Thursday, March 24, 2016

Clean Power PA Coalition Applauds Gov. Wolf’s Veto Of Fiscal Code Bill

The Clean Power PA Coalition Thursday  applauded Gov. Tom Wolf for announcing he will veto House Bill 1327 (Peifer-R-Pike), the Fiscal Code bill accompanying the 2015-2016 state budget.
The Coalition had urged the Governor to veto the legislation because it contains unconstitutional provisions which would harm Pennsylvania’s environment and the health of its citizens.
The Coalition includes: PennFuture, Clean Air Council, Partnership for Policy Integrity, Natural Resources Defense Council, Sierra Club, Union of Concerned Scientists, PennEnvironment, Conservation Voters of Pennsylvania, Action United, Sustainable Pittsburgh, Energy Coordinating Agency and Physicians for Social Responsibility- Philadelphia.
Amendments to the Fiscal Code add unnecessary hurdles to Pennsylvania’s process for developing a State Plan to implement the Clean Power Plan, the historic federal plan to reduce carbon emissions from power plants.
Language in the amendments would also exempt “conventional” oil and gas drilling activities from compliance with updated health and safety regulations, and shift existing funding for renewable energy sources to natural gas development.
“Implementing the Clean Power Plan is important to the health and livelihood of all Pennsylvanians," said Mark Szybist, Senior Program Advocate for NRDC. "Gov. Wolf's veto helps keep the state’s process on track, and ensures a responsible state budget for Pennsylvania's citizens and environment."
As approved by the General Assembly, the Fiscal Code bill threatens to impede the Department of Environmental Protection’s ability to develop and submit a State Plan under the Clean Power Plan.
While the U.S. Supreme Court has temporarily stayed enforcement of the Clean Power Plan by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the DEP can and should continue its state planning process to curb carbon emissions and develop a clean energy future for Pennsylvania.
Because Pennsylvania’s energy sector is moving towards cleaner energy in any case, continued planning is prudent, the groups said.
Additionally, states that postpone planning until after federal litigation could find themselves with much less time to develop a thoughtful State Plan that works for their communities, workers, and generators, and the less time these stakeholders will have to plan for compliance.
“By attacking the Clean Power Plan process and the oil and gas regulations using virtually hidden language in the Fiscal Code, the legislature attempted to circumvent the public and act in direct contradiction to the will of their constituents," said Joanne Kilgour, Director of the Sierra Club PA Chapter. "Using the fiscal code in this way lacks transparency, violates the public's trust, and runs counter to the Pennsylvania Constitution. Gov. Wolf is right to veto it."
The groups said the Fiscal Code language regarding the state Clean Power Plan undermines the public input from Pennsylvania citizens which overwhelmingly supports a Pennsylvania state plan to expand clean energy.
The groups added, the amendments are also unconstitutional, because the Fiscal Code is supposed to implement Pennsylvania’s budget, not establish (or in this case, undermine) environmental standards.
PEC Opposes Killing Conventional Drilling Regs, Delaying Clean Power Plan

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