Expectations from PA Gov Shapiro, Lt Gov Davis on Environmental, Energy Issues?

There were stark differences between the positions taken by Governor-elect Josh Shapiro and his opponent during the gubernatorial campaign just concluded.

Photo: Governor-elect Josh Shapiro and Lt. Governor-elect Austin Davis

By David E. Hess | PA Environment Digest Blog

During the campaign Shapiro outlined his general positions on environmental, and particularly energy issues, on his campaign website, since taken down.

Holding people and companies accountable for their environmental actions was a big part of his campaign and actions he took as Attorney General.

Beyond policy statements, who Governor-elect Shapiro chooses to lead Pennsylvania’s environmental agencies– DEP, DCNR and Agriculture– will say a lot about what direction the Shapiro-Davis Administration will take.

Here are statements on a variety of environmental and energy issues taken from his campaign website and links to some of the environmental enforcement actions and initiatives he had while Attorney General.

Campaign Website Statements

These are statements from the Shapiro For Governor Energy and the Environment webpage.

Pennsylvania is one of the most important energy-producing states in the entire country. The Commonwealth is the second largest natural gas producing state in the nation and the largest electricity exporter in the entire country. 

As an energy powerhouse with an incredibly diverse economy, we have everything we need to be a national and global leader on charting a path towards a low carbon future while continuing to create stable, good-paying jobs and grow our economy.

Josh refuses to accept the false choice between protecting jobs or protecting our planet – we must do both. His priority is ensuring Pennsylvania has a comprehensive climate and energy policy plan that will move all of us forward. 

Some Specifics

As Governor, Josh will invest in clean energy while creating thousands of good paying jobs for Pennsylvanians across the Commonwealth. 

— Clean Energy: He’ll promote solar projects and adopt measures to increase access to renewable energy sources. 

— Plug Oil & Gas Wells To Cut Methane Pollution: Shapiro will invest to plug abandoned wells across the state to curb emissions and create jobs.

— Zero-Carbon Technology: Invest in zero-carbon technology and provide financial incentives to help bring zero-carbon technologies to commercial readiness. 

This includes investment in research, development, and design (RD&D) for advanced renewables, advanced nuclear, hydrogen, carbon capture, and other zero-carbon technologies that could support businesses and job creation in Pennsylvania. 

Pennsylvania’s steps forward must ensure that we remain an energy hub while protecting vital pieces of our economy and leaving no Pennsylvanian behind, and Josh will lead us to that future.

— Environmental Accountability: Josh will also be an environmental champion who will protect the water we drink and the air we breathe, and not be afraid to hold polluters accountable. 

As Governor, Josh will protect the Commonwealth’s rivers and streams and conserve our natural resources, including our state parks and trails. 

— Underserved Communities: He will steer clean energy and infrastructure investments to underserved communities who have been systemically exposed to pollution, connect communities divided by highways, and vastly increase funding to test for lead poisoning. 

— Weatherization Assistance: Josh will expand weatherization assistance programs and energy efficiency projects for families and small businesses throughout the Commonwealth. 

— Electric Vehicle Infrastructure: He will introduce financial incentives for electric vehicles and ensure the Commonwealth has the infrastructure to sustain the growth.

— Update Renewable Energy Standards: Finally, Josh will work with stakeholders, including those from across the aisle, to bring us all together to figure out the best way to move forward to update Pennsylvania’s Alternative Energy Portfolio Standards Act to set a target to generate 30 percent of Pennsylvania’s energy from renewable sources by 2030 and set a goal for Pennsylvania to reach net-zero emissions by 2050. 

— Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative: Shapiro has said the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, or RGGI — does not satisfy criticism that it will hurt the state’s energy industry, drive up electric prices and do little to curtail greenhouse gases.  Read more here.

“We need to take real action to address climate change, protect and create energy jobs and ensure Pennsylvania has reliable, affordable and clean power for the long term,” Shapiro said in the statement. “As governor, I will implement an energy strategy which passes that test, and it’s not clear to me that RGGI does.”

That, he said, “is a determination I will make as governor, in close consultation with workers and affected communities.”

— Infrastructure: Josh will also invest in safe water infrastructure across the Commonwealth so millions of Pennsylvanians have access to clean and safe water. Josh’s administration will focus on eliminating lead in water pipes in vulnerable neighborhoods and our children’s schools, increasing resources for stormwater projects, and refurbishing wastewater management systems. 

Accountability

Five Pennsylvania environmental groups specifically endorsed Governor-elect Shapiro because of his proven record of holding companies accountable for their environmental actions.

The Conservation Voters of Pennsylvania, Clean Air Action Fund, Clean Water Action, National Wildlife Federation Action Fund and PennEnvironment all endorsed Shapiro.  

“We are excited to announce this historic endorsement of Josh Shapiro, a candidate with a long and proven track record of environmental protection and an exciting platform that will power Pennsylvania into the 21st century with a sustainable green energy economy,” Katie Blume, political director for Conservation Voters of Pennsylvania said in a statement. “He stands head and shoulders above the Republican candidates, who threaten to roll back environmental protections and double down on the failed environmental policies of the past.”

The groups cited Shapiro’s record as attorney general of holding pipeline developers and the oil and gas industry accountable for pollution and public health violations as evidence that he would continue to make the “environment a priority.”  Read more here.

More Stringent Oil & Gas Regulations

In June 2020, Attorney General Shapiro released a report from a Grand Jury’s two-year investigation that uncovered what it called a systematic failure by government agencies in overseeing the fracking industry and fulfilling their responsibility to protect Pennsylvanians from the inherent risks of industry operations.  Read more here.

The report recommended and Shapiro supported eight major changes in the way the oil and gas industry is regulated–

— No-Drill Zones: Expanding no-drill zones in Pennsylvania from the required 500 feet to 2,500 feet;

— Chemical Disclosure: Requiring fracking companies to publicly disclose all chemicals used in drilling and hydraulic fracturing before they are used on-site;

— Gathering Pipelines: Requiring the regulation of gathering lines, used to transport unconventional gas hundreds of miles;

— Assess Air Quality: Adding up all sources of air pollution in a given area to accurately assess air quality;

— Safe Transport Of Waste: Requiring safer transport of the contaminated waste created from fracking sites and treating it as hazardous;

— Comprehensive Health Response: Conducting a comprehensive health response to the effects of living near unconventional drilling sites;

— Limit Revolving Door: Limiting the ability of Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection employees to be employed in the private sector immediately after leaving the Department;

— Direct Criminal Jurisdiction: Allowing the Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General original criminal jurisdiction over unconventional oil and gas companies.

Shapiro specifically supported a package of bills introduced by Senate Democrats making the changes recommended by the Grand Jury report.  Read more here.

The Office of Attorney General has also reportedly been investigating the conventional oil and gas industry for their illegal disposal of conventional drilling wastewater by road dumping and other methods.  Read more here.

Related Articles This Week:

— FracTracker Alliance, Clean Air Council, Other Groups Hosting Nov. 14 Webinar On Protected Zones: Setbacks From Oil & Gas Facilities In California, Colorado, PA  [PaEN]

— Guest Essay: Stop Giving Handouts To Natural Gas Industry, Make Them Clean Up Their Own Messes And Protect Public Health – By Mitchell Hescox, Evangelical Environmental Network; Jacquelyn Omotalade, Environmental Health Project; Melissa Ostroff, MPH, Earthworks  [PaEN]

— Guest Essay: Our Leaders Need To Stop Negotiating With The Fossil-Fuel Industry Behind Closed Doors And Protect Public Health And Our Children – By Lois Bower-Bjornson, Clean Air Council and Washington County Resident  [PaEN] 

— Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Accepting Comments On Draft EIS For Ohio Valley Connector Natural Gas Pipeline In Greene County Until Nov. 21  [PaEN]

— Reuters: Williams Urges FERC To Approve Regional Energy Access Natural Gas Pipeline Expansion Affecting 6 Counties In PA  [PaEN]

— EPA Unveils Proposed Methane Pollution Reduction Standards Covering Oil & Gas Facilities, Including Conventional Oil & Gas Wells  [PaEN]

— TribLive Letter: EPA Must Protect Our Kids From Oil & Gas Methane Pollution

— Bob Donnan Blog/WTAE: Washington County Family Files Landmark Lawsuit Over Hazardous Chemicals And Chevron/EQT Shale Gas Drilling 

— WTAE: Lawsuit By Washington County Homeowner Says Fracking Caused PFAS ‘Forever Chemicals’ To Contaminate His Drinking Water  

— Pittsburgh Business Times: Washington County Family Sues Chevron, EQT Over Shale Gas Well Pads Near House

— Observer-Reporter: Range Resources Part Of DEP Investigation Into High Methane Levels In 2 Homes In South Strabane Twp., Washington County  

— E&E News – Heather Richards: Biden Orphan Well Plan Faces Trouble In PA: ‘All For Naught’ If DEP Can’t Stop New Oil & Gas Well Abandonments

— Capital & Main – Audrey Carleton: In Fracking’s ‘Ground Zero’ – Dimock, Susquehanna County – PA Residents Feel Left Behind – Part I

— Public Source: DEP Promises To Monitor Shell Ethane Plant, Look Into All Citizen Complaints 

— NextPittsburgh: Franklin, Venango County, Poised To Become The Next Great ‘Outdoor Town’  [Except for the dumping and negative environmental impacts of the conventional oil & gas industry]

Related Articles:

Attorney General’s Office Reported To Be Investigating Conventional Oil & Gas Operators For Illegally Road Dumping Drilling Wastewater

AG Shapiro: Grand Jury Finds Pennsylvania Failed To Protect Citizens During Natural Gas Fracking Boom

—  Senate Democrats, AG Shapiro Announce Legislation To Address Issues Raised In Grand Jury Report On Natural Gas Fracking

AG Shapiro: Energy Transfer/Sunoco Convicted Of Criminal Charges Related To Construction Of Mariner East 2 & Revolution Natural Gas/Liquids Pipelines In PA

AG Shapiro Charges National Fuel Gas Supply, Subcontractor With Environmental Crimes Related To Pipeline Construction In Washington County

—  Attorney General Shapiro Files Criminal Charges Against Cabot Oil & Gas For Water, Methane Contamination In Dimock, Susquehanna County

Attorney General Shapiro: Range Resources Pleads No Contest To Negligent Oversight Of Natural Gas Well Sites In Washington County; To Pay $150,000 In Penalties, Contributions

—  AG Shapiro: Southeast Directional Drilling Pleads Guilty To Contaminating Water Supply In Washington County, To Pay $15,000 Fine

AG Shapiro Charges Energy Corporation Of America/Greylock, 2 Employees With Environmental Crimes Involving Leaks At Oil & Gas Well Sites In Clearfield, Greene Counties

AG Shapiro: Inflection Energy to Pay $40,000 To Conservation Groups For Polluting Lycoming County Water

AG Shapiro: $5.3 Million Natural Gas Royalty Restitution From Chesapeake Energy For PA Property Owners

AG Shapiro, 22 Other AGs Oppose EPA’s Proposed Rule To Limit States’ Clean Water Act Oversight Of Pipelines, Other Projects

[Posted: November 9, 2022]  PA Environment Digest | Source

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UPDATE:

December 2, 2022 – Incoming Shapiro-Davis Administration Names Members Of Environment/Energy Transition Advisory Committee

Environment Members:

— Katie Blume, Political & Legislative Director, Conservation Voters of PA.

— Romulo Diaz, Ret. Judge and former Exelon Director and Vice Chairman of Hispanic in Energy

— Jaimie Field, Director of Sustainability, Entercom

— Patrick Morgan, 1st Deputy Commissioner, Strategy and Engagement Philadelphia Parks & Recreation 

— Charlie McPhedran, Senior Attorney, Earthjustice

— Mark Szybist, Senior Attorney, Natural Resources Defense Council

— Melissa Ostroff, Pennsylvania Field Advocate at Earthworks

— Jennifer Quinn, Legislative and Political Director, Sierra Club Pennsylvania Chapter

— Paul A. Roth, Ph.D., Principal, Entropia LLC; Former State Director, Clean Power PA Coalition

— James M. Seif, Former Secretary, Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection; Former Regional Administrator, EPA Region 3

— Ezra P. Thrush, MPA, Senior Director of Government Affairs, PennFuture

— John Walliser, Senior Vice President – Legal & Government Affairs, Pennsylvania Environmental Council

— Shannon Waterman Dawson, Senior Associate, Wojdak Government Relations

— Jennifer Fields, Managing Partner, ACRI Environmental Group LLC

  Energy:

— Joel Dominguez, President and Chief Executive Officer of Constellation

— Louis Evans, President & CEO, Commonwealth Energy Group

— Marc Felgoise, Member, Intersect Energy

— John Hines, Corporate Relations Manager – Northeast Great Lakes Region, Shell

— Christopher Lewis, Principal, Blank Rome; Energy Commission Chair, City of Philadelphia

— Brian Aiello, Vice President – External Relations, CNX Resources Corp

— Kevin Walker, CEO, Duquesne Light

— Cheryl McAbee, Esquire, Senior Counsel, Hardwick Law Firm and President of River Development Corporation

— Joylette Portlock, PH.D., Executive Director, Sustainable Pittsburgh

— Mike Stanton, Business Manager, Boilermakers Local 154

— Kareem Afzal, Chief Executive Officer, PDC Machines 

— Janeen Zappa, Executive Director, Keystone Energy Efficiency Association

— Dan Lapato, Managing Director, State Affairs and Public Policy, American Gas Association 

— John Kotek, Senior Vice President for Policy Development and Public Affairs, Nuclear Energy Institute

— Stephanie Catarino Wissman, American Petroleum Institute Pennsylvania 

— John Bland, Business Manager, Boilermakers Local 13

— Seth Shapiro, President & CEO, Philadelphia Gas Works

— Jim Snell, Business Manager, Steamfitters Local 420

— Judson Kroh, Robindale Energy

— Ken Broadbent, Business Manager, Steamfitters Local 449

IN OTHER NEWS:

Air pollution alert for Mon Valley extended through Thursday
An air pollution watch for the Mon Valley issued for Wednesday has now been extended through all of Thursday, when forecast conditions indicate that tiny particles known as PM2.5 will likely exceed the 24-hour standard. Additionally, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection has declared another Air Quality Action Day for Thursday by issuing a code orange for the Liberty-Clairton area. A strong weather inversion with light winds will permit fine particle matter pollution (PM2.5) to build overnight into Thursday morning. The highest PM2.5 concentrations will come between 3 a.m. and 11 a.m. A similar “episode” occurred under similar weather conditions from Oct. 22 to 26, which brought expressions of concern from environmental groups at the county Health Department’s meeting this month.

Public utility to pipe water to residents of ‘Gasland’ town in Pennsylvania
The tiny crossroads in northeastern Pennsylvania, about 15 miles (24 kilometers) from the New York state line, drew national notoriety after residents were filmed lighting their tap water on fire in the Emmy Award-winning 2010 documentary “Gasland.” Pennsylvania American Water said it plans to drill two wells — what it calls a “public groundwater system” — and build a treatment plant that will remove any contaminants from the water before piping it to about 20 homes in Dimock, site of one of the most notorious pollution cases ever to emerge from the U.S. drilling and fracking boom. Cabot, which recently merged with Denver-based Cimarex Energy Co. to form a new company, Coterra Energy Inc., has long maintained the gas in residents’ water was naturally occurring. It faces a total of 15 criminal counts, most of them felonies, including illegal discharge of industrial wastes and unlawful conduct under the state’s Clean Streams Law.

Forrest unveils 10GW renewable “super hub” to power grid and green hydrogen
Queensland’s push to become a hydrogen superpower has gained serious new momentum with the announcement of a renewable energy “super hub” in the state’s north that will host more than 10GW of wind and solar projects to produce green hydrogen at an industrial scale. The government says detailed planning is already underway for the Super Hub, with the first stage to include Windlab’s proposed 800MW Prairie Wind Farm and a 1GW “Wongalee project.” “It will create 100,000 jobs by 2040, and guarantee secure jobs for energy workers. And it will help our state to further decarbonise, to reach the ambitious renewable energy targets we’ve set – including 70 per cent renewable energy by 2032,” the premier said.

Tom Wolf’s Pa. climate program awaits court decision after GOP, industry challenge
The future of Gov. Tom Wolf’s signature climate program is in the hands of Commonwealth Court. The court heard arguments in two cases Wednesday on whether the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative is constitutional. Attorneys for industry groups and Republican state lawmakers, who oppose Pennsylvania joining RGGI, said it is an unconstitutional tax on power plants by the executive branch. Matthew White, an attorney for DEP, said money raised from RGGI is not a tax because the money cannot be put toward general government uses. Democratic Governor-elect Josh Shapiro said he plans to convene a working group to bring together people from all sides of the issue to find consensus on policy that would address climate change but not raise energy prices or put anyone out of work. He has not committed to joining or staying in RGGI. Clean Air Council has filed a brief supporting the state’s entry into RGGI.

CNX fined $200K for natural gas-related spills in Greene County
The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection has fined the natural gas drilling company CNX for spilling natural gas production fluids at well sites in Greene County. The spills took place between 2019 and 2021, all in Richhill Township. The largest spill took place on Sept. 18, 2019, in which approximately 40 barrels, or 1,680 gallons, of production fluid leaked out of a containment structure and spilled on the ground at CNX RHL 71 and RHL 87 well site. The DEP said the company tried to make repairs to the containment and remove fluids from the site. But CNX “postponed full remediation nearly 70 days due to its ongoing hydraulic fracturing activities,” according to a DEP news release. In total, the company had to remove nearly 1,400 tons of contaminated soil at the site.

As Evidence Mounts, New Concerns About Fracking and Health
Almost 20 years after the adoption of hydraulic fracturing began to supercharge U.S. production of oil and gas, there’s growing evidence of a correlation between the industry’s activities and an array of health problems ranging from childhood cancer and the premature death of elderly people to respiratory issues and endocrine disruption. While the oil and gas industry insists its processes are safe, and regulators have set rules designed to prevent the contamination of air and water by “fracking” technology, advocates for stricter limits on the practice, or even an outright ban, point to an increasing number of studies suggesting that fracking poses a threat to public health. A paper by the Yale School of Public Health this summer showed that children living near Pennsylvania wells that use fracking to harvest natural gas are two to three times more likely to contract a form of childhood leukemia than their peers who live farther away. That followed a Harvard study in January that found elderly people living near or downwind from gas pads have a higher risk of premature death than seniors who don’t live in that proximity.

Bell Nursery Named The Home Depot’s 2022 Environmental Partner of the Year
Bell Nursery has proudly supplied The Home Depot with live goods for over twenty-five years, and all Bell products are certified and sustainably grown to meet the highest standards of social environmental and economic standards. Today, Bell provides multiple varietals of flowers, plants, and trees to The Home Depot stores across 18 states. Some highlights from The Home Depot and Bell Nursery partnership include:

  • Utilizing 100% wind power at three facilities to significantly reduce CO2 consumption
  • Recycling 5.7 million pounds of cardboard and plastic through store and on-site programs
  • Implementing biological controls in Bell Nursery growing spaces
  • Leveraging drip irrigation in perennials farms, reducing 100,000,000 gallons in 2021
  • Over the last five years, Bell has sold 1.3 million trees through The Home Depot. When planted in an urban environment and allowed to grow for 10 years, these trees can sequester an estimated 77,000 metric tons of CO2.


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