No Subsidies to Fracking and Petrochemicals
-- By Garret Wassermann.
We live in a time when the climate crisis is worsening and accelerating, and reports are growing about childhood cancer and other health impacts to communities near oil/gas development. Voting now in favor of subsidies to the gas industry is worse than being tone-deaf. It is flatout climate denial. It is siding with corporate profits over the health and safety of our children.
The Pittsburgh City Paper reached out to legislators in Allegheny County to ask if they supported or opposed petrochemical industry development in the region. Incumbent PA Representative Anita A. Kulik (D-District 45) did not respond to multiple requests for comment. After the bipartisan vote in favor of HB 1100 on February 4, we know for sure exactly where Kulik stands.
157 state legislators in the House, including Kulik, voted on a bipartisan basis in favor of HB 1100, a bill that promises billions of dollars over decades to the gas and petrochemical industry. This vote was extremely bipartisan, with only 35 representatives voting against it. The majority of Democrats joined most Republicans to vote in favor of this bill.
Unfortunately, HB 1100 passed the Senate too, with another bipartisan 39-11 vote, including a Yes vote from my state Senator Wayne Fontana (D). Again, most Democrats joined Republicans in voting in favor of this bill.
Having passed both the House and Senate, it must be signed by the Governor to become law. Governor Wolf has said he will veto the bill, which on the surface appears to be good. If we dig a bit deeper, however, we see the real reason: Wolf “thinks such incentives should be evaluated on a case-by-case basis” according to a spokesperson. So Wolf isn’t opposed to giving more money to petrochemicals, he just wants to have a little more say over who gets it. Given Wolf’s support for the Shell “cracker plant,” it’s not unfair to think he wants more petrochemicals. The vote for HB 1100 was unacceptable, and Wolf’s attempt at leaving open the door for more subsidies is also unacceptable. I would have very proudly voted No on this bill if I was elected.
The Republican “Energize PA” plan and the Democratic “Restore PA” plan both are focused on fossil fuel development. Neither is a real solution to Pennsylvania’s economic, environmental, and health problems. This is why I advocate a Green New Deal to address pollution and the climate crisis while also boosting our economy and creating many more jobs in renewable energy and green infrastructure. Imagine the jobs we could create with the billions they’ve promised to petrochemicals, if we simply spent the same amount of money on renewable energy and protecting our drinking water infrastructure, for example.
We don’t have to sacrifice our health and environment for jobs. I completely reject this idea that jobs must come from petrochemicals. It isn’t true, and only shows elected officials aren’t taking our health and environment seriously.
Garret Wassermann is the Green Party candidate for PA House District 45. Garret is also leader of the Green Party of Pennsylvania Green Wave Team and vice-chair of the Green Party of Allegheny County. To help Garret get on the 2020 ballot, please contact him at https://votegarret.org/get-involved/. To contribute to Garret’s campaign, please send your check or money order to “Vote Garret Wassermann,” P.O. Box 85, Coraopolis, PA 15108.
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