Throughout his campaign, Josh Shapiro told us repeatedly that there were two ways he would move Pennsylvania in a better direction: improving transparency, and supporting an “all of the above energy approach,” including Pennsylvania natural gas.
Two weeks into his governorship, Shapiro received an all-expenses paid trip to the Super Bowl — something most of us can only dream of — courtesy of a publicly funded foundation and has released none of the details. So much for transparency.
In his budget address last month, he signaled he would maintain Pennsylvania’s membership in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), a policy agreement that will make it economically impossible for Pennsylvania’s natural gas industry to operate, fatally undermining our state-wide energy sector. So much for supporting an industry that supports the employment of over six percent of our commonwealth.
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Earlier last week, however, the Governor appears to have combined his lack of commitment to transparency and his opposition to Pennsylvania energy into one by setting the standards by which his working group on climate change will operate: behind closed doors and without publicly available information.
To date, there is a lot we don’t know about the Governor’s working group: how large it is, who all its members are, what its guidelines are, and what its charge is. Furthermore, the Governor has assented to its meeting in total privacy, is allowing it to convene without recording or releasing public minutes, and has refused to detail the timeline the group is working on.
Governor Shapiro’s unwillingness to be forthright on his stance on energy might be politically expedient for him, but it’s quite literally costing communities across the commonwealth. Take Renovo in Clinton County, for instance. The borough, which had been relying on the construction of a $1B clean natural gas-fired electric plant for the last several years, just received news that the project has been killed by activists who live far from the borough.
There are many places across Pennsylvania that are hungry for — and deserve — industry, development, good-paying jobs, and the tax revenue that comes with all of it. The cancellation of a project like the one in Renovo is devastating. Without the projected revenue that follows, alleys and small streets that have gone 50 years or more without resurfacing remain unpaved, schools remain in disrepair, and small business owners who made investments anticipating economic development lose massively.
Governor Shapiro’s unwillingness to be forthright on his stance on energy might be politically expedient for him, but it’s quite literally costing communities across the commonwealth.
Projects like the one in Renovo will continue to die if Governor Shapiro continues down the road he is on — publicly offering platitudes on support for our energy industry while undermining it behind closed doors, keeping Pennsylvania in RGGI, all while stifling transparency regarding his administration’s efforts on these issues.
Pennsylvania’s energy sector is the bedrock of our commonwealth’s economy and offers communities like Renovo their best chance at a brighter, more prosperous future.
We deserve leaders who understand these realities. We need leaders who believe what most Democrat and Republican voters alike across our commonwealth do:
That we can protect the environment without putting communities like Renovo behind the eight ball.
That undermining an industry that supports the employment of 500,000 people across Pennsylvania, drives economic growth and rejuvenation in locales that need them most, and keeps energy bills down for working families, helps no one.
That science is clear. Natural gas is 60 percent cleaner than coal and 30 percent cleaner than oil, and its substitution for those dirtier fuels continues to slash our emissions and make our environment cleaner and more sustainable.
That our leaders should be honest and forthright with us about their plans and intentions.
Governor Shapiro — we deserve to know where you stand.
David Galluch is a U.S. Naval Academy graduate, former Naval Special Operations Officer, and Chairman of Keystone Forward, a nonprofit advocacy group for transparency, good government and free market solutions based in Harrisburg.
One thought on “David Galluch: Pennsylvania’s energy future, hidden behind a locked door”
“We need leaders who believe what most Democrat and Republican voters alike across our commonwealth do – that we can protect the environment without putting communities like Renovo behind the eight ball.”
Well stated Mr. Galluch!