HARRISBURG – Pennsylvania House Republicans on Tuesday announced their legislative plans to divest from Russian financial assets and invest in freedom by empowering Pennsylvania’s energy producers to meet new oil and gas demands.
House Majority Leader Kerry Benninghoff (R-Centre/Mifflin) noted the importance of divesting from Russian financial assets.
“Since we introduced our intention last week to divest Pennsylvania from Russian financial assets, I have been proud to work with the Treasury and our state pension systems as they have taken action themselves to carry out this function. We are continuing to pursue this divestment legislation because it can provide these agencies with a legislatively sanctioned structure to continue with the task they have already undertaken,” Benninghoff said.
“The Commonwealth has a moral obligation to speak on this as a whole. The Treasurer and the pension systems have taken the first step, and we will legislatively take the final steps.”
He also discussed the importance of and the need to empower Pennsylvania’s energy producers.
“As calls to stop the import of Russian petroleum products echo through Europe and the United States, gas producing areas need to do their part to step up; and while President Biden and other world leaders are looking to countries like Iran and Saudi Arabia—countries that do not share our values—to increase production and make up the difference, they really should be looking to places like Pennsylvania,” Benninghoff added. “We have abundant energy resources we can scale up and expand upon right under our feet. Unlike Russia, Belarus, Iran and Saudi Arabia, we share a commitment to freedom, human rights and individual liberty.”
House Appropriations Committee Chairman Stan Saylor (R-York) discussed his resolution to urge the governors of New York and New Jersey to allow pipeline capacity to get Pennsylvania natural gas to neighboring states in a cost-effective manner.
“Not only have anti-energy policies from President Joe Biden down to blue-state governors resulted in increased costs to consumers, but they mean that we as a country are helping to finance Vladimir Putin’s unprovoked war on Ukraine through oil and natural gas imports. It’s unconscionable and outright shameful,” Saylor said.
“Pennsylvania is the second-largest natural gas producing state in the nation and stands ready to meet the demands of consumers in New England and elsewhere. There is no justifiable reason to have Russian LNG imports in our country.”
House Environmental Resources and Energy Committee Chairman Daryl Metcalfe (R-Butler) offered comment on his resolution that would urge President Joe Biden to end Russian oil and gas imports into the United States.
“We have been blessed with a bounty of natural resources that have the potential to provide affordable energy for our citizens and our allies around the world,” Metcalfe said. “We must shut off the flow of Russian gas and oil that is enabling the Putin criminal war machine to slaughter the Ukrainian people! Wolf, Biden and their comrades must stop their radical agenda of shutting down development of domestic oil and gas while they empower foreign nations through reliance on foreign energy.”
Rep. Jonathan Fritz (R-Wayne/Susquehanna) discussed his legislation to get the Delaware River Basin Commission to open the river basin to gas drilling and exploration and reform how the commission does business.
“Seeing the Russia and Ukraine atrocity makes it so vividly clear that we need to focus on accessing domestic energy sources,” Fritz stated. “Pennsylvania is blessed to sit atop an abundant amount of clean burning natural gas and we need to focus on getting that to market.”
Rep. Josh Kail (R-Beaver/Washington) discussed his legislative initiative to stop advocacy organizations from accepting donations from foreign entities.
“Pennsylvania can end Europe’s dependence on Russia for its natural gas. We can produce the gas, transport it, and with smart policy and investment, export it. House Republicans have known this and fought for it for years,” Kail stated. “But Democratic leadership is beholden to the radical and anti-science environmentalist movement, some of which is apparently funded by Russia. We cannot let these fringe groups shape our energy policy anymore. Now is the time to act.”
Rep. Clint Owlett (R-Bradford/Tioga/Potter) noted the importance of increasing the supply of Pennsylvania energy to help stymie the Russian war effort in Eastern Europe. He is proposing legislation that would end the governor’s moratorium on subsurface leases of state land to boost production.
“With 40% of Russia’s government financing coming from its oil and gas exports, we must realize that we are essentially funding this unjust, unprovoked and brutal attack on Ukraine,” Owlett said. “Freeing ourselves from dependence on Russia and investing our money in our own energy development is the best choice for freedom and democracy.”
Rep. Jim Struzzi (R-Indiana) outlined his legislation to stop Pennsylvania’s entry into the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), which would disincentivize the use and production of Pennsylvania natural gas.
“Pennsylvania is one of our country’s leaders in energy exportation and has been for years,” said Struzzi. “Deterrents like the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative will only prevent us from playing a major role in severing energy ties and reliance on Russia as we forge a path to energy independence.”
Rep. Greg Rothman (R-Cumberland) offered perspective from his service in the United States Marines Corps during the Cold War and the need to take Russian aggression head on and substantively marginalize Russian President Vladimir Putin with all that Pennsylvania has.
“Standing with Ukraine requires we utilize, without reservation, all available sources of American energy, and that should start right here in our Commonwealth,” Rothman said. “The Ukrainian people, Americans, and all who love freedom and desire to live in liberty and peace deserve nothing less.”