STATEMENT: As Pennsylvania’s residents and state programs face financial uncertainty during pandemic, General Assembly approve $670 million tax break to fracking and petrochemical industry

Governor and legislature complicit in this wrong-headed decision
For Immediate Release

PITTSBURGH -- The Pennsylvania General Assembly today passed an eye-popping $670 million, 25-year tax break for the fracking and petrochemical industry. The proposal was quietly  amended into House Bill 732 without public input or hearing on the legislation. HB732 was originally intended to help essential volunteer emergency medical services and fire departments. The deal was negotiated behind closed doors between Gov. Wolf and Republican leaders in the General Assembly. Gov. Wolf had already vetoed similar legislation earlier this spring.

This comes just two weeks after Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro released a scathing grand jury report, documenting how the fracking industry has caused chronic air and water pollution for more than a decade. The report also found a pattern of “cozy” relations between the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection and fracking companies, which resulted in a pattern of insufficient regulation and enforcement.

David Masur, executive director of PennEnvironment, issued the following statement: 

“Subsidizing dirty fossil fuels was a horrendous idea before we were plagued with the pandemic, and it’s an even worse idea today. The General Assembly’s passage of HB732 will only make it harder for Pennsylvania to tackle climate change and leave a healthy planet for our children, grandchildren, and future generations.”

“Today’s vote by the legislature shows the sad reality that the public has known for many years: politicians love to give lip service to tackling climate change. But when it’s time to cast votes to reduce climate pollution they don’t have the intestinal fortitude to do the right thing.

“For more than a decade, fracking has caused profound harm to Pennsylvania’s environment, drinking water and public health. What’s worse, the aggressive expansion of the industry that has caused these ills was made possible by state regulators, who were charged with protecting our environment and public health.

“Ironically, Pennsylvania's politicians are subsidizing these companies, even as they award golden parachutes to executives and file bankruptcies that leave environmental clean-up to the taxpayers. 

“It should go without saying, but with all the harm fracking produces, the people of Pennsylvania shouldn’t subsidize this terrible practice any longer. Pennsylvanians are already bearing unspeakable burdens, ranging from contaminated well water, childhood cancers, and sick and dying livestock, to air pollution, landslides, and pipeline explosions that have destroyed homes

“Considering we are not only in the midst of an all-out climate emergency but also a pandemic, our state leaders should be spending our money carefully. And, yet here our politicians in Harrisburg are opting to give a $670 million tax break to fossil fuel special interests. With that in mind, we will continue to fight for the governor to reconsider his position. It is the only right thing to do.” 

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PennEnvironment is a statewide non-profit environmental advocacy group dedicated to protecting our water, air and open spaces. We investigate problems, craft solutions, educate the public and decision-makers, and help the public make their voices heard in local, state and national debates over the quality of our environment and our lives. To learn more about this or PennEnvironment’s other priorities, visit our website at www.PennEnvironment.org.