Wolf's Plan Won't Restore Pennsylvania

Green Party of Pennsylvania
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 20, 2019
Contact:
Tim Runkle, tim@lancastergreenparty.org 
Chris Robinson, 215-843-4256, chrisrecon@netzero.net  
 
PA Green Party: Wolf’s Plan Won’t Restore Pennsylvania
 
Governor Tom Wolf in his 2019 Budget address released his vision for a spending plan to address the aging infrastructure of Pennsylvania. The Governor’s plan proposes a $4.5 billion investment targeting the health of the Commonwealth, touching issues including stormwater infrastructure, blight, brownfields cleanup and public transit.  However the Green Party of Pennsylvania (GPPA) warns that the Restore Pennsylvania plan comes with strings attached that are tied directly to the shale gas industry by marriage of the severance tax. Simply stated Governor Wolf’s plan won’t restore Pennsylvania, but it will continue to degrade our health and environment.
 
The plan makes great investments restoring our tired and underfunded state programs. Its reliance on the revenue of an oil and gas tax, however, works in opposition to the actions required to address the climate emergency. According to the research of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, we have 12 years to address the impending and irreparable harm to our planet caused by the use of fossil fuels.
 
“The most important takeaway from Wolf's severance tax proposal is that he seems to be completely missing the point when it comes to climate,” says Michael Bagdes-Canning, Cherry Valley Council Member and Butler County Green. “Locking us into a long term catastrophe for short term financial gain is foolhardy.”
 
Analysis of the budget’s proposed revenue source indicates that the 4.5 billion dollars will be obtained through the purchase of bonds and that a severance tax on natural gas will be required to pay down the bonds over their lifetime. The budget assumes a natural gas market price of less than $3 per cubic feet. The tax would yield approximately $550 million annually. To simplify the math if one ignores the interest on the bonds then the Governor’s plan will require more than 8 years of shale gas production at current levels. Pennsylvania must make plans to reduce its fossil fuel use if the climate emergency is to be averted.
 
Neal Gale, the 2018 Green Party candidate for the U.S. Senate in Pennsylvania had this to say: “We can no longer allow our state government to favor the profits of the oil and natural gas industry in Pennsylvania over the well-being of our children and everyone else, who remain threatened by the climate crisis, as it worsens throughout this century. We must demand that Governor Wolf realign his priorities and recognize that tying the funding for the Restore Pennsylvania plan to an extracted fossil fuel tax, strengthens the fossil fuel industry’s position in the state, ensuring the continued emissions of state-generated greenhouse gasses, which jeopardize the survivability of the citizens of Pennsylvania and people around the world.”
 
In another blow to the health of Pennsylvanians, the proposed budget includes a $20.7 million cut in funding for the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP).  While the administration claims this gap will be filled by fees and the federal funding, it is more likely that no relief will be seen by the Commonwealth citizens. Fees require either continued consumption or violation and the recent policy decisions made in the federal government have only cut spending on environmental issues. Further the PA DEP staff presently on the bench remains 500 less than their 2008 contingent. For an administration that oversaw the approval of gas well permits at a rate of over one per hour and miles of new gas infrastructure pipeline, it is clear that Governor Wolf is setting the stage for minimum oversight with a focus on increased revenue.
 
“Although a severance tax may appear, on its surface, to be penalizing corporations for using our natural resources and potentially harming our environment, such a tax in fact would make us reliant on those corporations for revenue,” says Beth Scroggin, chair of Chester County Green Party and GPPA Secretary. “If a local politician then wanted to run on a platform against the Mariner East 2 pipeline, for example, that politician would be painted as being against raising revenue for rebuilding PA. We should never rely on revenue raised by severance taxes.”
 
As has been typical for Governor Wolf, the Restore Pennsylvania plan comes with long lasting effects, harmful to human health and the environment, that are wrapped in immediately gratifying policies,” explained Tim Runkle, co-chair of Lancaster County Green Party and treasurer of GPPA. “The Green Party of Pennsylvania will not stand by silently while the Governor weds the future of Pennsylvania with natural gas.”
 
The Green Party is an independent political party that stands in opposition to the two corporate parties. GPPA candidates promote public policy based on the Green Party four pillars: grassroots democracy, nonviolence, ecological wisdom, and social justice/equal opportunity.  For further information about GPPA, please visit https://www.gpofpa.org.  Follow GPPA on social media: Facebook, Green Party of Pennsylvania and Twitter, @GreenPartyofPA.
 
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PA Greens call H.R. 1, “Onerous and Deceptive”

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Green Party of Pennsylvania
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

February 11, 2019
“The Green Party of Pennsylvania (GPPA, https://www.gpofpa.org/) opposes any provisions in U.S. House Resolution
1 (H.R.1) that would work to vilify or weaken progressive voices, and we are against the proposed changes for the federal matching funds program,” stated Jocolyn Bowser-Bostick, chair of the Delaware County Green Party and member of the GPPA Steering Committee.

Also referred to as the “For the People Act of 2019,” H.R. 1 was introduced by Representative John Sarbanes (D-MD) and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA). The stated purposes of this bill are to expand Americans’ access to the ballot box, reduce the influence of big money in politics, and strengthen ethics rules for public servants. H.R. 1 currently has 225 representatives listed as co-sponsors.
 
Sheri Miller, co-chair of GPPA from Adams County, said, “H.R.1 is a deceptive bill! A quietly tucked-away provision of H.R.1 will make it nearly impossible for anyone outside of the two-party system to run for president. Making it easier for people to vote will NOT improve democracy if the only choices on the ballot are the rich or the chosen!
 
H.R. 1 hinders the ability of average citizens, without high public profiles or access to large sums of money, to obtain government backed matching funds for their political campaigns at the federal level. Emily Cook, a member of Montgomery County Green Party, explained, “Included in H.R. 1 is a seriously onerous provision amending the current eligibility requirements for federal matching funds for presidential campaigns as it pertains to minor or ‘third’ parties. If passed, it would raise the minimum $5,000 per state to an outrageous $25,000!  A 500% increase in order for a campaign to receive matching funds.”
 
campaign_finance.png“If Congress passes H.R. 1 in its present form,” declared Cook, “it would effectively exclude minor political parties and independents from the presidential election landscape by making federal matching funds out of reach. For example, presently 20 people in a given state, each giving the maximum $250.00, would get the candidate to the present $5,000.00 threshold. With the proposed H.R. 1, however, it would require 125 people in a given state with a new lower maximum of $200.00 per donor to reach the new whopping $25,000 threshold and this would be for a total of at least 20 states. These matching funds are a lifeline to minor or ‘third’ parties, giving them an opportunity to be actively part of the political process.”

Chris Robinson, a GPPA delegate from the Green Party of Philadelphia, said, “There are other provisions in H.R.1 which seek to demonize leftist or progressive political organizations that harshly criticize the major political parties. H.R. 1 sees progressive candidates and policies as threats to the electoral process and national security, and it would require ‘intelligence’ agencies, such as the FBI and Homeland Security, to place progressive political groups under surveillance and to produce annual reports on them.”
 
Alan Smith, co-chair of GPPA from Chester County, explained, “People want fairness. People want a say. Grassroots democracy and social and economic justice are two of the Four Pillars of the Green Party. These are crippled by the matching-funds and surveillance pieces of H.R. 1. They automatically make candidates of the two corporate, war-mongering parties the front runners in any election. The matching-funds and the surveillance pieces undermine the whole bill making it harder for candidates without the approval of the ruling class to get on the ballot.”
 
“What good does it do to open up voter participation if your participation must be sanctioned by Wall Street and the war machine?” continued Smith. “Civic engagement must go beyond simply rubber stamping pre-approved candidates. True democracy and economic justice should allow the teacher, the custodian, and the unemployed not just a say AT THE BALLOT, but also a say in who gets ON THAT BALLOT. As currently written H.R. 1 will further disenfranchise voters and silence voices outside of the corporate mainstream. This bill I fear is a trap. Elections should be fair and free, not full of snares and fees.”
 
As Bruce Dixon has colorfully described it, “H.R. 1 is a brightly painted ice cream truck, playing loud music about voting rights, protecting the vote, ballots by mail, and getting the money out of political campaigns, and reforming the ethics of elected officials and their top appointees. But none of that stuff will pass while Republicans run the Senate, while Trump is in the White House, and while Democrats are on the corporate tit themselves.”
 
“If Democrats take the White House in 2020, you won’t see that ice cream truck or hear these promises anymore,” continued Dixon, who is on the steering committee of the Green Party of Georgia and the managing editor at Black Agenda Report. “The only things H.R. 1 can deliver are manufactured fear of the manufactured threats posed by Americans in America working for change, working to save themselves and the planet from capitalist robbery, genocide and ecocide, along with more voter suppression through the elimination of voter choices outside the two capitalist parties.”

The Green Party urges elected representatives in the House to eliminate this change to matching funds from H.R.1, as well as the other provisions that create fear of the left and seek to intimidate into silence the progressive voices that oppose the status quo. GPPA is also asking voters to sign the online Petition to Stop H.R. 1.
 
The Green Party is an independent political party that stands in opposition to the two corporate parties. GPPA candidates promote public policy based on the Green Party Four Pillars: grassroots democracy, nonviolence, ecological wisdom, and social
justice/equal opportunity. For further information about GPPA, please visitwww.gpofpa.org. Follow GPPA on social media: Facebook, Green Party of Pennsylvania and Twitter, @GreenPartyofPA

Green Party Requests UN to Takeover Fukushima Reactors

In December 2018, the Green Party of Pennsylvania (GPPA) requested the United Nations to take over the crippled nuclear reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station (Fuku) in Japan. Acting in response to a request by GPPA, the National Committee of Green Party of United States (GPUS) has adopted a proposal requesting similar actions.  The GPUS proposal contains an Open Letter to the United Nations to direct the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to take over the Japanese nuclear reactors. In addition, the GPUS requests the International Olympic Committed to transfer the 2020 Games away from Japan.  [Here’s the proposal adopted by GPUS: http://www.gp.org/fukushima_daiichi]

Involvement by the GPPA was initiated by Tom Bailey, a Green Party member from Westmoreland County. Bailey had been a student at Elizabethtown College in 1979 and was evacuated from campus during the meltdown of the nearby nuclear reactor at Three Mile Island. Since then, Bailey, now a father of three, has been concerned about the effects of the accidental release of radiation on future generations and sees the Fukushima accident and continued contamination as a serious threat.  “The Japanese government has dumped one hundred tons of fresh water into each reactor daily,” explained Bailey. “These tons of water sink through the former Fuku reactors’ floors, join the ground water below and seep into the Pacific Ocean only yards away. Dumping radioactive waste into the ocean is illegal, and its effect on the global food chain will be devastating to all life on Earth for generations.”

Therefore, GPPA has requested that the UN take action, including a new UN General Assembly resolution which would authorize the IAEA to “physically occupy nuclear facilities” when the situation there is “out of control.”

Sheri Miller, chair of GPPA, agrees with the letter’s emphasis on this generation’s accountability.  "The adults alive today must take responsibility to care for radioactive materials for what could be thousands of years. Because our generation consumed the electricity, our generation must be responsible for what we benefited from. We [should not] selfishly burden future generations.”

At the time of the Fuku disaster in 2011, the GPPA Steering Committee called for the closing and decommissioning of PA's five nuclear power plants, which contain nine operating nuclear reactors. Then GPPA Chair Ian K. Samways from Allegheny County explained, "The Fukushima nuclear power plant catastrophe in Japan is a wakeup call that this energy source is neither safe nor sustainable. The entire nuclear-power life cycle is fraught with inherent risk, which is multiplied by the possibility of human error." [See: https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/nwgreens/conversations/messages/8457]

Neal Gale, the GPPA candidate for U.S. Senate, said recently, “During the six decades that nuclear reactors have been used to generate electric power -- the first coming on-line in Shippingport, PA, in 1957 -- proponents have claimed safe and efficient operations providing inexpensive power for unlimited economic growth. The truth is something else!”  

Gale then checked off the many ills of nuclear power, “multiple system breakdowns in plants around the world leading to regional contamination zones; costs per kWh surpassing other generation fuel sources; tons of waste plutonium, unable to be safely stored, with a toxic half-life of 36 thousand years; disregard for the health of the (often indigenous) workers who mine the radioactive ore for use in the plants; and the inevitable link between the ‘waste’ product of the reactors – plutonium – and the use of that plutonium in the manufacture of nuclear armaments. We can no longer accept the multiple risks presented by this economically centralized, environmentally hazardous and technically unresolved energy source. Each nuclear plant represents not only an accident of potentially horrendous consequences waiting to happen, but a continuation of an energy strategy designed to maximize the profits of the financial elite at the expense of the rest of us. We have better, renewable choices!”

The GPUS sent its revised Open Letter and its Background with Endnotes to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) on December 18.   In 2017, the United Nations Human Rights Council found the Japanese Government had violated the human rights of residents of Japan. It ordered a reduced level of radiation exposure must be achieved for these residents. The Green Party requested that these radiation reduction levels must be achieved before the 2020 Summer Olympic Games are opened. Charging that Japan is violating the Olympic Mission, the Green Party has requested the IOC perform an inquiry to protect the residents of Japan, possible [2020 Summer] Olympians and the Pacific Ocean from unnecessary nuclear radiation.

GPUS has yet to deliver its Open Letter to the United Nations.    

The Green Party is an independent political party that stands in opposition to the two corporate parties. GPPA candidates promote public policy based on the Green Party four pillars: grassroots democracy, nonviolence, ecological wisdom, and social justice/equal opportunity. For further information about GPPA, please visit www.gpofpa.org. Follow GPPA on social media: Facebook, Green Party of Pennsylvania and Twitter, @GreenPartyofPA.


PA Greens Condemn Recent Hate Attacks

This has been a horrendous week of hate: Beginning with the Administration’s efforts to persecute and threaten the lives of millions of transgender people through a change in the official definition of gender, and ending with the unspeakable, anti-semitic tragedy in Pittsburgh.  

Green Party of Pennsylvania members extend our deepest sympathies and offer our support to the victims of these acts of violence. These unspeakable anti-semitic, cissexist, bigoted attacks are a tragic indignity to our American values. We stand in solidarity with the Tree of Life Synagogue, the trans community, and the victims of these horrific hate crimes.

The Green Party of Pennsylvania denounces all hate crime and bigotry, whether expressed through physical violence such as Saturday’s tragedy, or through policy by systematic legislation that destroys people’s lives in other ways.  We encourage tolerance, acceptance and humanism among all people.

We must work to end all forms of violence at home, in our communities, in government, and around the world. At this time of so much radicalization, heartbreak, grief, and fear for so many, we encourage all people to stand with vulnerable and persecuted populations and victims of hate. 


Green Party of PA Applauds the PA League of Women Voters' Withdrawal from the Debates

On October 12th, the League of Women Voters of Pennsylvania (LWV PA) announced the withdrawal of their co-sponsorship of the 2018 Pennsylvania Senate Debate to be held on October 20, 2018 at WPVI-TV studios in Philadelphia. 

The LWV PA statement read:

“LWV PA has partnered with WPVI for many years to provide candidate debates to voters in the Philadelphia viewing area. We value this partnership and we respect WPVI’s right to set their own criteria for candidate debates. However, LWV PA has always been a nonpartisan resource for voters and we value the trust that the public places in us to provide accurate, unbiased information so that they can make informed decisions on Election Day. When the terms for this debate were first negotiated between LWV PA and WPVI, the rules for ballot access were different; since then, a federal settlement has allowed third parties greater access to the ballot, and LWV PA amended our criteria for inclusion in our debates to reflect that. Therefore, we will not participate in debates that do not invite all balloted candidates.”     

The Green Party of Pennsylvania (GPPA) applauds the LWV PA decision. By their withdrawal, the LWV PA demonstrates their commitment to providing the Commonwealth with unbiased information that is necessary for an informed electorate to select its representatives through fair and free elections.  

The GPPA has tirelessly fought the bureaucratic barriers of the Commonwealth which function as the means to silence the wide range of political views shared by its citizens. With our allies in democracy, the Libertarian Party of Pennsylvania and Constitution Party of Pennsylvania, the GPPA has successfully achieved a reduction in exorbitant requirements for minor political parties to gain access to the electoral ballot. We now face obstruction from media outlets and pollsters who create arbitrary requirements for inclusion in polls, reporting, or debates.

In order to ensure an informed and engaged electorate in the Commonwealth it is critical for organizations like the LWV PA to make bold statements such as their withdrawal from this debate. We appreciate the LWV PA’s steadfast commitment to democracy and encourage others to follow their lead.

 


Green Party of Pennsylvania Strongly Opposes PA SB652

The Environmental Resources and Energy Committee of the Pennsylvania House will vote tomorrow, September 25th, on SB652, which institutes severe penalties for protesting (or even supporting a protest online) of “critical infrastructure” properties, including pipelines.  This bill has already passed in the Pennsylvania Senate.

The Green Party of Pennsylvania joins the Pennsylvania Sierra Club and the Pennsylvania ACLU in voicing strong opposition to SB652.  This bill creates a new category that classifies 21 different types of facilities as “critical infrastructure” facilities and imposes severe penalties for anyone who enters or attempts to enter the property or “conspires with another person to commit a prohibited act.”  A first offense would result in a felony offense which would be punishable by up to a year in jail and a fine of not less than $5,000.

Some of the properties classified as critical infrastructure facilities include dams, refineries, manufacturing plants, power plants, truck terminals, and pipelines.  Pipelines are counted whether they are above or below ground and at any stage of construction, or even just as an easement, prior to beginning construction. The entire bill can be downloaded here.

This bill is redundant in that there are already strict penalties for people who are convicted of trespassing or destruction of property in general. It is clear by the frequency in which pipelines are mentioned, that this bill is a blatant attempt to suppress peaceful, free-speech protests against pipelines and stifle online opposition through prosecution of supporters as co-conspirators, subjecting them to the same penalties for simply sharing information.  The bill is in the same language as other ALEC bills (American Legislative Exchange Council), written for the corporations that authored it. It is not meant to protect our "critical infrastructure" but rather to protect corporate profits.  

What you can do:

Contact representatives on the Environmental Resources and Energy Committee as early as possible on Tuesday morning, September 25th to let them know you oppose this bill and believe it is an attempt to take away your 1st Amendment right to speak out against pipelines.  Contact information for Committee members can be found here.

Watch for results of the Committee vote and be ready to contact your legislators if the Bill moves forward to a full House vote.


Green Party of Pennsylvania Condemns a Petition by 16 States Urging SCOTUS to Allow LGBT Discrimination in Employment

The Green Party of Pennsylvania condemns the actions of 16 state attorneys general who last week filed a “Friend of the Court Brief,” petitioning the US Supreme Court to overturn the appeals court decision against a Michigan funeral home that fired a transgender employee for being transgender.  Included in the Green Party 10 Key Values are social justice, gender equity, and respect for diversity.

We at GPPA believe that Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which prohibits employment discrimination based on sex, applies to people of any gender identity as well as any sexual orientation and must continue to be upheld. How people harmlessly express their gender or sexuality is of no rational relevance to their job performance and should be viewed much like their eye color as being irrelevant to employment decisions.



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