During his campaign, Wolf said he would fight for a cleaner energy future -- and promised new air and water regulations on the gas industry.
A powerful coalition of some of Pennsylvania's most prominent environmental organizations came together last week to congratulate Governor-elect Wolf and to spell out five things the governor should do in his first 100 days in office. The groups involved: Clean Water Action, Conservation Voters of Pennsylvania, PennEnvironment, PennFuture, and the Sierra Club Pennsylvania Chapter
The organizations urged Governor-elect Wolf to prioritize the following during his first 100 days in office.
- Save Pennsylvania's State Parks and Forests
- Regulate Methane and Clean Up Pennsylvania's Air
- Plan for the Future on Climate and Energy
- Let the Department of Environmental Protection Protect the Environment
- Keep Our Water Safe
Save State Parks and Forests
In 2014, Corbett overturned a 2010 executive order that created a moratorium on gas leasing in public lands managed by the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. Wolf should reinstate that order and make it clear that the order applies to both state parks and state forests, and to both surface and subsurface leases. Wolf should do everything in his power to prevent natural gas development in the Clarence Moore lands of the Loyalsock State Forest.
Regulate methane and Clean Up Pennsylvania's Air
Pennsylvania ranks among the worst states in the nation for air pollution and illnesses like asthma. Currently, Pennsylvania does not directly regulate methane pollution from natural gas operations and lags behind other states in controlling air emissions. Governor-Elect Wolf should work with DEP to directly regulate methane emissions from natural gas operations. Additionally, Pennsylvania should enact a strong "Smog Rule," to limit pollutants like nitrogen oxide and volatile organic compounds.
Plan for the Future
Both state and federal laws will require Pennsylvania to adopt new plans to reduce global warming pollution in the coming years. Wolf should produce climate and energy plans based on sound science and focused on rebuilding the wind and solar industries in the state.
Let the Department of Environmental Protection Protect the Environment
Wolf can reverse Corbett's damage to the DEP's commitment and ability to enforce environmental regulations. He can start by implementing the recommendations of the state Auditor General to ensure both full transparency and strong enforcement of gas drilling rules. Wolf should overhaul the DEP's permitting process for gas drilling and create mandatory enforcement penalties to ensure that public health trumps politics and profits in gas operations. Finally, he should instruct the DEP to ban fracking waste pits, a simple way to significantly reduce the health risks of toxic fracking chemicals.
Keep Our Water Safe
The Delaware River Basin Commission currently prohibits fracking in the Delaware River Watershed, from which 15 million Americans get their drinking water. Wolf should publicly restate his support for the moratorium, seek to restore the Commission's budget, and ensure that the DRBC Commissioner from Pennsylvania works to keep our water clean. Additionally, he should push the Susquehanna River Basin Commission to launch a cumulative impact assessment of fracking on the Susquehanna watershed.
Andrew Sharp is PennFuture's director of outreach and is based in Philadelphia. He tweets at @RexBainbridge.