In December 2019, Pittsburgh City Paper reached out to legislators in Allegheny County to ask if they supported or opposed the petrochemical industry development in the region. Incumbent state representative Anita Kulik (D) did not respond to multiple requests for comment, according to Pittsburgh City Paper. After the bipartisan vote in favor of HB 1100 on February 4th, 2020, we know for sure exactly where Kulik stands.
157 state legislators in the House, including Kulik, voted on a bipartisan basis in favor of HB 1100, a bill that promises billions of dollars over decades to the natural gas and petrochemical industry. This vote was extremely bipartisan, with only 35 representatives voting against; the majority of Democrats joined most Republicans to vote in favor of this bill.
Unfortunately, HB 1100 passed the Senate too, with another bipartisan 39-11 vote, including a Yes vote from my state Senator Wayne Fontana (D). Again, most Democrats joined Republicans in voting in favor of this bill.
Having passed both the House and Senate, it must be signed by the Governor to become law. Governor Wolf has said he will veto the bill, which on the surface appears to be good, but if we dig a bit deeper we see the real reason: Wolf “thinks such incentives should be evaluated on a case-by-case basis” according to a spokesperson. So Wolf isn’t opposed to giving more money to petrochemicals, he just wants to have a little more say over who gets it – and given his support for the Shell “cracker plant”, it’s not unfair to think he wants more petrochemicals.
At a time when the Climate Crisis is worsening and accelerating, and reports are growing about childhood cancer and other health impacts to communities near oil/gas development, voting in favor of subsidies to the gas industry is worse than tone-deaf – it is flat out climate denial. It is siding with corporate profits over the health and safety of our children. This vote is unacceptable, and Wolf’s attempt at leaving open the door for more subsidies is also unacceptable. I would have very proudly voted No on this bill if I was elected.
The Republican “Energize PA” plan and the Democratic “Restore PA” plan both are focused on fossil fuel development. Neither is a real solution to Pennsylvania’s economic, environmental, and health problems. This is why I advocate a Green New Deal to address pollution and the climate crisis while also boosting our economy and creating many more jobs in renewable energy and green infrastructure. Imagine the jobs we could create with the billions they’ve promised to petrochemicals, if we simply spent the same amount of money on renewable energy and protecting our drinking water infrastructure, for example.
We don’t have to sacrifice our health and environment for jobs. I completely reject this idea that jobs must come from petrochemicals. It isn’t true, and only shows elected officials aren’t taking our health and environment seriously.
Please contact Kulik and Fontana – or your own state representative and senator – and tell them to oppose HB 1100. If Wolf vetoes, there has been talk of an override vote, which would make the bill into law even without Wolf’s approval. Tell Kulik, Fontana, and others to oppose a veto override.
UPDATE: March 4th: This article was also published on the Green Party of Pennsylvania website.