A Better Way: Common-Sense Energy Policy Bridges Political Divide
By Eugene DePasquale and Kate Harper
“The people chose divided government” is a common refrain in Harrisburg and Washington that too often misses the mark.
In truth, the people chose their leaders – from both major parties – to govern Pennsylvania and the United States, because they believe those leaders can get things done. They weren’t choosing division. They were choosing leaders they thought would take appropriate action. These days, the only way that happens is through compromise and collaboration.
Unfortunately, the political narrative is too often dominated by partisan power plays and gamesmanship rather than the exercise of bipartisan common-sense solutions through compromise and common ground.
There is a better way.
We would point to energy policy as one area where Democrats, Republicans and Independents can work together to get things done.
Yes, there’s growing consensus that climate change is real and that we must dramatically reduce the level of global greenhouse gas emissions – most notably carbon dioxide – to address the issue. And yes, we know that alternative fuels must become a bigger part of our energy supply to meet our carbon reduction goals.
But let’s also recognize and agree that hidden behind the political debates are the faces of real people who will benefit from a strong energy policy that puts them – the people – first.
Thousands of jobs, and billions of dollars in economic benefit depend on Pennsylvania aggressively competing for federal dollars to bring innovative zero-carbon solutions – such as hydrogen hubs and carbon capture and storage technologies – to market. That should be enough to capture the attention of every elected official, regardless of party affiliation.
In Harrisburg and in Washington, our leaders should prioritize actions that will help us secure Pennsylvania’s rightful place as the nation’s energy leader well into the future. That means making smart investments in an all-of-the-above energy strategy that puts Pennsylvanians first while driving economic and job growth.
What do we mean when we talk about an “all of the above” energy strategy? Simple. It means investing in Pennsylvania’s existing energy assets – our wealth of natural energy endowments and our four existing nuclear plants – while also focusing on American ingenuity in developing new, innovative low-to-zero-carbon solutions.
At Energy Future PA, we recognize the unique position Pennsylvania is in to lead a new energy future – one that leverages the abundance of our natural resources and existing diverse energy portfolio. It’s a people-first strategy that preserves and expands jobs, powers the economy, and strengthens our communities. We encourage all Pennsylvanians to learn more and join us at EnergyFuturePA.org.
For example, we applaud recent efforts to develop a hydrogen hub in Pennsylvania, using carbon capture and storage technologies and leveraging Pennsylvania’s rich natural gas reserves. And we are encouraged by recent breakthroughs in advanced nuclear technologies, which have the potential to bring lower-cost and inherently safe, small modular reactors and non-water reactors to communities across Pennsylvania.
These low-to-zero-carbon fuel sources, when combined with our existing natural resources and renewable energy sources, offer a comprehensive suite of energy solutions to help meet our needs in a decarbonized economy.
Pennsylvania is already seeing significant activity in the hydrogen fuel sector, with companies, such as Bucks County-based PDC Machines, experiencing rapid growth and global demand for their products. As the popularity for clean, zero-emissions vehicles continue to grow, the market for hydrogen fuel cells and related components is booming.
Hydrogen is only one example of a zero-carbon fuel that can create jobs and yield significant economic growth for our communities and give our industry the edge it needs to compete globally in the 21st century. We need our elected leaders to focus their efforts on these common-sense solutions – for our workers, families and our communities.
If there is one issue that can bridge today’s bitterly divided political environment, it’s energy policy. It is in the best interest of Democrats, Republicans and all Pennsylvanians that we invest in an “all of the above” strategy that positions Pennsylvania at the front of the energy pack – not just today, but for generations to come. We can have abundant energy and environmentally friendly low emissions energy.
We can tell you from experience, it is possible. We both served in the state House of Representatives – one of us a Democrat and the other a Republican, and both of us from different regions of Pennsylvania. But we did not let our political party affiliation get in the way of real progress for Pennsylvanians – especially on clean energy.
That kind of bipartisan compromise can happen again today. It just takes leadership.
Governor Shapiro and the General Assembly should pass legislation that sends a clear signal to the market that Pennsylvania is the place to invest in innovative energy and industrial technologies, and that our industry and skilled labor are ready to build it.
It’s common-sense leadership. It’s action. And it’s exactly what the people of Pennsylvania want and deserve.
Eugene DePasquale and Kate Harper are co-chairs of Energy Future PA, a nonpartisan coalition focused on securing Pennsylvania’s leadership in a decarbonized energy economy. DePasquale is former Auditor General of Pennsylvania, and Harper is a former member of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, representing parts of Montgomery County.