Voter Outpouring Blunts Oil and Gas Industry’s Influence in Harrisburg
Harrisburg, PA – Over the past couple months nearly 7,000 total calls were made by Pennsylvania voters across the Commonwealth to 91 different state legislators and the Governor opposing amendments to the state budget and severance tax that reduce clean air and clean water protections. As a result, state budget deals have had to eliminate these provisions in order to secure enough support for final passage and the Governor’s signature.
Concern was specifically raised about policies that would create a politically-appointed Air Quality Permit Advisory Committee designed to derail adoption of state methane controls, allow industries to pick their own third parties to review their permit applications instead of DEP, and would “deem approved” any unconventional oil and gas permit application that the DEP does not process fast enough regardless of whether it meets legal standards for approval.
Environmental groups applauded the efforts of Pennsylvanians to stand up for their environmental rights. “Some members of the legislature have continued to pursue creative ways to pedal anti-environmental ideas backed by the Marcellus Shale Coalition that they know could never pass on their own merit,” said Myron Arnowitt, Pennsylvania Director for Clean Water Action. “It’s thanks to push back from Pennsylvanians across the Commonwealth that these anti-environmental policies weren’t part of the final state budget and have been rejected as part of what a severance tax bill should look like.”
Recently released research into campaign finance reports, lobbying disclosure reports, lobbying registration statements and lawmakers’ statements of financial interests found that the natural gas industry has 200 registered lobbyists registered in Harrisburg and has spent nearly $4 million on lobbying this year alone.
“That the industry has little to show for such a heavy investment is that the voices of Pennsylvanians have greater value than the pocketbook of the industry,” said Steve Hvozdovich, Pennsylvania Campaigns Director. “This is what democracy looks and I applaud those members of the legislature on both sides of the aisle who listened to their constituents concerns and voted accordingly.”
Clean Water Action has more than 80,000 members statewide in Pennsylvania and is the nation's largest grassroots group focused on water, energy and environmental health. Since our founding during the campaign to pass the landmark Clean Water Act in 1972, Clean Water Action has worked to win strong health and environmental protections by bringing issue expertise, solution-oriented thinking and people power to the table. We will protect clean water in the face of attacks from a polluter friendly Administration and Congress.