Wednesday, January 18, 2023

What Can We Expect From Gov. Shapiro, Lt. Gov. Davis On Environmental, Energy Issues?

There were stark differences between the positions taken by now Governor Josh Shapiro and his opponent during the gubernatorial campaign.

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.

For his environmental leadership team, Gov. Shapiro will nominate a new face-- Richard Negrin as the Secretary of DEP and will retain Cindy Adams Dunn as DCNR Secretary and Russell Redding as Agriculture Secretary.  Read more here.

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.”

At a press conference on November 16, Gov. Shapiro said he would be convening a “working group” of climate activists, energy experts and business leaders to come up with his administration’s climate goals.  Read more here.

“[We need to] find consensus… the kind of consensus that doesn’t raise energy prices or put anyone out of work, but really commits to addressing climate change,” he said.  Read more here.

-- 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.

Resource Link:

-- PoliticsPA: Gov. Shapiro’s Inauguration Speech

PA Oil & Gas Industry Compliance Reports:

-- PA Oil & Gas Industry Has Record Year: Cost, Criminal Convictions Up; $3.1 Million In Penalties Collected; Record Number Of Violations Issued; Major Compliance Issues Uncovered; Evidence Of Health Impacts Mounts

-- DEP Report Finds: Conventional Oil & Gas Drillers Routinely Abandon Wells; Fail To Report How Millions Of Gallons Of Waste Is Disposed; And Non-Compliance Is An ‘Acceptable Norm’

PA DEP Weekly Public Notice Dashboards:

-- Pennsylvania Oil & Gas Weekly Compliance Dashboard - Jan. 14  to 20  [PaEN]

-- PA Oil & Gas Industrial Facilities: Permit Notices/Opportunities To Comment - Jan. 21  [PaEN]

-- Susquehanna River Basin Commission Sets Feb. 2 Hearing On A 4.5 MGD Out-Of-Basin Diversion For Ironwood Natural Gas Power Plant In Lebanon County, 6 Other Natural Gas Drilling Water Uses  [PaEN]

-- DEP Posted 34 Pages Of Permit-Related Notices In Jan. 21 PA Bulletin  [PaEN]

Related Articles This Week:

-- Feature: 60 Years Of Fracking, 20 Years Of Shale Gas: Pennsylvania’s Oil & Gas Infrastructure Is Hiding In Plain Sight  [PaEN]

-- DEP 2021 Oil & Gas Program Annual Report Shows Conventional Oil & Gas Operators Received A Record 610 Notices Of Violation For Abandoning Wells Without Plugging Them  [PaEN]

-- Susquehanna River Basin Commission Sets Feb. 2 Hearing On A 4.5 MGD Out-Of-Basin Diversion For Ironwood Natural Gas Power Plant In Lebanon County, 6 Other Natural Gas Drilling Water Uses  [PaEN]

-- FracTracker Alliance Webinar Exploring Oil & Gas Impacts On Watersheds Available On Demand

-- Better Path Coalition Hosts Jan. 26 Virtual Brown Bag Briefing On Environmental Impacts From Development Of Unconventional Shale Gas & Oil Reserves  [PaEN]

-- York Daily Record Guest Essay: Low Blow By PA Lawmakers - Playing Politics With Kids Abused By Clergy, Harmed By Polluters - By Mitchell Hescox, Evangelical Environmental Network  [PaEN]

-- Williamsport Sun Letter: Dance With The Dinosaurs - Taxpayers Picking Up $1.7 Billion Cost Of Plugging Conventional Oil & Gas Wells - By Barb Jarmoska, Keep It Wild PA  [Abandoned Oil, Gas Wells Can Cost PA Taxpayers $1.8 Billion ]

-- Senate Environmental Committee Reports Out Diesel Mining Equipment Bill, Postpones Resolution On Restart Of Keystone XL Pipeline  [PaEN]

-- Sen. Yaw Looks For Common Ground With New Governor On Energy, Environmental Issues  [PaEN]

[Posted: January 18, 2022]  PA Environment Digest

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