses against other sources of income to offset initial upfront investments.

3. What is your position on natural gas usage/markets and liquified natural gas (LNG) exports?

We must increase access to as many markets as possible for LNG exports. Doing so will drive increased investment in Pennsylvania, which in turn will lower prices and create economic growth and jobs for Pennsylvanians. This current moment in history, when the world is finally realizing the dangers of reliance on foreign energy from places like Russia, underscores the urgency of expanding American LNG exports for the sake of economic and national security. Unfortunately, the Biden Administration has taken steps to limit access to markets by using its regulatory power (through FERC) to slow-roll and stop new and pending pipeline projects and the expansion and creation of LNG export terminals. As the second largest gas producing state, Pennsylvania could—and should—be a leader in supplying the world with low-cost, low emissions energy. But we need the infrastructure to get it to market, and we need a government that will not stand in the way.

4. What is your view on the regulatory body with oversight of the oil and gas industry in Pennsylvania―the Department of Environmental Protection?

It’s become a sad joke that DEP in Pennsylvania now stands for “Don’t Expect Permits.” DEP failures should not hinder a business’ ability to grow and expand. When I’m governor, that changes. I will reform the DEP, lead the agency into the 21st Century, and improve and speed up the permitting process. The first steps I would take include:

  • Digitizing the DEP permitting process, which is currently conducted only on paper.
  • Instituting a mandatory turnaround time to approve permits.
  • Authorizing third-party reviews for permitting where DEP has failed. If DEP misses a deadline, an employer will have the option to pay for a third party to review and approve a permit.
  • Creating a task force to do a thorough review of existing regulations over coal, oil and gas, and other energy policies put in place by the current administration. This will identify and repeal unnecessary burdensome regulations that prevents these industries from operating efficiently while also identifying programs that worked in order to improve best practices.


Jake Corman (www.cormanforpa.com)

1, What is your position on fossil fuels, particularly with regard to Pennsylvania?

Pennsylvania is home to the greatest deposits of natural gas in the world. Pennsylvania’s energy development is the backbone of our economy. Thousands of Pennsylvanians go to work every day in our energy sector. Almost every product that consumers use today contains some form of natural gas byproduct. Pennsylvania can be the world leader in natural gas production and under the Corman administration we will be.

I truly believe in Pennsylvania’s energy economy. It is why I have fought so hard over my career for sound energy policies, including leading the fight to stop Governor Wolf from entering the Commonwealth into the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, and fighting for commonsense permitting reform.

Energy jobs will continue to lead our economy for generations to come and with those great jobs, Pennsylvania will have great schools and great communities.

2. What would be your energy policy, including the development of necessary infrastructure such as pipelines?

Part of my platform for governor has been furthering the development of Pennsylvania’s energy economy. Energy has always been at the heart of our economy and we need to expand and lead upon this in the 21st Century. We need to ensure that Pennsylvania’s natural gas can get to the market through the significant expansion of our pipeline network. Building upon this necessary infrastructure will ensure that Shell’s Pennsylvania Petrochemical Complex and the future Luzerne County Nacero facility are just the beginning of the Pennsylvania Energy Economy.

Pennsylvania is also in a unique position to have an international port in The Port of Philadelphia. We need to be able to transport our natural gas efficiently, effectively and safely through pipelines to The Port of Philadelphia where we can refine and export Pennsylvania LNG to International markets.

3. What is your position on natural gas usage/markets and liquified natural gas (LNG) exports?

As our governor, I would do all that I could to encourage the export of LNG. Bringing Pennsylvania’s natural gas to international markets opens Pennsylvania’s economy to the world. Ensuring that Pennsylvania has a vibrant economy for future generations solely depends on how we manage and promote the production and usage of our natural gas resources.

By significantly increasing the Commonwealth’s pipeline infrastructure and partnering with Pennsylvania business and industry, we can lead the United States to Energy Independence and be THE world leader in energy production.

4. What is your view on the regulatory body with oversight of the oil and gas industry in Pennsylvania―the Department of Environmental Protection?

Previous administrations, including the Wolf administration, have used the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) as a way to hinder and ultimately prevent the development of natural gas in the Commonwealth. DEP has stifled more investment in Pennsylvania than any other Commonwealth agency many times over. We need a DEP that will work with industry and ensure that the rules are being followed, and that investment is flowing into the Commonwealth. Under the Corman administration, DEP will be responsive to permit requests and will render a decision on all permits within 45 business days. Permits that have not been decided within that timeframe will be deemed approved. The Corman administration will provide adequate oversight to ensure that our natural resources are being developed responsibly. We will ensure that our DEP lives up to its true mission which is environment protection, where permits are processed quickly and inspection and compliance is based upon the permits and are not left to ambiguous interpretations.

Joe Gale (www.joegale.com)

Gale submitted these comments on energy made during a gubernatorial debate.

Our nation should do everything possible to become energy independent. Frankly, we should not rely on foreign nations that hate us for energy and that’s what’s happening. And Pennsylvania can lead the way to reach the goal of energy independence. We have an abundance of God-given natural gas, right under our feet, and its untapped potential and we should fully utilize natural gas industry in Pennsylvania. We have so much of it we can actually export it to other regions of the world. We can lead the way and create thousands of new jobs, it will drive down utility costs and it will also keep us safe. It becomes a national security matter when it comes to our natural gas industry.  We cannot rely on foreign nations to supply our energy, we have to do it here in Pennsylvania. And to think that we don’t tap into our natural resources is mindboggling. That’s common sense and I would do away with any regulations that hinder that, we need to tap into that.

Q: One of the challenges we face with exporting natural gas is that Pennsylvania doesn’t have enough pipelines to get it to a port that that can liquefied it and send overseas. What do you do about that?

We need to grow our natural gas industry. We need to build pipelines across Pennsylvania so we can export it and benefit our economy and benefit our residents here in Pennsylvania. So, part of the natural gas boom is also building pipelines, that’s how you transport it and also to be liquefied. It’s untapped potential power. Windmills, electric vehicles is not the solution―that’s just politics. We need to fix the problem and we can do it by tapping into our natural gas industry.

Listen to Joe Gales remarks on energy:

Charlie Gerow (www.charlieforgovernor.com)

1. What is your position on fossil fuels, particularly with regard to Pennsylvania?

The Democrats’ war natural gas echoes through every area of our economy, killing jobs, raising prices and crippling Pennsylvania’s working families. I coined the term a “Gold Mine Beneath our Feet” referring to the trillions of cubic feet of Pennsylvania natural gas. As governor, I’ll unleash our natural gas industry to reach its full potential.

2. What would be your energy policy, including the development of necessary infrastructure such as pipelines?

I’ll push for the development of pipelines to get our natural gas from the rigs to the market. Throughout the past 15 years I’ve worked to promote numerous pipelines projects in Pennsylvania and know the tactics used by extreme environmentalists to block them. I’ll use the full force of the governors’ office to get pipelines built.

3. What is your position on natural gas usage/markets and liquified natural gas (LNG) exports?

Natural gas should be fueling Pennsylvania’s economy from homes to manufacturing. I believe that Pennsylvania could build at least two more cracker facilities. Pennsylvania natural gas should be among the state’s number one exports. We should be supplying Europe with Pennsylvania natural gas and stop their reliance on Russian natural gas.

4. What is your view on the regulatory body with oversight of the oil and gas industry in Pennsylvania―the Department of Environmental Protection?

Under the Wolf Administration the DEP has been major impediment to the growth of the natural gas industry by delaying or blocking drilling permits and being hostile to the industry. It will be worse under a Governor Shapiro. Under my administration, DEP will be a partner with the industry but also ensuring that safety and environmental protections are in place. I’ll also remove Pennsylvania from the ill-conceived and improperly enacted Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), which is an additional tax on Pennsylvanians imposed by Tom Wolf.

Watch a video message from Charlie Gerow:

Melissa Hart (www.hartforpa.org)

1. What is your position on fossil fuels, particularly with regard to Pennsylvania?

I support continuing and increasing development of fossil fuels in PA. It is clear from our experience here in PA that the technologies that have been developed in all areas of fossil fuel development have much improved safety, environmental impact and cost.

Coal production and its use in energy production are underutilized in this country. After advances in mining and burning technology, this resource has become a viable, safe and important source of energy. Overreaction and negative press has been damaging to the continued levels of the use of this resource.

The methane gas available for use in energy production which can be found in PA coal beds is also a viable and safe source for fuel. Its development is and should continue as a resource in PA. Drilling for this gas as a fuel source is also a way to relieve the concerns of some who view it as a contaminant.

The opportunity for drilling both conventionally and unconventionally for all fuel gas and oil is an economic boon for the state. I am supportive of the industry across the board, and of both small and large organizations’ exploration and production.

I have visited different gas well sites in western PA, and worked with landowners and companies as an attorney to make sure that all parties benefit from their leases and royalties. It is a clear economic win for producers and consumers. This clean burning fuel provides an environmental win for PA as well.

2. What would be your energy policy, including the development of necessary infrastructure such as pipelines?

I believe that the current administration here in PA and in DC have been a nightmare for those of us who see growing energy production as the key to our economic and security strength. My goal will be to make the connections that will allow the exploration, production and delivery of oil and gas to grow. This includes allowing some exploration on public lands, encouraging landowners to utilize their land for production if they choose to and making the connections from the fields to the markets by working with pipeline developers instead of against them.

3. What is your position on natural gas usage/markets and liquified natural gas (LNG) exports?

I would like to expand our gas liquification infrastructure and make connections to our ports (mainly Philadelphia and Lake Erie) for export of this energy. My vision is to free the market from overregulation so that PA can be a high-production and low-consumer-cost energy state.

This resource is a great opportunity for more energy related jobs than just for producers. The delivery and export infrastructure will add value and more jobs for Pennsylvanians. The lower cost of energy here opens the door to growth in many other areas, especially manufacturing―as a feedstock for petrochemicals and plastics, and also as a more economical energy source than will be available in other states for other manufacturing.

4. What is your view on the regulatory body with oversight of the oil and gas industry in Pennsylvania―the Department of Environmental Protection?

The DEP under the current administration has become an obstacle to oil and gas development. I believe that the legal structure that was put into place for the unconventional exploration industry was reasonable but should certainly be reviewed as it has been in place for a decade. The current administration has a record of overreach and the regulatory environment has become a brick wall in many cases. This is especially true regarding the construction of pipelines to allow the growth of production to be successful and profitable. I would review both the regulatory environment and the law regarding its practical effect on the industry.

Dr. Nche Zama (www.zamaforpa.com)

1. What is your position on fossil fuels, particularly with regard to Pennsylvania?

Fossil fuels are an essential building block for so many things that are necessary to support our way of life and economy. Most people know that fossil fuels are used for electric generation which in turn lights up our homes and businesses. Not many people understand that fossil fuels and their byproducts are used in a variety of applications to make plastic, clothing and grow food. I recently visited a conventional oil well and was very impressed with the operations and how they are proactive in protecting the environment while doing so. Pennsylvania needs to support our fossil fuel industry by reducing its overall tax burden and unnecessary regulations. This industry provides good family-sustaining jobs and contributes hundreds of millions of dollars to our economy. We need to educate Pennsylvanians and the rest of the world about how vital fossil fuels are to our way of life and the extraordinary efforts that are put into the exploration, production and transportation of fossil fuels.

Yes! The Zama administration will focus on making Pennsylvania the energy leader in every respect. We will develop the energy industry to be the envy of the world. Strong energy. Strong Environment. Clean Water. We will do it right, and everyone will benefit!

2. What would be your energy policy, including the development of necessary infrastructure such as pipelines?

In order to have energy security we need to look at all forms of energy whether it is using fossil fuels, digesters, wind, solar and hydropower. There is room in the market for all, but the government should not be picking winners and losers in energy generation. The current Governor is picking the losers by imposing a fee on fossil fuels used to make electricity by joining RGGI. By imposing the fee, which is essentially a tax, he is playing Robin Hood by taking money from one group of people and giving it to another. But unlike in Robin Hood, the people or companies he is giving it to are not the poor, but rich companies who promote “clean energy,” which is in their own self-interest. On day one I would sign an Executive Order to start the process to take Pennsylvania out of RGGI. Furthermore, just as I relied on a team when completing surgeries, I would establish a team of industry and interested parties to review existing laws, regulations and government subsidies to see which ones should be modified, continued or revoked.

We are blessed to have so many natural resources under our feet, but we need to extract the energy and get it to market. By utilizing best available technology and management practices, we can be assured that extraction can be done and energy can be transported while protecting everyone and the environment. People who oppose new pipeline construction probably do not realize that “according to the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), there were 92,407 miles of pipelines carrying natural gas and liquid petroleum products in Pennsylvania in 2017. That distance is equivalent to 151 round trips between Philadelphia and Pittsburgh on the Pennsylvania Turnpike, or more than three trips around the globe at the equator” (www.fractracker.org/2018/07/pennsylvania-pipelines-pollution/). We have been using pipelines to transport natural gas for over 100 years safely. In fact, using pipelines is safer than any other form of transportation. Therefore, I would support additional pipeline development by reviewing current regulations for adjustments.

I want Pennsylvania to be a global leader in research for clean energy for all forms of energy. We will pull resources together to make Pennsylvania universities the epicenter of energy research.

3. What is your position on natural gas usage/markets and liquified natural gas (LNG) exports?

As many of you know, I grew up in Africa where energy and electricity is not widely available or affordable. Our nation participates in many worldwide programs and affairs such as feeding the poor, NATO and unfortunately wars when necessary. However, it should be our duty to help developing nations afford clean natural gas to grow their economies as well as to provide light in the darkness so other children like me have the opportunity to study. Therefore, I would encourage the use of pipelines to transport natural gas to our ports and to increase the exportation of fossil fuels. I would also work with surrounding states to develop a pipeline infrastructure to deliver natural gas to them and their ports.

Unfortunately, it is not always feasible to use pipelines but we can still meet the demand by utilizing LNG and transporting it in trucks. Some manufactures use LNG to switch their fuel source and save hundreds of thousands of dollars on their energy bills. Switching fuel source for our vehicles and fleets to CNG helps to reduce air pollution and should be encouraged.

The Zama administration will help lead efforts to develop new markets for Pennsylvania energy exports. I have done free pediatric heart surgeries on five continents and there is a need for abundant and affordable energy on every continent. I will help make Pennsylvania energy #1.

4. What is your view on the regulatory body with oversight of the oil and gas industry in Pennsylvania―the Department of Environmental Protection?

Checks and balances are needed in all aspects of life whether it is the government, business or healthcare. The legislature passed Act 78 and other laws outlining the development of natural gas to ensure operators could conduct business while protecting the environment and have a stable regulatory environment. These laws provide a framework for DEP to follow when providing its oversight. Unfortunately, I have heard from so many on the campaign trail about how the DEP has been overstepping its authority as evident from their actions on RGGI. As Governor, I will select a Secretary of DEP that will abide by the law and rein in staff who promote their own agendas.

I will assemble a business environment team whose focus will be to identify current and/or proposed regulations that hamper economic growth and go beyond their statutory authority. In addition, the regulatory process needs to be streamlined to reduce paperwork and especially the amount of time it takes to get a permit. The amount of time to obtain a permit or the results of an inspection should be consistent and not be determined by whether you operate in the Northeast or Southwest or what inspector shows up at the site.

Simply put, the Zama administration is going to modernize the approval processes for all government functions. We’re going to stop delaying companies and regions that have strong environmental protections and excellent compliance track records. Yes, we are going to focus on excellence in all things, including permitting, compliance and track records.

Hear Dr. Zama’s remarks from the 2022 PIOGA Spring Meeting:

Responses were not received from these candidates:

Doug Mastriano (www.doug4gov.com)
William McSwain (billmcswain.com)
Josh Shapiro (joshshapiro.org)
Dave White (www.davewhiteforgovernor.com)

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