Op-Ed: A Pennsylvania and United States Tragedy

Three Pennsylvania environmental groups handed Russian President Vladimir Putin a major victory. Those same groups are cheering and patting themselves on the back because they successfully shut down an $800 million liquified natural gas project in one of the most rural parts of my Senate district.  

New Fortress Energy had undertaken plans to build a high-capacity facility in Wyalusing, Bradford County to produce liquified natural gas (LNG). That product would then be shipped through a terminal in New Jersey for distribution to foreign countries.

In Europe, a major question over the last decade has been what is the preferred energy source? France has placed emphasis on nuclear power. Germany chose a policy which closed both its coal fired and nuclear electric generation capacity. To fill the energy gap, Russia stepped in with natural gas through the Nord Stream 2 pipeline. 

Russia now provides about 40% of the natural gas used in the European Union. Of critical importance to this distribution to western Europe is the fact that 80% of the gas passes through pipelines in Ukraine. The biggest customers for Russian natural gas are Germany, Hungary and Italy.

Last year, the United States produced 32.5 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. Russia, on the other hand, produced approximately 22.5 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania produced 7.1 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.

Yes, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania – standing alone – produced one-third as much natural gas as the entire country of Russia. In fact, two Pennsylvania counties, Bradford and Susquehanna, together produced more natural gas than was produced in the Gulf of Mexico. Yes, Pennsylvania is a significant player in the global energy market.

Without question, western Europe is desperately looking for a new source of natural gas. Obviously, the U.S. and Russia are in competition for the European market. And, given Pennsylvania’s production of natural gas being one-third that of Russia, clearly what happens in the Pennsylvania market is closely watched by our competitor.

Let’s be clear, Russia could not be more pleased with the efforts of those who seek to kill natural gas projects in Pennsylvania under the guise of being good environmental citizens.   

The Biden administration recently announced that LNG exports would be ramped up to help western Europe. Pennsylvania has the wherewithal to develop an industry that could help with the effects of the global tragedy playing out in Europe today.  

Somewhere along the line, organizations have an obligation to think beyond their own self-serving politics and consider what is in the best interest of the nation. An environmental victory in Pennsylvania means bombings and death will continue to occur in a country where our energy assets could play a significant role.  

Opposing the New Fortress project at every turn until the delays cause the company to abandon the project is not even consistent with the goals of the United States to help western Europe. I am sure that the groups involved can expect sincere congratulations from Vladimir Putin. Or perhaps Putin will just laugh up his sleeve at the absurd behavior in the U.S. of its own citizens.


Senator Gene Yaw was elected to represent the 23rd Senatorial District consisting of Bradford, Lycoming, Sullivan, Susquehanna and Union counties. He serves as chairman of the Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee.


CONTACT: Nick Troutman, 717-787-3280


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