While much of the attention of recent Letters to the Editor has been directed to the calamitous events occurring in Washington, we must also keep an eye on what is going on in the Pennsylvania Senate and House. While the citizens of our state want clean water and air and our health protected, our representatives and senators are busy working to promote the gas industry’s profits over public health.
Our Republican-controlled state legislature is busy working to profit the gas industry at the expense of billions of dollars for Pennsylvania. They have already given Shell a $1.6 billion tax break for a “cracker” plant in western Pennsylvania. Now they are extending this offer to others in HB 1100. Tax breaks so extensive that the cost of building new plants will almost be covered by the massive tax breaks offered. Tax breaks like this are a backdoor form of corporate welfare.
HB 1100 is one bill in a set of proposed bills labeled “energize Pennsylvania.” Bills that will make it easier for the polluters to pollute and threaten the public health and the health of Pennsylvania’s streams and forests. Bill’s that focus on short term corporate profits and not the oncoming crisis of climate change. Greta Thunberg, the young Swedish climate activist, addressing the United Nations stated “all you can talk about is money and fairytales of eternal economic growth.” These troglodyte legislators defend their backward thinking on the “jobs, jobs, jobs” mythology. There are already more jobs in clean energy than in the dirty fuels industries. The transition to clean energy will mean the loss of some jobs, but we can help those workers transition to the countless jobs that will be created in the clean energy sector.
On the Senate Side we have SB790. A bill that will, if enacted, weaken reporting standards on leaks and spills, allow drillers to replace clean drinking water with water that doesn’t meet clean drinking water standards, allow for the spreading of highly contaminated wastewater as a dust suppressant, and preempt local ordinances. All this to promote corporate profits at our expense.
Senator Yaw has written that it would be a mistake to have a moratorium on fracking, but he has never had his well poisoned, his children made ill, the health of his dairy cattle degraded, or a pipeline blowout near him. Any further development of the gas industry is another destructive blow to our children’s future. If you think that natural gas is “clean” like Senator Yaw states, then you have consumed the industries cool-aide. From the wellhead to combustion, everything about natural gas is dirty. The Physicians for Social Responsibility and Concerned Health Professionals of New York has stated “there is no evidence that fracking can operate without threatening public health directly and without imperiling climate stability upon which the public depends.”
Most of our Republican so-called leaders live on that river in Egypt called denial. The conclusion that we face climate crisis is supported by overwhelming evidence. The International Panel on Climate Change and the National Climate Assessment, which was produced by the agencies of the Trump Administration, tell us that we have only a window of 10 years before massive destruction is built into the climate system. Our legislative leaders in Harrisburg are leading us in exactly the wrong direction. They should be promoting the transition from carbon bases fuels to energy sources that don’t create greenhouse gases. The wealth of the fossil fuels industries glimmers in their eyes.
The leaders in our state legislature are modern-day lemmings leading us over a carbon fueled cliff. It seems that they are impervious to evidence, evidence that climate change is already here and much more serious consequences are just around the corner. It is time to put the long term health of Pennsylvania and its citizens ahead of the short term corporate profits. It is time to put into office leaders who base their action on evidence and not on the wish lists of the corporations.
Jack D. Miller lives in Lewisburg.