Gubernatorial candidates answer questions about Act 13, use of Acid Mine Drainage, the proposed ethane “cracker” and more…

Filed in News by on May 6, 2014

PA Environmental Council Q/A With Candidates For Governor On The Environment

Tuesday, May 20 is Primary Election Day in Pennsylvania! To help inform this important election, the Pennsylvania Environmental Council http://www.pecpa.org/ invited all Republican and Democratic candidates on the ballot to share their views on the most challenging environmental issues facing the Commonwealth today.

In a special issue of PEC’s Forum newsletter http://www.pecforum.org/2014/05/primary-2014-environmental-roundtable/ , Governor Tom Corbett, Rob McCord, Katie McGinty, Allyson Schwartz and Tom Wolf offered their views, ideas and proposals on a wide spectrum of environmental topics.

“With just two weeks left before the May 20 primary election, PEC felt it was important to help educate voters on the environmental positions and priorities of each of the candidates for Governor,” said Paul King, PEC President. “We hope the insights we’ve identified in their positions on these issues will help inform voters and bring the environment into sharper focus for this primary election.”

PEC thanks the candidates for governor for their participation in this project and hope their contributions will be helpful to the voters heading to the polls on May 20th.

The six questions asked of each candidate were:

1. The recent Supreme Court decision on Act 13 has tremendous implications for the way Pennsylvania regulates natural gas activity. But this ruling also extends to all environmental protection laws. What do you think this means for state and local policy makers moving forward? Do you support enhanced local control of environmental protection measures, even if they might be in conflict with state controls?

2. Pennsylvania still faces significant pollution legacy issues like abandoned mine drainage (AMD), with cost estimates exceeding $1 billion needed for restoration of AMD alone. With the continual reduction in federal and state funding for this work, what novel approaches would you support to address this need? Would you also promote a severance tax on coal or other fossil fuels?

3. Gamesa has announced that it will be closing its Ebensburg wind turbine assembly facility at the end of March 2014. What do you think the ramifications of this decision are for Pennsylvania?

4. Using the potential Shell ethane cracker plant in Beaver County as an example, how would you, as governor, balance environmental and human health protection with key economic development opportunities?

5. Do you think federal regulation of natural gas operations is appropriate? If so, why?

6. What specific actions would you take in your first 100 days as governor to address the most significant environmental issues you believe are facing Pennsylvania?

A copy of PEC’s special edition of their Forum newsletter is available online http://www.pecforum.org/2014/05/primary-2014-environmental-roundtable/ .

The answers given by each candidate to each question follow. Candidate responses are listed in alphabetical order–

1.   The recent Supreme Court decision on Act 13 has tremendous implications for the way Pennsylvania regulates natural gas activity. But this ruling also extends to all environmental protection laws. What do you think this means for state and local policy makers moving forward? Do you support enhanced local control of environmental protection measures, even if they might be in conflict with state controls?

Tom Corbett

The Act 13 ruling has created much more uncertainty than existed before, and that is detrimental to both industry trying to foster economic development, and local officials trying to balance their own obligations. Fulfillment of the Environmental Rights Amendment is a state responsibility.

Protection of our natural resources should not be dependent on whether a local government chooses to adopt zoning; indeed, approximately 65 percent of natural gas wells drilled over the past two years are in municipalities that have not adopted local zoning.

Zoning has never been utilized as a means of environmental protection. It is also important to note that the Act 13 ruling retained the prerogative of state government to set environmental protection standards for natural gas development. In my view, the Environmental Rights Amendment and its responsibilities are so important that they deserve the oversight, protection and enforcement of state government, consistent across the Commonwealth.

Rob McCord

What I found particularly important in the state Supreme Court’s ruling was that it emphasized the importance of the environmental protection amendment to the Pennsylvania Constitution. Each of the amendment’s three sentences accomplishes an important objective: enumerating the right to natural resources (that are “pure” and “clean”) and the preservation of these treasures; the explicit preservation of these resources for current and future generations; and the obligation of the Commonwealth to protect the environment for the people.

Up until the Robinson Township case, the state ignored this responsibility, thereby depriving our citizens of their rights, making this an extraordinarily important decision and an exciting moment for those of us who care about the environment. Sustainable development is the much dreamed of equal partnership of commerce and conservation. The environmental protection amendment teaches us that Pennsylvania is richer if we find the way to increase the total prosperity of our citizens: that means enabling then to realize the income security they desire and the connection with a diverse and vibrant natural environment that is essential to overall wellbeing.

We need to be cognizant of this connection and of our responsibilities when forming state policy.

With respect to local control, I respect Pennsylvania’s long tradition of respecting local authority when it comes to zoning and land use. The people of this state deserve to have a say in what happens in their backyards. Of course, the rights of municipalities must be balanced with the state’s need to establish reasonable, uniform rules and regulations on drilling in order to responsibly take advantage of the numerous economic opportunities the industry offers, but that should not come at the expense of local authorities acting reasonably to protect the health, safety, and property of their citizens.

Katie McGinty

I believe that the decision by the Supreme Court is a victory for local municipalities that want to exercise their rights to impose reasonable zoning requirements to protect schools, places of worship, fragile natural areas and other special places from oil and gas drilling.

This is the right decision for communities and for an industry that says it’s committed to working with residents to develop this resource safely and responsibly. Shale gas development is an industrial activity. And while it can be done safely and responsibly, still some places are not well suited for industrial development.

In the Fall of 2013, I outlined a jobs plan to grow Pennsylvania’s economy by making the state a leader in natural gas development — all while ensuring commonsense regulations that protect the environment. Among the initiatives is a proposal to allow communities to impose these reasonable zoning requirements on oil and gas operations just as they already do with other types of industrial activity.

Allyson Schwartz

The Supreme Court ruling leaves much uncertainty. After finding some parts of Act 13 unconstitutional, the court remanded other issues to a lower court. Regardless of what judges decide, as governor I will rewrite rules and regulations covering gas drilling in Pennsylvania.

Among other things, I will:

— Give zoning control to local communities. Drilling should not be exempt from zoning.

— Lift the Act 13 gag order that prohibits physicians from disclosing information given to them while treating patients pertaining to fracking chemicals.

— Enact the strongest possible protections, based on the best science, to reduce air pollution, limit methane leakage, and protect drinking water. To ensure these protections are enforced, I will restore funding to the Department of Environmental Protection, increase the size of the oversight staff, and close the revolving door between industry and regulators.

I was the first Democratic candidate for governor to propose a 5 percent severance tax on shale drilling similar to West Virginia’s. The tax would generate an estimated $737 million this budget year alone and increase to $2 billion annually by 2022-23. The revenue will give Pennsylvania the funds to transform education, relieve pressure on property taxes, and rebuild roads and bridges.

I will use a portion of the shale tax revenue to create the Gifford Pinchot Land Conservation Fund, a private-public partnership to protect open space, reduce carbon emissions by improving natural carbon sinks, and fund land reclamation projects.

Tom Wolf

We have to strike a balance between environmental protection, local rights, and economic development. With Act 13, Governor Corbett clearly got this balance wrong. Instead of standing up for Pennsylvania’s hardworking families, Governor Corbett gave his biggest donors and supporters free reign over Pennsylvania’s natural resources and local communities.

The ruling presents an opportunity for us to push for new legislation that requires oil and gas companies to pay their fair share. As governor, I will institute a 5 percent extraction tax because it is simply not right that Pennsylvania is the only major gas producing state in the country that does not charge a tax on oil and natural gas extraction– states like Texas, Wyoming, Louisiana, New Mexico, and Oklahoma charge extraction fees for natural gas to fund their key investment priorities. It is now long past time for Pennsylvania to do the same thing.

This tax is largely an exportable tax as it would be paid by consumers located outside of Pennsylvania. Revenue from the tax would allow Pennsylvanians to share in the benefits of natural gas extraction; it is an opportunity for us to have a safe and secure environment, and the ability to make critical investments in education, healthcare, economic development, and infrastructure.

I believe that local leaders should control zoning, and that the communities where drilling is taking place should continue to benefit financially from the activity. I will direct a portion of the revenue generated from the extraction tax to these communities.

2.   Pennsylvania still faces significant pollution legacy issues like abandoned mine drainage (AMD), with cost estimates exceeding $1 billion needed for restoration of AMD alone. With the continual reduction in federal and state funding for this work, what novel approaches would you support to address this need? Would you also promote a severance tax on coal or other fossil fuels?

Tom Corbett

While abandoned mine lands are a significant environmental challenge to Pennsylvania, it is important to note that funding for the Commonwealth has actually gone up, not down. Coal producers already pay a severance fee based on each ton of coal mined in the Commonwealth. The federal distribution formula has been changed to direct a greater share of dollars to address historic mining reclamation needs across the nation, including Pennsylvania, which is very appropriate.

As Governor, I also proposed and then enacted an impact fee on natural gas that has, to date, generated over $630 million in new revenue for the Commonwealth and its local communities. This funding includes the first infusion of new state money into the Growing Greener program, including funding for abandoned mine land reclamation, in over a decade. It also includes a new program under the Marcellus Legacy Fund that provides funding for high-priority abandoned mine land reclamation.

Additionally, as Governor I have worked with Pennsylvania’s waste coal electric generation industry on creative and innovative ways to spur their continued development, partnering with local electric utilities on cooperative agreements that help clean up abandoned mine piles and saving taxpayers millions of dollars.

Rob McCord

On the matter of a severance tax, I have put forth the boldest plan to tax natural gas drilling of any candidate in the race –a 10% rate on natural gas that will raise as much as $1.6 billion in 2015 and more than $3.2 billion by 2020 according to our estimates.

Pennsylvania, indeed, faces a tremendous challenge when it comes to legacy contamination issues. With acid mine drainage, in particular, we have over between 2,500 and 4,000 miles of streams in need of repair, according to different estimates, and as you note, increasingly fewer financial resources do to so. I believe there are opportunities to engage the private sector in this work, thus reducing the demand on public funds.

For example, AMD can be used as a water supply for the natural gas industry to use in hydraulic fracturing, although I recognize there are concerns over liability issues and over supply of water in these tainted watersheds by many environmental organizations. A bill now before the legislature aims to make it easier for the drilling industry to use AMD, so while I am not prepared at this time to give a blanket endorsement of the proposal, I am eager to work with all parties to find beneficial use for what otherwise is a liability because, if done right, this can alleviate pressures on fresh water supplies.

Lastly, I believe we can also do more to recover the metals in AMD and turn them into raw materials for manufacturers. This is similar to the great work started under Gov. Corbett’s predecessor. Providing greater access to raw materials coupled with a homegrown supply of relatively cheap natural gas thanks to Pennsylvania’s vast shale resources offer us a competitive advantage to revitalize the state’s manufacturing sector. As governor, with this approach and others, I will seek ways to work with the private sector to bring innovation to our environmental protection work to improve the quality of life of our residents and create a vibrant, sustainable economy.

Katie McGinty

As Secretary of DEP, I championed novel approaches to addressing environmental challenges. Working with environmental and business groups, for example, we promoted the use of iron oxides from AMD for pigment, as well as for use in key industries like powdered metals. I also championed the capture and use of landfill methane and promoted the beneficial use of agricultural wastes to ensure water quality and generate clean energy. As governor, I would work hard to have Pennsylvania lead on innovative approaches to the environment and the economy that solve problems by creating new opportunities.

Allyson Schwartz

Abandoned mine drainage, a severe environmental pollutant in large areas of Pennsylvania, presents a stark reminder that if we do not require stringent environmental regulations in the present, we will we pay a heavy price long into the future.

As governor, I will seek the best scientific and economic counsel to deal with this unfortunate legacy of the past.

Tom Wolf

I believe we need a multi-pronged approach to address the restoration of AMD. First, we need to enact tougher legislation to hold coal-mining companies responsible for clean up and environmental damages. Second, we need to engage Pennsylvania’s world-class universities and colleges as well as the private sector in developing cost-effective approaches to abandoned mine drainage restoration. Third, both the federal government and the state need to step-up and proactively address this issue by directing additional funding.

3.   Gamesa has announced that it will be closing its Ebensburg wind turbine assembly facility at the end of March 2014. What do you think the ramifications of this decision are for Pennsylvania?

Tom Corbett

Any decision to close a manufacturing facility in Pennsylvania is one I take seriously. This particular decision appears to be driven by a nationwide trend. I continue to work on fostering policies to improve our business climate in Pennsylvania, reform our tort and unemployment compensation systems, and other improvements that have helped Pennsylvania add over 150,000 private sector jobs and reduce our unemployment rate to its lowest point in nearly six years.

Rob McCord

The loss of Gamesa’s plant in Cambria County is not only a blow to the region and to the families of the approximately 60 remaining employees that will be out of a job, it is also indicative of the Corbett administration’s abandonment of clean energy sources and a diverse energy portfolio for the Commonwealth.

Prior to Governor Corbett, Pennsylvania was a leader in wind energy development thanks to companies like Gamesa and Iberdrola and the wind carve out of our Alternative Energy Portfolio Standards. We need to get back to investing in renewable forms of energy and revise the AEPS to increase the requirements for Tier 1 clean energy resources.

Developing clean forms of energy will be a major portion of my economic development and jobs package. I intend to propose a sizeable energy development fund that will invest considerable new resources in renewable energy, as well as conservation and energy efficiency. Coupled with stronger AEPS requirements, these strategies have the promise of creating tens of thousands of new jobs in the Commonwealth.

Katie McGinty

Governor Corbett continues to fail Pennsylvania’s workers and this time, the brunt of his short-sided decisions and policies hit the hard-working men and women who were employed at Gamesa in Cambria County. When I served as Secretary of the Department of Environmental Protection, I helped bring those jobs to Cambria County. Unfortunately, Governor Corbett actively advocated for increased taxes on the wind energy sector and opposed bi-partisan legislative efforts to expand the market for renewable energy in Pennsylvania, which, in turn, killed jobs.

The decisions and policies of this governor will have ramifications in communities across Pennsylvania. Instead of promoting our state as the hotbed of energy innovation, the Governor has actively worked against good manufacturing jobs and set us back. As Governor, I would turn this around, putting Pennsylvania back on the map as a place of job creation and cutting edge policy in clean energy and energy efficiency.

Allyson Schwartz

I have consistently pushed for greater investments in clean energy. After helping to enact the Alternative Energy Portfolio Standard in the Pennsylvania Senate, I championed an effort in Congress to establish a 20 percent National Renewable Energy Standard by 2020.

Without a stronger AEPS, Pennsylvania’s clean energy progress is at risk. When Gamesa closed the wind turbine manufacturing facility, it cited reduced demand for wind power. According to the Solar Foundation, Pennsylvania has lost 1,100 solar jobs since 2012, in large part due to the low solar requirement in the current AEPS.

I will enhance our AEP to require that Pennsylvania obtain 30 percent of its electricity from clean, renewable sources by 2030. This “30 by 30” standard is an ambitious, but achievable goal that will expand job opportunities, reduce carbon emissions, and make Pennsylvania a national leader in renewable energy.

I will also strengthen Act 129, which requires Pennsylvania electric distribution companies to conserve electricity. Investing in energy efficiency saves customers on their electric bills, improves the stability of our electric grid, and protects our environment. The first phase of Act 129, adopted in 2008, generated nearly $300 million in annual savings for Pennsylvanians.

Tom Wolf

I believe we have an opportunity to use the Marcellus Shale as a bridge to a clean energy future. Gamesa’s decision to close its Ebensburg facility is a step in the wrong direction – we need to be expanding the use of renewable energy sources. As governor, I will work to create market conditions that encourage the increased use and development of renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies in Pennsylvania.

4.   Using the potential Shell ethane cracker plant in Beaver County as an example, how would you, as governor, balance environmental and human health protection with key economic development opportunities?

Tom Corbett

First and foremost, Pennsylvania must continue to position itself to attract world-class manufacturing facilities as the one proposed by Shell for western Pennsylvania. That is why I have worked hard, and in a bipartisan manner, to foster continued improvements to our economic and business climate in Pennsylvania. Pennsylvania is now on the map for consideration of these projects.

The balance of protecting the environment while encouraging job growth must start with the premise that these two objectives are not mutually exclusive. Indeed, we can and must protect the environment while attracting capital investment opportunities. Fostering new manufacturing opportunities can help to reuse existing brownfields, limit greenfield development, and generate new revenue to help address legacy environmental needs. Additionally, early engagement with prospective project developers – like I have done with Shell – enable us to lay out clearly the environmental expectations to protect our air, water and land resources and to work through the permitting process in a manner that ensures those protections are met.

Rob McCord

The notion that environmental protection must come at the expense of healthy economy is a false choice. We can accomplish both simultaneously.

While certain remediation work will be associated with the proposed cracker plant in Beaver County and the end of smelting work at the Horsehead property will lead to a decrease in heavy metal emissions, we cannot – and should not – discount the possible impacts to air quality from other threats. The VOC and NOx emissions from a Shell plant will be enormous relative to other emitters in the region, putting further pressure on southwestern Pennsylvania’s air quality and its ability to meet federal attainment levels. The state must be diligent in ensuring best possible technologies are at work should Shell develop this plant, and their operations could create demand for offset credits, which may spur other industries to ramp up their pollution prevention measures, bringing more investment and jobs to the region.

Furthermore, we should understand the implications of development to human health. The air pollutants mentioned previously are precursors to smog, which can pose serious risks to children, the elderly, and those with cardiac and respiratory conditions. Many other pollutants associated with cracker plants are known carcinogens, as well. This underscores the need for extensive study as the project moves forward so that we can understand and mitigate the potential impacts.

One final note is that my administration will be committed to social and environmental justice. Too often, poor or economically depressed regions are made to suffer a disproportionate share of environmental threats. People in these areas may be enticed by the promise of employment in the short-term while giving little consideration to the long-term implications on their health. I want to be a governor who gives a voice to the voiceless and is always guided by sound science in policy-making and implementation so that we are not sacrificing our future quality of life – and intentionally or unintentionally creating future challenges – for the sake of near term gain.

Katie McGinty

Sustainability should be at the heart of everything we do: inventing new approaches and technologies that protect the environment while we grow the economy. I’ve spent my entire career working to show that solving environmental problems is an opportunity for innovation and job creation. As chairman of the White House Council on Environmental Quality under President Clinton, senior advisor on environmental matters to Senator and Vice-President Al Gore, and head of the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection under Governor Ed Rendell — I have the track record that proves we can put people to work as we clean up and protect the environment.

With respect to the cracker plant in particular, I would work to ensure that the plant met and exceeded all health and environmental requirements. Further, I would also work to develop end use markets for the ethanes produced so that the economic upside of the project is maximized.

Allyson Schwartz

Gov. Corbett proposes to throw hundreds of millions of state tax dollars at the energy industry to attract this plant to Pennsylvania. Neither the current governor nor the industry has revealed much information about the scope or impact the plant could have on our environment. As governor, I will be require the highest possible environmental standards and safeguards, if the plant proposal moves forward.

Environmental protection and economic development are not only compatible, they are immeasurably linked. The Commonwealth cannot – will not – be an attractive place to do business if we do not uphold the highest standards.

As governor, I will require strict environmental standards in energy, land development, and all public projects. To promote green construction and the upgrading of existing buildings, I support Rep. Matt Smith’s proposal to create a High Performance Buildings Tax Credit for residential and commercial owners. I also support revitalizing the underutilized High Performance Building Program to encourage green construction and renovations. And I believe that Pennsylvania must be a leader in adopting state-of-the art building codes, which are vital to reducing energy use and ensuring safety.

Tom Wolf

The Marcellus Shale provides a great opportunity to grow and transform Pennsylvania’s manufacturing economy. One specific example is the potential Shell ethane cracker, plant where natural gas would be broken down to create ethylene. Because ethylene is used in 90 percent of all manufactured goods, there is a huge potential to attract new manufacturing businesses to the state and for those already here to expand.

But we must do it smartly and fairly. For instance, it’s simply not right that Pennsylvania is the only major gas producing state in the country that does not charge a tax on oil and natural gas extraction–even Texas does. And we must be vigilant about public health and safety in the process of tapping our natural resources. If done correctly, this is an opportunity for Pennsylvania to have good-paying energy jobs; a safe and secure environment; and the ability to make critical investments in education, healthcare, and infrastructure through a tax on oil and natural gas extraction.

5.   Do you think federal regulation of natural gas operations is appropriate? If so, why?

Tom Corbett

States are best equipped to regulate natural gas operations. We have a proven and strong history of oversight in Pennsylvania, and states are best equipped to account for their unique and individual geology, geography, topography and other factors that may vary from state to state and make a national, cookie-cutter regulatory approach unwieldy and ineffective. Under my administration, oversight and inspections are up, and out of proposals put forth by my Marcellus Shale Advisory Commission – on which the Pennsylvania Environmental Council was a key contributor – I proposed, championed and then signed the most sweeping and comprehensive enhancement to our environmental protection laws in over twenty five years.

This hands-on, personal interaction – where Pennsylvanians put forth concrete proposals that fit Pennsylvania’s needs – demonstrates the preference in continuing the decades of success of state primacy of natural gas regulation.

Rob McCord

I do not think it’s necessary for Pennsylvania. First, I do not want the politics of Washington interfering with the well being of our communities. Second, if Pennsylvania is responsible for meeting and correcting the range of environmental challenges we face, we should also possess the responsibility to act in a way we see fit, not in a way that is dictated by people beyond our borders.

The reality is that Pennsylvania has a long history of natural resource development, especially in the area of natural gas. Because of that experience, our regulators have special expertise and knowledge of the state’s geology and geography, which is critical in assuring safe development. The differences between states on these matters means a one-size-fits-all approach is impossible.

Katie McGinty

As with the broad variety of environmental issues, there is a sharing of responsibilities between federal and state agencies when it comes to shale gas. In the air quality and water quality areas, the federal government has been putting forward new approaches (e.g. queen completions) and health-based standards, and the states are deploying their resources and expertise to tailor and ensure proper enforcement of requirements.

Allyson Schwartz

I believe both state and federal regulation are necessary. As a member of Congress, I have fought long and hard to improve federal regulation of natural gas operations.

I opposed the “Halliburton Loophole” in the 2005 Energy Policy Act to exempt the oil and gas industry from the Safe Drinking Water Act. [HR 6, Vote 445, 6/28/2005].

I co-sponsored the Fracturing Responsibility and Awareness of Chemicals Act to require the disclosure of the chemicals used in fracking fluids and to eliminate the oil and gas industry’s exemption from the Safe Drinking Water Act. [HR 1084, 112th Congress; HR 1912, 113th Congress]

I co-sponsored the Bringing Reductions to Energy’s Airborne Toxic Health Effects Act (BREATHE Act) to eliminate loopholes for the oil and gas industry under the Clean Air Act. The BREATHE Act requires companies to use the best available technology to reduce air pollution. [HR 1154, 113th Congress]

I co-sponsored the Focused Reduction of Effluence and Stormwater runoff through Hydrofracking Environmental Regulation (FRESHER) Act to eliminate an oil and gas industry loophole in the Clean Water Act. My bill required facilities to develop Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plans and to obtain a permit detailing potential stormwater discharges. [HR 1175, 113th Congress]

I co-sponsored the Closing Loopholes and Ending Arbitrary and Needless Evasion of Regulations (CLEANER) Act to eliminate an exemption that allowed oil and gas companies not to comply with hazardous waste disposal standards. [HR 2825, 113th Congress]

In 2005, the Philadelphia Gas Works proposed turning its Port Richmond port facility on the Delaware River into a liquefied natural gas import terminal. I secured a provision in the Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Act of 2006 to prohibit the Coast Guard from approving the facility until the Coast Guard conducted a vulnerability assessment. [Section 415 of P.L. 109-241]

Tom Wolf

One of the roles of government is to enact rules and regulations that are in the collective interests of both current and future residents. This includes regulations on natural gas operations to protect our environment and keep residents healthy and safe. In this vein, I will work with Senator Casey to promote policies to protect our fresh air and clean water.

As governor, my focus will be to take a responsible approach to natural gas drilling that includes enacting a five percent extraction tax and taking actions to protect our environment. Specifically, I will increase funding for the Department of Environmental Protection so that it is sufficiently staffed and able to provide proper oversight of drillers, and bringing greater transparency to the fracking process by requiring drillers to publicly disclose chemicals used in the hydraulic fracturing process, and lifting the current gag order on physicians.

6.   What specific actions would you take in your first 100 days as governor to address the most significant environmental issues you believe are facing Pennsylvania?

Tom Corbett

I would continue my strong commitment to environmental protection, which has to date included proposing and then enacting some of the highest and most sweeping environmental law protections in the nation; propose a budget that allows the Department of Environmental Protection and our other agencies to fulfill their mission and responsibilities (as I have done with DEP, reversing eight years of budget cuts under the prior administration, and unlike the final three years of the prior administration, not furloughing any DEP employees to balance the budget). I would also ensure continued accountability, strong leadership, and commitment to problem solving from our key environmental protection officials, both in our central office and across the Commonwealth.

Rob McCord

Pennsylvania faces a host of environmental challenges that require smart, innovative approaches to protect our environment and grow the economy. Broadly speaking, as governor, I will commit my administration to developing smart energy and environmental policies that protect our land and improve the quality of our air and water.

Specifically, during my first 100 days, I will put forth a budget that begins to restore the funding cuts to DEP and ceases the raid on the Oil and Gas Lease Fund to finance general government operations at DCNR (instead relying on traditional General Fund appropriations as historically was the case prior to the recession). Secondly, I will introduce legislation that reflects my plan to impose a 10% drillers’ tax on natural gas developers, as that revenue will be critical to addressing our state’s most pressing needs – particularly education.

Lastly, I will offer up a comprehensive economic development package of bills that calls for historic new investments in energy development, conservation, and programs to improve the quality of our water infrastructure. This last issue of especially important, but has recently been overlooked in the policy debates over infrastructure investments. Few areas are as important to our health and economic competitiveness as access to clean and safe water supplies. DEP has previously reported that Pennsylvania faces a $36 billion shortfall when it comes to funding for our drinking water and wastewater systems, and we need billions of dollars more for the ongoing maintenance and operation of these systems. Addressing that challenge will be a top priority of my administration.

Katie McGinty

On Day One, I will direct the Acting Secretary of Environmental Protection and the Acting Secretary of the Department of Natural Resources to review and immediately provide strategic operational direction to bring back the integrity and focus the efforts of the respective departments to their core mission and functions: protecting Pennsylvania’s land, air, water and natural resources.

I will direct and expect the revamping of regulatory standards to ensure environmental safety that have fallen short under this current administration. In addition, I will propose a reasonable severance tax” on shale development as I have proposed.

Beyond this focus on the natural gas sector, I will direct both DEP and DCNR Acting Secretary’s to once again tap into the growing demand for alternative energy and energy efficiency that has been ignored during the Corbett Administration. By refocusing the efforts and resources of the Commonwealth, we will bring new business to the state while also providing incentives for existing businesses and individuals to develop more energy efficient practices.

Allyson Schwartz

I will nominate an experienced, well-qualified, scientifically-minded environmental steward to be my secretary of Environmental Protection. I will ensure that the department’s actions are guided by the best practices and the best science.

One of the urgent actions I will take as a new governor is to address the staffing shortage in the Department of Environmental Protection. Corbett has let it become a hollowed out agency without enough cops on the beat.

I will also seek immediate legislative action on the proposals I will present for a shale severance tax and new regulations replacing Act 13.

Tom Wolf

Within my first 100 days in office, I will:

— Appoint qualified individuals to lead the Department of Environmental Protection and the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. These leaders will be responsible for bringing greater transparency to the fracking process, proactively addressing climate change, and promoting policies that are in the best interest of current and future residents — not special interests;

— Submit a budget that includes additional funding for the Department of Environmental Protection so that it is sufficiently staffed and able to provide oversight of natural gas drillers; and

— Introduce legislation to enact a five percent extraction tax on natural gas.