Our modern lives would be worse off today without the discovery of oil in my home state of Pennsylvania by Edwin Drake, a man whose name and legacy is known throughout the world.
The legacy of Drake’s Well left the world with a product that has shaped the lives of every man and woman since that fateful day on Aug. 29, 1859. For Western Pennsylvanians like me and my family of fifth-generation energy producers, Drake’s story is especially personal. Drake wasn’t a man of fortune or a man of great knowledge or great education, but he was a man of persistence, hard work, and dedication.
Drake’s raw grit and fortitude in the quest to drill the “black gold” that changed the world is still reflective of today’s energy producers. This same attitude of determination persists today in the spirit of hardworking Pennsylvanians like my father and my brothers, who help make up the Keystone State oil and gas industry — an industry directly responsible for 93,000 jobs and indirectly supplying 330,000 additional jobs.
Around the country, men and women head to work before the sun rises and return home long after it has set to produce the energy needed to power a nation. They endure challenging working conditions and they do it with pride. They choose the energy industry because they are proud to provide for their families and communities.
And in return, their work should be honored — not dismissed.
Unfortunately, today, these hard-working Americans often face a media culture that denigrates the work they do and belittles the contributions that the energy sector plays in making modern life and the advancement of the standard of living around the globe possible. The Biden administration’s constant attack on traditional energy is an attack on these hard-working Americans. These attacks are a reflection of how out-of-touch the White House’s policies really are with working class Pennsylvanians, who hold over a quarter a million energy sector jobs and make up nearly 4% of the country’s total energy jobs.
Rural communities and areas where energy extraction is prevalent rely on these jobs for economic growth and opportunity. In Pennsylvania, which is the second largest producer of natural gas in the country, energy jobs are a critical component of our economy supplying young people with stable careers and quality of life without taking on student loan debt. This is the case around the country, where young Americans can find themselves in positions to provide for their families and save for the future while working in an honorable industry.
Little did the men who found oil along the bank of a Titusville creek know that their discovery would change the world forever, and for the better. And I believe those men, led by Edwin Drake, would be proud to know that their work was not in vain, that generations of Pennsylvania families would pass the torch of working tirelessly towards a goal of finding ‘black gold’ and powering a nation.
Families like mine will continue carrying on the energy producing tradition in the Keystone State as long as we are able. State and federal lawmakers must recognize the contributions and tireless efforts of small, family-owned and operated businesses like ours. They should also craft policy and rules that empower, not destroy, our ability to continue providing the necessary resources to power Pennsylvania, America, and the world.