Pennsylvanians know the benefits of a forward-looking energy agenda. The wind sector alone is supporting 4,000 well-paying jobs across the state, as well as more than 15 major manufacturing facilities. Companies large and small have expanded in Pennsylvania - making the glass for solar panels, using waste materials to produce biofuel, or building new and better performing batteries. These companies have grown further and faster as a result of Obama's investments and policies.
Today Pennsylvania is at the forefront of another energy revolution: the production of vast amounts of natural gas from domestic shale formations.
Experts say that we have a near 100-year supply of natural gas from shale, and our state sits atop one of the largest reserves in the country. The president believes we can and should develop this resource safely and responsibly. At the Democratic convention, Obama laid out a goal of driving important new uses of clean, domestic gas, and creating some 600,000 new jobs as a result. Specifically, he put forward a plan that maximizes the national security benefits of gas by displacing imported oil: building the infrastructure to put more natural-gas vehicles on the road and developing new ways to convert and store natural gas.
Developing our natural-gas resources can mean more jobs and cheaper electricity. Gas production has more than quadrupled in our state, and since 2008 natural-gas jobs have doubled to nearly 30,000. The increased supply of gas has brought prices down and that in turn leads to lower electricity bills. Moreover, with abundant and affordable natural gas, we are attracting companies that use natural gas to produce things like chemicals and fertilizers, and good manufacturing jobs are being created in these new or expanded plants.
Obama knows that Americans want to be sure that our energy resources are developed in a safe and responsible manner. That's why his administration is developing standards that will require companies to disclose the chemicals used for hydraulic fracturing on public lands and take special precautions to protect groundwater resources. His administration also set standards that will cut harmful air pollution associated with shale development by 95 percent.
Mitt Romney would eliminate incentives for clean renewable energy development and cut investments in natural-gas deployment - all while continuing to give $4 billion a year in taxpayer dollars to oil companies posting near-record profits. Commercial oil production is enormously profitable and a fully mature industry that no longer needs billions in subsidies. Romney is picking winners and losers in a way that narrows our energy options and threatens our economy, environment, and national security.
Romney also plans to roll back key protections that keep our air and water clean - reversing efforts to protect public health. That's the wrong direction for Pennsylvania, the country, and industry. It invites the same kind of reckless risk-taking we've tragically seen in energy production disasters that take human life and destroy livelihoods and ecosystems.
We face a clear and vital choice in this election. When it comes to ensuring America has a clean and secure energy future, the only choice is President Obama.
Kathleen McGinty is an Obama campaign energy adviser and surrogate for the Shale Insight Conference energy-policy forum in Philadelphia. She is the former secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection.