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President Trump’s visit Thursday to a medical equipment company in Allentown, Pa., was designed to do more than call attention to his administration’s work to increase coronavirus testing and the national stockpile of medical supplies.
Pennsylvania has 20 electoral votes – more than all but four other states and tied with Illinois – and Trump knows those votes will be crucial in the November election when he is expected to face former Vice President Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee.
In the 2016 election, Trump narrowly edged out Hillary Clinton in Pennsylvania by only 45,000 votes of the nearly 6 million cast. This was not supposed to be. Polls had Clinton’s likelihood of winning at 77 percent.
A key to a Trump victory this year in the Keystone State will be his energy policies, which have brought economic prosperity and created jobs in Pennsylvania. The coronavirus pandemic and the shutdown of businesses to guard against the spread of COVID-19 have derailed economies in every state, but Trump’s pro-energy policies can play a crucial role in reviving the economies of Pennsylvania and the rest of our nation.
In sharp contrast, Biden and other Democrats have embraced radical energy policies demonizing fossil fuels that would bring economic pain and increased unemployment to Pennsylvania and states around the country. These far-left policies would be disastrous anytime, but would be especially so coming on top of the severe economic pain inflicted on the American people by the coronavirus.
The former vice president has even appointed socialist Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York – author of the radical Green New Deal – as co-chair of his climate policy group that is developing an energy agenda for his campaign. This is no doubt an effort to show his liberal bona fides and win over the far-left Bernie Sanders wing of the Democratic Party.
How does Ocasio-Cortez help Biden in Pennsylvania? Well, when the energy industry was imploding last month, prices bottoming and bankruptcies mounting, Ocasio-Cortez didn’t express sympathy for the millions of jobs lost – let alone the financial ruin of innumerable businesses. No, she tweeted “you absolutely love to see it.”
Biden, who was born in Scranton, Pa. – but moved with his family to Delaware in 1953 at age 10 – knows Pennsylvania is a vital electoral prize. That’s why he set up his campaign headquarters in Philadelphia and held his first campaign event in Pittsburgh, despite being a senator from neighboring Delaware for nearly 40 years.
But voters don’t really care where a candidate headquarters his campaign. They care about what a candidate can do to improve their lives. And when it comes to energy policy, the difference between the job-creating policies of Trump and the job-killing policies of Biden couldn’t be more dramatic.
Demographically, Pennsylvania is quite diverse, with major metropolitan areas, depressed Rust Belt towns, and a large rural population. But Pennsylvania also has something else: energy. And lots of it. It’s America’s third-largest coal-producing state. It’s the second-largest shale gas producer. These industries employ thousands of people. And they vote.
My organization, Power The Future, published a study in January looking at the enormous economic benefits that hydraulic fracturing – better known as fracking – has brought to Pennsylvania and compared that to how New York has missed out on the economic benefits because Gov. Andrew Cuomo has unwisely banned fracking.
Our study is titled “New York’s Buried Opportunity: How Governor Cuomo’s Policies Prevent Prosperity While Pennsylvanians Flourish.”
The results of this study of neighboring states are important to voters around the nation. That’s because many prominent Democrats are hostile to fracking and would no doubt pressure a President Biden to outlaw the practice nationwide – even though this method of extracting oil and natural gas has a strong record of safety and has played a crucial role in reducing our dependence on foreign energy.
Fracking has generated $1.7 billion in new tax revenue for Pennsylvania since 2012 and a remarkable 36 percent increase in wages for oil and gas employees in the state.
During the Great Recession of 2008 to 2012 – when Pennsylvania was losing jobs overall – fracking jobs increased an astounding 259 percent, with the vast majority of these jobs in rural areas.
Energy has been a boon for the state because despite the recession, despite the collapse of the housing market and the Wall Street market tumble, America will always need energy.
Job losses in the energy industry caused by the coronavirus pandemic are temporary. But if Democrats succeed under a Biden administration in banning fracking and taking other anti-fossil fuels actions, the job losses would become permanent. This would have a far more devastating impact on the hardworking men and women who produce the energy that powers America.
Pennsylvania is one of the leading energy-producing states, employing tens of thousands of energy workers. They will once again have a crucial role in this upcoming presidential election.
Currently, 28 percent of Pennsylvania’s overall workforce is unemployed due to the coronavirus pandemic – a shocking and tragic number. Of the 1.8 million men and women who have filed for unemployment in the state, there’s no doubt some have come from the energy industry.
We need to get these energy workers back on the job as soon as possible, consistent with public health guidelines needed to combat the spread of COVID-19. The last thing these workers need is permanent unemployment caused by unwise Democratic policies.
Biden has made it clear what he thinks about Pennsylvania and its energy industry, despite putting his campaign headquarters in the state.
One would expect the Biden campaign to make an aggressive pivot to the center in an appeal for Pennsylvania’s voters, but appointing someone as out-of-touch and downright offensive as Ocasio-Cortez to guide his energy policy shows his complete disconnect with reality.
As President Trump aims to reopen America and restart our economy, he knows we will need energy. The airline industry will come back, but not without energy. Cruise ships, travel, tourism, resorts and hotels all need energy.
Millions of Americans – once permitted to resume commuting to work – will need energy for their vehicles. Every business and industry in the nation will only be able to return to full economic strength if Americans can be sure we will have inexpensive, reliable and abundant domestic energy. And Pennsylvania has a lot of it.
No one wanted the coronavirus to invade America and cripple our economy. The last thing we need is to adopt Democratic energy policies that will further cripple our economy by design.
Trump can tell Pennsylvania’s energy workers he wants them fully employed, providing for their families, contributing to their communities and building our nation back to its full economic strength.
Biden’s message to these same energy workers is that he will put more of them on the unemployment rolls, and his message to all voters is that he will destroy our energy independence and ship billions of dollars out of our pockets to other countries to buy the energy we should be producing right here in America.