Legislative Agenda for 2017
Each year PennEnvironment sets program priorities. In addition to helping us measure our progress, the program agenda lets decision-makers know which high priority environmental items our members want us to tackle.
2017-2018 Legislative Agenda:
Promoting Clean Energy,Tackling Climate Change
Pennsylvania is uniquely positioned to tap into the new
clean energy economy that relies on homegrown renewable
energy sources like wind and solar power, and prioritizes
energy efficiency and conservation. This is a triple win for
Pennsylvania: it will make our air healthier to breathe and
help tackle climate change; it can create thousands of new
clean energy jobs; and it will save consumers and businesses
money on their utility bills. We support:
Tapping into clean energy: The General Assembly should
support policies to close loopholes in PA’s solar programs
that give out-of-state businesses the upper-hand in receiving
solar tax credits; to increase solar energy requirements for
the state’s energy suppliers; and policies that will promote
more onshore and offshore commercial-scale wind energy
Promoting Energy Efficiency and Conservation: The cleanest
and cheapest energy is the energy we never use in the first
place. The General Assembly should increase energy conservation
requirements under Act 129, our cornerstone energy
efficiency law, and oppose efforts to weaken this program.
Legislators should also authorize commercial Property Assessed
Clean Energy (C-PACE) programs (SB234) to create
finance mechanisms for business owners to implement clean
energy improvements to commercial properties.
Encouraging Green Building Construction: More than 50%
of the energy we use is to heat, cool, and light our homes
and buildings. Yet instead of tapping into the technology at
our fingertips to promote energy conservation in building
construction, efforts are underway to further weaken energy
efficiency standards for buildings. The legislature should
oppose proposals to weaken energy efficiency standards in
Pennsylvania’s building codes and instead should push to
make the state a leader in this technology.
Reducing our Reliance on Dirty, Dangerous energy sources: To
protect our environment and public health, we must halt our reliance
on dirty and dangerous forms of energy. The General Assembly
should oppose efforts to subsidize fossil fuels and other
dirty sources, including proposals to give financial incentives to
non-renewable sources like incineration, nuclear power, and gas
through the Alternative Energy Portfolio Standard (AEPS).
Protecting Pennsylvania from fracking
Fracking contaminates local streams, rivers and drinking water
supplies; puts our state parks and forests at risk; and emits
air pollution that puts our environment and public health at
risk. PennEnvironment supports:
Severance Tax: Pennsylvania remains the only state in the
nation with fracking activities that has not implemented a
severance tax. It’s time the General Assembly enact a severance
tax on all fracking operations immediately.
Protecting Pennsylvania’s natural heritage from fracking:
Drilling companies have nearly unfettered access to huge
swaths of the Commonwealth, yet they continue to press for
fracking in some of Pennsylvania’s most pristine and ecologically-
sensitive places, including our state parks, forests and
other public lands, and within the Delaware River watershed
which supplies drinking water to 8 million people. The General
Assembly should oppose any legislation to open these
protected areas to dangerous fracking, including SR617.
Defend fracking health safeguards from repeal: Oil and gas
interests have aggressively pushed to undo much-needed public
health safeguards for their activities. Legislators should oppose
efforts to weaken protections from air pollution emitted by
fracking (SB175), and ongoing attacks on the Ch. 78 regulations.
Ban Fracking: Gas drillers have shown that they are unable or
unwilling to comply with basic environmental laws and principles,
contaminating drinking water, and putting our health at
risk. Until drillers can guarantee the protection of all the state’s
residents and environment, PennEnvironment supports a
moratorium on all fracking operations in Pennsylvania.
Land, Conservation, & Water
From the Delaware Water Gap to Ohiopyle, Pennsylvania is
defined by its incredible natural heritage. These outdoor places
provide clean drinking water to our communities, and are a
destination for millions of visitors to hike, fish, and camp. Preserving
Pennsylvania’s great outdoors must be a top priority for
the General Assembly. PennEnvironment supports:
Funding our critical conservation programs: Legislators should
defend Growing Greener, the Keystone Fund, and the
Farmland Preservation Program from budget cuts, and
oppose efforts to divert dedicated funding away from these
critical conservation programs.
Keep Public Lands Public: Legislators should oppose the
so-called “parks for cash” legislation that would allow local
politicians to sell off community parklands or open spaces,
doing irreparable harm to our parks and local quality of life.
Properly Funding Environmental Protection: Legislators
should properly fund PA-DEP, DCNR and DRBC (Delaware
River Basin Commission). The General Assembly should oppose
legislation that requires these agencies to rely on monies
from anti-environmental activities like the Oil and Gas Lease
Save the Bees: The success of Pennsylvania’s agricultural and
food production hinges on our pollinators. Given the massive
colony collapse that is putting bees and other pollinators at
risk, legislators should support policies to ban the pesticides
that are a primary culprit of this chronic species decline.
Lead in Drinking Water: After the Flint, Michigan catastrophe,
it’s clear that we must take greater steps to protect public health
from the threat of lead in our drinking water. The General Assembly
should support policies to require all schools in Pennsylvania
to set tough limits on lead in schools’ drinking water, require
regular testing for lead, make the findings publicly available, and
provide funding to remove lead from schools’ infrastructure.
Plastic Bag Waste: Often used just once, plastic bags take years
to decompose as they clog landfills, create litter, and pollute our
environment. Some municipalities have considered implementing
fees or banning plastic bags to solve this pollution problem. Legislators
should oppose proposals to restrict local control about when
and how municipalities attempt to reduce plastic bag pollution.
Computer recycling: As society’s reliance on electronics grow,
so does our amount of electronic waste. Yet Pennsylvania’s
current laws haven’t effectively addressed the state’s growing
e-waste problems. Legislators should support policies to expand
and improve electronic waste recycling in Pennsylvania,
and ensure we divert this waste from our landfills, incinerators
and illegal dumping.