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Pa. energy

Published April 19. 2011 05:00PM

President Obama was recently in Pennsylvania pitching his "Blueprint for a Secure Energy Future." His "Blueprint" calls upon America to "secure and control our energy future by harnessing all of the resources that we have available and embracing a diverse energy portfolio." Fortunately, Pennsylvania is already doing this - and has been for centuries.

Without an official written plan, Pennsylvania forged ahead to develop its own blueprint. We are producing energy for a secure future this very second and, at the same time, propelling our state's economy out of the Great Recession.

Pennsylvania's blueprint for a secure energy future began hundreds of years ago. We've led the way ever since.

In the mid-1700s we began mining coal to meet the demands of the Colonial Iron Industry. By the next century, in 1859, Colonel Drake drilled a well in Titusville and began the modern oil industry, changing the world forever.

In 1957 in Shippingport, the country's first large-scale nuclear power plant opened. Now we have five nuclear plants and the second highest generating capacity in the country.

Pennsylvania's first wind farm went online in 1999. Today, six wind farms are operating 89 turbines in the commonwealth; 11 new farms are proposed. We have been using solar energy since the 1970s. There are 700 solar installers working in Pennsylvania today. We are also home to cutting-edge solar research.

Natural gas is another form of energy with which Pennsylvania is very familiar. While the first natural gas well was drilled just across the border in Fredonia, New York, in 1821, within a few years wells in Pennsylvania were flowing with natural gas. Natural gas should be, and is, a keystone of President Obama's energy blueprint is. Why? Because it's an energy resource that is safe, more environmentally friendly, and we have it in abundance.

To achieve the President's goal of generating "80 percent of our electricity from a diverse set of clean energy sources," natural gas must be a major component.

The last thing Pennsylvania's energy blueprint needs is unwarranted federal intervention into natural gas development. For example, Pennsylvania is faced with proposed new regulations from the Delaware River Basin Commission that would duplicate layers of controls already in place.

Indeed, Pennsylvania's Department of Environmental Protection oversees some of the most stringent natural gas regulations in the country. Pennsylvania oil and gas exploration is strictly regulated under a string of laws, including Pennsylvania's Oil and Gas Act, the Coal and Gas Resource Coordination Act, the Oil and Gas Conservation Law, the Clean Streams Law, the Dam Safety and Encroachments Act, the Solid Waste Management Act and the Water Resources Planning Act.

The United States needs as much energy as it can produce, and the sooner it's produced the better. Energy demand is not slowing.

Over the next 20 years, the world's population will be climbing toward eight billion people. More and more, people will be seeking a higher standard of living. They will be powering, heating and fueling their homes, their businesses, transportation systems and endless pieces of technology.

It would be a shame if the President spent an exorbitant amount of time on his "Blueprint for a Secure Energy Future." All he needed to do was look up the road to Pennsylvania and to read our history of energy development. As the President holds more energy town hall meetings across the country, he would do well to think of Pennsylvania as the "ultimate blueprint."

Mike Uretsky

Retired New York University

Professor and member of the National Petroleum Council

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