Better Path Coaliton to Senate and House Democratic Cosponsors of Restore PA

Dear Legislators,

We are writing to you because you are cosponsors of Governor Wolf’s Restore Pennsylvania legislation. It is a dangerous bill that condemns the state to 20 more years of drilling and fracking in order to generate enough severance tax dollars to pay back the debt his spending plan would incur. In addition, the provisions within Restore Pennsylvania include fossil fuel subsidies. The climate impacts of shale gas development are well documented, as are the profound health, safety, environmental, and economic impacts. We have been calling on you to remove your names from the list of cosponsors. Based on some of the responses we’ve received, we thought it was important to explain our rationale.

We’ve heard from some of you that you plan to vote no on the bill you cosponsored. Others of you have said the bill is going nowhere, so there’s no need to take any action. We would argue that both of those responses presume that Governor Wolf will campaign for Restore Pennsylvania this fall. And, if it fails, he’ll campaign for it again next year.  And the year after that. And the year after that. Taking a passive stance to allow the process to play itself out wastes precious time we have precious little of. Acting now by removing your names tells Governor Wolf it’s time to move on.

That message could not be more important. As the climate crisis intensifies, our state, the second biggest natural gas producer in the country and a state responsible for one percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, has been perilously slow to act on climate. Almost all of the very good legislative efforts that have been made aim to reduce emissions from consumption of fossil fuels. They only address production as it relates to consumption within the state. They don’t address the fact that even if we transitioned to 100% renewable energy tomorrow, production would continue for export and for the plastics market. We cannot play the role we must in averting outright climate disaster if we don’t address both consumption and production. While we may differ on when and how to phase out greenhouse gas production, we would hope that none of you thinks that we can be drilling and fracking for twenty more years.

The severance tax has been the greatest obstacle to acting on climate and protecting Pennsylvanians and our environment from shale gas development’s immediate impacts. Just this year, Governor Wolf has made well over 60 stops on his tour to promote Restore Pennsylvania. On July 26th, he announced the Pennsylvania Council on Aging had unanimously endorsed Restore Pennsylvania. In fact, today the DEP is in Luzerne County to sell the Governor’s plan. We need our governor to put his time, energy, and political capital into solving the climate crisis, not intensifying it.

When Daryl Metcalfe and Scott Martin bring climate deniers to Harrisburg, the loudest counter to that coming from the Governor is that Pennsylvania needs a severance tax. That’s the debate the industry wants our government to have. It’s obviously the one they can win. And, after all, both sides of that debate are pro-fracking.

Pulling your support of Restore Pennsylvania will make it possible for the real conversation to happen, the one that is way overdue here. The third thing we’ve been told by many of you is that nothing can happen with Republicans controlling the legislature. Clearly, that hasn’t stopped Governor Wolf. Don’t let it stop you. Please remove your names from Restore Pennsylvania.

Respectfully,

Better Path Coalition Planning Group

Michael Bagdes-Canning, Marcellus Outreach Butler

Laurie Barr, Save Our Streams PA & Save the Allegheny

Chris DiGiulio, Upper Uwchlan Residents for Safety

Arianne Elinich, Bucks County Concerned Citizens Against the Pipelines

Karen Feridun, Berks Gas Truth

Sharon Furlong, Bucks Environmental Action & Bucks County Sierra Club

Tom Hocking, Individual member

Tammy Murphy, Physicians for Social Responsibility Pennsylvania

Tim Spiese, Lancaster  Against Pipelines

Craig Stevens, Patriots From The Oil & Gas Shales

Questions? Contact us at betterpathpa@gmail.com    

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