Methane and climate change public hearing is Jan. 24 in Havertown

(Jan 14, 2019)

HARRISBURG, Jan. 14 – State Rep. Greg Vitali, D-Delaware/ Montgomery, will host a hearing of the House Democratic Policy Committee on Jan. 24 to discuss the impact of methane leakage from Pennsylvania’s oil and gas industry on climate change. Vitali is the newly appointed Democratic chairman of the House Environmental Resource and Energy Committee. The hearing will be from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Haverford Township Administration Building, 1014 Darby Road, Havertown, 19083, in the Commissioners Meeting Room. Vitali will be joined by state legislators from across the commonwealth, including Policy Committee Chairman Mike Sturla, D-Lancaster. Speakers include Dr. Richard Alley , Professor of Geosciences, Penn State University; Professor Don Brown , Scholar in Residence, Widener Law; Dr. Tony Ingraffea , Emeritus Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Cornell University; Professor Peter DeCarlo , Associate Professor of Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering , Drexel University; Rob Altenburg , Director , PennFuture Energy Center; Andrew Williams , Director of Regulatory and Legislative Affairs, U.S. Climate and Energy , Environmental Defense Fund; Dr. Arvind Ravikumar , Assistant Professor of Energy Engineering , Harrisburg University of Science and Technology; Leann Leiter , Pennsylvania and Ohio Field Advocate , EarthWorks; and Krish Ramamurthy , Director of Bureau of Air Quality, Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Read more


Vitali named Democratic chairman of the House Environmental Resources and Energy Committee

(Jan 08, 2019)

HARRISBURG, Jan. 8 – State Rep. Greg Vitali was recently named Democratic chairman of the House Environmental Resources and Energy Committee for the 2019-20 session. “We must address the serious threats facing our environment,” said Vitali, D-Delaware/Montgomery. “My focus in the legislature has been on environmental policy, and I look forward to the challenge of chairing this committee.” The committee majority chairman is state Rep. Daryl Metcalfe, R-Butler. Vitali said his priorities include increasing funding for the Department of Environmental Protection, reducing methane emissions from the oil and gas industry, and dealing with the climate change impacts of the threatened closing of the Three Mile Island nuclear power plant. Vitali previously served as a member of the Environmental Resources and Energy Committee for 24 years, spending the last four of those years as chairman. Read more


Wolf budget should properly fund DEP

(Dec 28, 2018)

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection has been severely underfunded for years. This has compromised the department’s ability to protect public health and the environment. Governor Tom Wolf’s proposed budget should restore needed resources. The DEP has suffered almost a 30 percent reduction in staff since 2002, losing over 900 positions. This has compromised its ability to reduce air and water pollution, regulate oil and gas development, combat climate change, plug abandoned oil and gas wells and protect the Chesapeake Bay. Currently, the Wolf administration is preparing its fiscal year 2019/2020 Commonwealth budget proposal, which it will present to the Pennsylvania General Assembly in early February. This proposal should fully fund environmental protection. Air quality The DEP doesn’t have sufficient personnel to monitor air quality. A 2018 EPA audit determined the DEP’s Air Quality Monitoring Division was “severely understaffed”. This understaffing has increased the risk of harmful pollutant discharge. Fewer companies are now being monitored and the air monitoring data is being viewed less frequently. This adversely affects the health of us all. Oil and gas program The DEP Oil and Gas program has lost 36 positions – down to 190 – since 2016. This program has the responsibility to review drilling permit applications, respond to complaints, inspect well sites, prevent pollution and Read more


November 2018 Newsletter

(Nov 21, 2018)

Fall 2018 Read more


Vitali: Over $200,000 in unclaimed property returned to constituents

(Aug 23, 2018)

HAVERTOWN, Aug. 23 – State Rep. Greg Vitali, D-Delaware/Montgomery, said his office has helped more than 200 constituents claim a total of over $226,000 in unclaimed property in 2018. Unclaimed property through the state Treasurer’s Office can include a closed bank account, uncashed checks, including paychecks; lost stocks and bonds; contents of safe deposit boxes; proceeds from the demutualization of insurance companies; expired gift cards/gift certificates; and more. “My district office has been able to help our constituents recover this much money because my staff proactively searches for and notifies constituents of their unclaimed property,” Vitali said. “This is how a well-functioning government office is supposed to work.” Treasury currently has more than $3.4 billion in unclaimed property. Those who would like to do their own Treasury search can do so by visiting . Those who would like assistance checking the database are encouraged to stop into Vitali’s office, where a free search only takes a short time. “There are many for-profit companies who send out solicitations to Pennsylvanians, offering to assist them claim their funds for a fee, but we do all of this work for free,” Vitali said. Read more


Wolf should move forward with methane regulations

(Jul 25, 2018)

Methane is the second-most prevalent greenhouse gas after carbon dioxide. Pennsylvania’s natural gas industry is a major methane emitter. Recently. Gov. Tom Wolf took steps to reduce methane leakage from new natural gas industry sources. Now he must keep his promise to reduce methane leakage from existing sources. Read more


July 2018 Newsletter

(Jul 13, 2018)

Summer 2018 Newsletter Read more


Trump, Pruitt waging war on fuel standards

(Apr 16, 2018)

The Trump administration by way of Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) administrator, Scott Pruitt, is attacking a program that spurs innovation, has saved consumers $4 trillion at the gas pump, and has drastically cut air pollution. Trump and Pruitt want to weaken new fuel efficiency standards for cars, SUVs and light trucks, a move that will hurt consumers and pump more greenhouse gas pollution into our atmosphere. In 1975, in response to soaring gas prices and the Arab oil embargo, Congress first passed the first fuel efficiency standards, the Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards. The first CAFE standards required automakers to almost double their new car fleets’ miles per gallon averages to 27.5 by 1985. CAFE standards for light trucks followed in 1978 requiring truck manufacturers to increase average mpg to 22.2 by 2007. In response, auto manufacturers produced a wide variety of vehicles that both met the standards and satisfied consumer demands and expectations for performance and good gas mileage. To continue improving the fuel efficiency of passenger vehicles Congress passed the Energy Independence and Security Act which required automakers to meet new, better standards – a fleetwide average of 35 mpg for cars, SUVs and light trucks. President George W. Bush signed the legislation, stating, “We make a major step toward reducing our dependence on oil, confronting global climate change, expanding the production of Read more


Vitali urges House Judiciary Committee chairman to call up gun bills for vote

(Apr 09, 2018)

HARRISBURG, April 9 – State Rep. Greg Vitali, D-Delaware/Montgomery, sent a letter to House Judiciary Chairman Ron Marsico urging him to bring specific gun safety legislation up for an immediate vote. In the letter, Vitali urged votes on H.B. 1400, which would expand background checks for sales and exchanges made at gun shows, on the internet and between private parties; H.B. 1872, which would ban deadly multi-burst trigger activators including bump stocks; and S.B. 501, which passed the Senate to protect domestic violence victims by requiring relinquishment of firearms for parties involved in protection from abuse orders and convictions of domestic violence crimes. House bills 1400 and 1872 each have more than 60 co-sponsors from both sides of the aisle. “At a time when 96 Americans die daily from gun violence, our citizens are looking to us as legislators to take action to keep guns out of the wrong hands, and keep weapons of war off of our streets,” Vitali wrote in the letter. “I urge you to take meaningful action against gun violence by bringing all three of these bills up for a vote in the House Judiciary Committee.” A copy of the letter can be viewed here . Vitali also is a co-sponsor of the following gun-related bills: H.B. 194 – Assault weapons ban. H.B. 832 – Mandatory reporting of lost or stolen firearms. H.B. 2112 – Ban on high-capacity ammunition magazines. H.B. 2109 – Read more


Vitali calls for action on gun bills during Delaware County rally

(Apr 05, 2018)

MEDIA, April 5 – State Rep. Greg Vitali joined lawmakers and organizers from Delaware County United for Sensible Gun Policy at the county courthouse steps today to call for the advancement of H.B. 1400, for universal background checks on gun sales in Pennsylvania, and H.B. 1872, a statewide ban on multiburst trigger activators, including bump stocks. Vitali, D-Delaware/Montgomery, is a cosponsor of both bills and said he hopes that the legislation will receive prompt votes following a set of public hearings on gun bills slated for next week in Harrisburg. “The issue of gun violence prevention has hit its tipping point, and it’s time these commonsense bills become law,” he said. “Expanded background checks for gun shows and private sales are widely supported by Pennsylvanians. A ban on devices designed to turn rifles into illegal machine guns is also supported by most Americans, especially since one was used in the Las Vegas shooting in October, our nation’s most deadly mass shooting. “The reaction to the most recent mass shooting in Parkland has shed much-needed light on the dark affairs that suppress the passage of sensible gun safety laws, and we lawmakers are here to pressure leaders in the Capitol so we can vote in the interests of our constituents.” The public hearings, called for by the House Judiciary Committee, will take place Monday through Thursday. Vitali also is a cosponsor of the following Read more


Pa. to lose nearly $442 million this year without severance tax

(Apr 04, 2018)

HARRISBURG, April 4 – Pennsylvania will lose about $442 million in revenue this year by forgoing a severance tax on natural gas harvested in the commonwealth, state Rep. Greg Vitali said today. The figures are according to House Democratic Appropriations Committee estimates assuming a 6.5 percent tax, as proposed by Gov. Tom Wolf, with existing impact fees subtracted. Those figures, coupled with data from the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center, indicate that the commonwealth has lost over $1.68 billion in revenue since 2011 due to the lack of a severance tax, Vitali said. Vitali updated his Marcellus Money and the Pennsylvania Legislature report with the new findings. The report also found that the drilling industry spent about $5.2 million in lobbying last year and $67 million between 2007 and 2017. “With this kind of money being spent on the Pennsylvania legislature, it’s not surprising that Pennsylvania is still the only major gas-producing state without a severance tax,” said Vitali, D-Delaware/Montgomery. Another finding shows there are 203 lobbyists registered as working for the natural-gas industry in Pennsylvania – equal the number of state House lawmakers. “Other consequences of the undue influence of the gas drilling industry on the legislature include the blocking of conventional drilling regulations, the delay of Governor Tom Wolf’s methane reduction strategy and the blocking of a Read more


Report: Gas drilling industry spent $5.2M lobbying Pa. legislature in 2017

(Mar 23, 2018)

HAVERFORD, March 23 – The natural gas industry spent $5.2 million last year in lobbying expenses in Pennsylvania to influence the General Assembly, said state Rep. Greg Vitali, D-Delaware/Montgomery. Vitali’s report, Marcellus Money and the Pennsylvania Legislature , was first published in the first quarter of 2017. The public report draws from campaign reports, lobbying reports and ethics statements relating to natural gas drilling in Pennsylvania. The report shows that the industry has now spent $67 million on lobbying activities in Pennsylvania since 2007. “With this kind of money being spent on the Pennsylvania legislature, it’s not surprising that Pennsylvania is still the only major gas-producing state without a severance tax,” Vitali said. Another finding shows that there are 203 lobbyists registered as working for the natural-gas industry in Pennsylvania – equal the number of state House lawmakers. “Other consequences of the undue influence of the gas drilling industry on the legislature include the blocking of conventional drilling regulations, the delay of Governor Tom Wolf’s methane reduction strategy and the blocking of a royalty-protection bill for Pennsylvania landowners,” Vitali said. The report also indicates that the gas drilling industry made almost $8 million in campaign contributions to the legislature between 2007 and 2017. “Until Pennsylvania’s campaign finance Read more


March 2018 Newsletter

(Feb 23, 2018)

March 2018 Newsletter Read more


Vitali: Solar tariff bad in many ways

(Jan 26, 2018)

This letter to the editor on President Donald Trump's solar panel tariff was published in the Philadelphia Inquirer on Jan. 26, 2018. President Trump’s solar tariff is bad for the environment and bad for the economy. Climate change is the greatest long-term threat to the world. This tariff is another in a long list of actions he has taken to make this problem worse. The tariff, announced Monday, will apply to all imported solar equipment for a four-year period. It is predicted that the tariff will increase solar installation costs by about 6 percent to 9 percent and reduce U.S. solar installations by 11 percent over the next five years. This is expected to translate into 23,000 lost solar jobs. To make matters worse, the tariff is being imposed at the same time the federal investment tax credit – an important incentive for solar investment – is being phased down. Read more


Vitali supports Delaware River Basin Commission move to ban fracking

(Jan 25, 2018)

PHILADELPHIA, Jan. 25 – The Delaware River Basin Commission is working to establish regulations banning fracking in the basin, a move supported by state Rep. Greg Vitali, who testified today at a public hearing on such rules. “I support a complete and permanent ban on fracking in the Delaware River Basin. This position is consistent with the overwhelming majority of constituents I represent and is supported by Pennsylvania’s Environmental Rights Amendment to our state constitution,” said Vitali, D-Delaware/Montgomery. “It states in part that Pennsylvania's public natural resources are the ‘common property of all the people, including generations yet to come.’ “To date, about 11,000 unconventional wells have been drilled in Pennsylvania, but there should be places where fracking does not occur, and the Delaware River basin is one of them. The watershed supplies drinking water to 15 million people, and the Delaware River has been designated as a National Wild and Scenic River and enjoys special protections. “Fracking turns pristine forests into industrial sites with truck traffic, gravel roads, fences and spills. The river basin should not be degraded by drilling, and I applaud DRBC’s efforts in protecting it.” DRBC has held hearings on draft amendments to its regulations and comprehensive plan to better provide for the planning, conservation, utilization, development, management and control of Read more


Trump is targeting environmental protection

(Jan 19, 2018)

Elections have consequences, and the election of Donald Trump is resulting in great damage to our environment. The following is a summary of Trump’s anti-environmental actions in the past year. They must not be forgotten. On Feb. 17, Trump’s nominee for administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Scott Pruitt, was confirmed by the Senate. Pruitt is a climate change skeptic with close ties to the fossil fuel industry. On Feb. 28, Trump signed an executive order to abolish the Waters of the United States rule. This rule gives the EPA broad authority over regulating the pollution of wetlands and tributaries that run into the nation’s largest rivers. Its repeal would make it easier to pollute our waters. On March 16, Trump announced his Fiscal Year 2018 budget proposal. It would cut EPA funding by about 30 percent and eliminate a quarter of the agency’s employees. Also on March 16, the Trump administration began the process of rolling back Corporate Average Fuel Economy fuel efficiency standards for cars and light trucks. These standards have become an important tool in addressing climate change. On March 24, the Trump administration approved the Keystone XL pipeline which will transport crude oil from Canada to refineries on the Gulf coast. This pipeline this will encourage the development of Canada’s oil sands and exacerbate climate change. On March 28, Trump signed an executive order Read more


December 2017 Newsletter

(Dec 05, 2017)

View my Winter 2017 Newsletter here. Read more


Vitali: Natural gas industry spent $3.7M on lobbying Pa. legislature this year

(Nov 20, 2017)

HARRISBURG, Nov. 20 – An updated report posted today shows the natural gas industry has spent over $3.7 million lobbying the Pennsylvania legislature through the first three quarters of this year, said state Rep. Greg Vitali, D-Delaware/Montgomery. According to Marcellus Money and the Pennsylvania Legislature , which was first released by Vitali in February, the industry has spent $65 million on lobbying activities in Pennsylvania since 2007. The data also show that natural gas interests have given the Pennsylvania General Assembly over $7.7 million in campaign contributions since 2007. Senate President Joseph Scarnati, R-Jefferson, was the highest recipient collecting $483,500 over the past 10 years. “In light of all of this money directed at the Pennsylvania legislature, it’s no surprise that that Pennsylvania is the only major gas-producing state without a severance tax,” Vitali said. “It’s also no surprise that current discussion regarding a severance tax includes provisions that would severely hamper the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection’s ability to regulate the gas drilling industry.” According to Vitali, these provisions include delegating the issuance of environmental permits to third parties, requiring permits be deemed approved after a certain number of days have passed – even if they have not met legal requirements – and, in effect, blocking part of the Wolf Read more


Severance Tax Not Worth the Price

(Nov 06, 2017)

As a longtime supporter of the severance tax, I find myself in the unusual position of now opposing it. Although it would provide much-needed revenue for the commonwealth, it is clear that Senate Republicans will not allow even a modest severance tax without exacting provisions that would significantly compromise the state Department of Environmental Protection’s ability to regulate the natural gas industry. Pennsylvania is the only major gas-producing state without a severance tax. It has been fiercely opposed by the drillers since it was first proposed by Gov. Edward Rendell in 2010. Since then, drillers and their representatives have spent $46.6 million on lobbying and $14.5 million on strategic campaign contributions to legislative leaders and key committee chairs, according to the Inquirer. But despite the gas industry’s opposition, the commonwealth’s dire financial situation has sparked serious discussion about a severance tax to help fund the budget. In July, the state Senate passed a tax-code bill that contained a severance tax of less than 1 percent. But the bill also included three provisions that would make it much more difficult for the DEP to regulate the natural gas industry. The first provision would provide that any unconventional oil and gas permit application the DEP does not process fast enough would be “deemed approved” regardless of whether it meets legal standards for approval. Arbitrarily forcing the DEP to Read more


Viewpoints: Gas-tax supporter now against it because of tradeoffs on health, environment

(Oct 24, 2017)

State Rep. Greg Vitali writes for the Philadelphia Inquirer that proposed environmental trade-offs placed him in an unusual position against a severance tax. Read more