Wednesday, November 9, 2022

What Can We Expect From 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.

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. 


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.

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

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

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