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PaEnvironmentDigest Special Candidates Issue

PaEnvironmentDigest Special Candidates Issue

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Tuesday, May 20 is Primary Election Day in Pennsylvania!
To help inform this important election, the Pennsylvania Environmental Council invited all Republican and Democratic candidates on the ballot to share their views with us on the most challenging environmental issues facing the Commonwealth today.
In this special issue of the Forum, Governor Tom Corbett and his four democratic party challengers offer their views, ideas and proposals on a wide spectrum of environmental topics. We thank 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.
Tuesday, May 20 is Primary Election Day in Pennsylvania!
To help inform this important election, the Pennsylvania Environmental Council invited all Republican and Democratic candidates on the ballot to share their views with us on the most challenging environmental issues facing the Commonwealth today.
In this special issue of the Forum, Governor Tom Corbett and his four democratic party challengers offer their views, ideas and proposals on a wide spectrum of environmental topics. We thank 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.

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Published by: www.PaEnvironmentDigest.com on May 06, 2014
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PA Environment Digest
 
An Update On Environmental Issues In PA
 
Edited By: David E. Hess, Crisci Associates
 
Winner 2009 PAEE Business Partner Of The Year Award
 
Harrisburg, Pa SPECIAL EDITION May 6, 2015
 
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 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 
, 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. 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. 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 t
hese 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

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