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Legislators urge approval of drilling regulations

(Mar 31, 2016)

HARRISBURG, March 31 – A group of nearly 20 state House members led by state Rep. Greg Vitali, D-Delaware/Montgomery, today sent a letter to the Independent Regulatory Review Commission urging approval of regulations that would make gas drilling safer in Pennsylvania. IRRC, the agency created to review commonwealth agency regulations to ensure they are in the public interest, is scheduled to consider the regulations at its April 21 hearing. Vitali, Democratic chairman of the House Environmental Resources and Energy Committee, said the regulations would enhance public resource protections, including those for state parks and forests, playgrounds, schools and public water supplies; provide for pre-drilling review of potential abandoned and operating wells; require water supply restoration standards for operators who degrade a water supply; and enhanced spill reporting and clean-up requirements. The Performance Standards at Oil and Gas Well Sites regulations were promulgated in accordance with Act 13 of 2012, and have not been updated since 2001, so modernizing them is critical to ensure protection of Pennsylvania’s environment, the group’s letter states. The drilling industry opposes the regulations and on March 24, the Pennsylvania Independent Petroleum Producers Association filed a suit in Commonwealth Court challenging them. The House and Senate can stop the regulations by passing a concurrent resolution disapproving them, which must be signed by Read more

 

Final IRRC Letter

(Mar 31, 2016)

IRRC Letter Read more

 

House committee questions need to incentivize natural gas

(Mar 21, 2016)

HARRISBURG, March 21 – The House Democratic Policy Committee conducted a public hearing today to question if Pennsylvania should continue to incentivize natural gas. State Rep. Greg Vitali, D-Delaware, who organized the meeting, said Pennsylvania currently incentivizes the production and use of natural gas through tax credits, grants and loans. “There is currently disagreement among those who want to combat climate change as to the role natural gas should play, and whether incentives for its production and demand are necessary,” Vitali said. Vitali also noted that every session, legislation is introduced to provide even more incentives for the natural gas industry. His goal for this hearing was to examine whether these incentives make sense for climate change and the health of Pennsylvania residents. Rob Altenburg, director of the PennFuture Energy Center, said that last year his organization released a report identifying over $3.2 billion in fossil fuel subsidies provided by Pennsylvania during fiscal year 2012-13. He questioned whether the industry requires all of these incentives. “As time and technology changes, subsidies that were once justified may no longer make sense,” Altenburg said. “Regular consideration of existing subsidies is needed to ensure we are spending money wisely and working towards our goals.” Mark Szybist, senior program advocate, energy and transportation, Natural Resources Defense Council, Read more

 

House committee to examine if state should incentivize natural gas

(Mar 16, 2016)

HARRISBURG, March 16 – The House Democratic Policy Committee will conduct a public hearing at 10 a.m. Monday, March 21 in Harrisburg to discuss if Pennsylvania should incentivize natural gas. The issue will be examined from a climate change, economic, and health perspective. The hearing, organized by state Rep. Greg Vitali, will take place in the Minority Caucus Room, 418 Main Capitol. It will be led by Vitali, the Democratic chairman of the House Environmental Resources and Energy Committee, and Policy Committee Chairman Michael Sturla. Confirmed speakers include: Rob Altenburg, director, PennFuture Energy Center Michael Griffin, associated research professor, Engineering and Public Policy, Carnegie Mellon University (also executive director, Center for Climate and Energy Decision Making) Mark Szybist, senior program advocate, energy and transportation, Natural Resources Defense Council Don Brown, scholar in residence, Widener University Commonwealth Law School Robert Howarth, the David R. Atkinson Professor of Ecology and Environmental Biology, Cornell University Dave Althoff Jr., manager, Office of Pollution Prevention and Energy Assistance, state Department of Environmental Protection Denise Brinley, special assistant to the secretary, Strategic Industry Initiatives, state Department of Community and Economic Development Tom Peterson, president and CEO, Center for Climate Strategies The hearing will be streamed live at www.pahouse.com/live Read more

 

PA Power Switch: Ask the right questions

(Dec 30, 2015)

In Pennsylvania, you can choose the company that generates your electricity – also known as your electric supplier. This means that you have the power to switch to a competing supplier who can offer the lowest price, or provide a specific service you want, such as “green” or renewable energy. Read more

 

Vitali: Budget bill would delay Pa. climate plan

(Dec 14, 2015)

HARRISBURG, Dec. 14 – State Rep. Greg Vitali, D-Delaware/Montgomery, said while the landmark climate change agreement approved Saturday in Paris underscores the urgency of the world to act on climate change, legislation moving through the General Assembly would do just the opposite. Vitali said the Fiscal Code bill (H.B. 1327), which is part of the overall budget agreement, would further delay state implementation of the federal clean power plan, which is designed to reduce greenhouse gas emission from coal- and gas-fired power plants. "The EPA passed its regulations in August and it is now dependent on the states to develop their state-specific plans to reduce emissions," said Vitali, the Democratic chairman of the House Environmental Resources and Energy Committee. "Pennsylvania planned to release its plan next September but this bill is part of a continuing strategy of delay by the coal industry." Additionally, the bill would take $12 million from Alternative Energy Investment Act, which is earmarked for renewable energy and energy-efficient buildings and it uses it to promote natural gas infrastructure development, Vitali said. "The Alternative Energy Investment Act is dedicated to promoting technologies like solar energy, wind energy and geothermal," Vitali said. "Natural gas is a fossil fuel, and our state needs to start moving away from all fossil fuels and focus on renewable energy. "This legislation also is Read more

 

GOP budget underfunds environmental protection

(Jun 27, 2015)

HARRISBURG, June 27 – The Republican-crafted budget poised to pass the state House significantly underfunds environmental protection, state Rep. Greg Vitali said. The budget does not fund Gov. Tom Wolf’s proposed energy investment initiative, which would provide more than $140 million for renewable energy and conservation programs. Those programs would create good-paying jobs, save money and help the environment. “This budget continues to ignore Pennsylvania’s ethical responsibilities to address climate change,” said Vitali, the Democratic chairman of the House Environmental Resources and Energy Committee. In addition, the GOP budget cuts funding for the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection from $147 million proposed by the governor to $143.5 million. Vitali said the budget continues the chronic underfunding of DEP, which had received $200 million in the 2006-07 fiscal year. DEP staffing has been reduced by about 10 percent since 2006. Vitali said the budget also continues to use the Oil and Gas Lease Fund as a “cash cow” to balance the budget, diverting $67 million from the fund to help pay the day-to-day operations of the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. This is an addition to the $50 million automatically transferred to DCNR from this fund. The Oil and Gas Lease Fund was established to provide money for conservation, recreation, dams and flood control projects. Revenue for this fund Read more

 

Wolf energy plan would create jobs, save taxpayer money and help the environment

(Jun 01, 2015)

The energy investment plan contained in Gov. Tom Wolf’s budget proposal would create good, green jobs, save schools and municipalities money through reduced electric costs and help the environment. Those conclusions came from a panel that included representatives of energy companies, a suburban Philadelphia school official, farmers and a high-ranking member of the Wolf administration. They testified before the House Democratic Policy Committee during a hearing Monday in the state Capitol. Read more

 

Wolf budget would improve environmental protection

(Mar 05, 2015)

HARRISBURG, March 5 – State Rep. Greg Vitali commended Gov. Tom Wolf on proposing a budget for the 2015-16 fiscal year that would increase environmental protection and invest in renewable energy and conservation. “Considering the difficult fiscal challenges the Commonwealth faces, Pennsylvania’s environment fares very well in this budget,” said Vitali, the Democratic chairman of the House Environmental Resources and Energy Committee. The proposed budget increases state funding to the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection by 5.6 percent to $147 million. The Department received about $200 million in state funding in fiscal year 2007-08 and has been cut most years since then. The budget also would provide an additional 50 oil and gas inspectors to DEP, with funding coming from a severance tax proposed by the governor, according to Vitali. Wolf’s budget increases funding for the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources by 10 percent, from $137 million to $151 million. Unfortunately, Vitali said, $117 million of this amount would come from the Oil and Gas Lease Fund, which receives its revenues from gas drilling on public land. The other $34 million would come from the General Fund. “Funding so much of DCNR with Oil and Gas Lease Fund money is a big problem because this money should be used for conservation purposes only,” Vitali said. Wind, solar and energy efficiency Read more

 

Pa. must cut greenhouse gasses, experts tell House panel

(Mar 02, 2015)

HARRISBURG, March 2 – Pennsylvania, which produces almost 1 percent of the world’s greenhouse gases, must use more renewable energy, become more energy efficient and reduce methane emissions to help address climate change, a panel of experts testified Monday. Read more

 

Legislation introduced to reduce Pennsylvania's greenhouse gas emissions

(Feb 19, 2015)

HARRISBURG, Feb. 19 – State Rep. Greg Vitali unveiled legislation designed to encourage Pennsylvania to reduce greenhouse gas emissions during a news conference today in the Capitol. He was joined by representatives of environmental organizations, a professor and a legislator who voiced support for the legislation. "Pennsylvania has a duty to work toward carbon neutrality because it produces almost 1 percent of the world’s greenhouse gases," said Vitali, the Democratic chairman of the House Environmental Resources and Energy Committee. "The legislature and Gov. Tom Wolf must find ways to reduce the use of fossil fuels and shift to renewable energy." To work toward that goal, Vitali has introduced three bills that would increase the Alternative Energy Portfolio Standard, permanently fund the Sunshine Solar program and reduce the demand for energy. "Too much of our energy comes from dirty sources that harm the environment and our communities -- but it doesn't have to be that way," said Elowyn Corby, PennEnvironment’s global warming and clean energy associate. "We can harness abundant and pollution-free energy from the wind and the sun. Legislation like this shows how Harrisburg can help us get to the clean energy future Pennsylvanians deserve." Joanne Kilgour, director of the Sierra Club Pennsylvania Chapter, said increasing the Alternative Energy Portfolio Standard to require Read more

 

Vitali: Pennsylvania must work toward carbon neutrality

(Jan 26, 2015)

The world must become carbon neutral by mid to late century to avoid the worst impacts of climate change, according to a United Nations report released in November. And with Pennsylvania producing almost 1 percent of the world’s greenhouse gases, it has a duty to work toward carbon neutrality. Rather than increasing the production of natural gas, Gov. Tom Wolf and the new legislature must work toward reducing all fossil-fuel use and shift to renewable energy. Over three-quarters of the energy consumed in Pennsylvania comes from fossil fuels — coal, natural gas, and oil — while only about 4 percent comes from renewable sources like wind and solar, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. In recent years Pennsylvania has created a friendly environment for natural-gas production while doing little to increase renewables. It has foregone the imposition of a severance tax on the natural-gas industry, extended the largest tax break in state history to natural-gas cracker plants, and provided millions in grant money for the conversion of fleet vehicles to natural gas. While natural gas has the environmental benefit of displacing dirty, carbon-dioxide-emitting coal- fired power plants, it also has significant climate change drawbacks: The combustion of natural gas also emits significant quantities of carbon dioxide. Additionally, the main component of natural gas is methane, another potent greenhouse gas. Fugitive methane emissions pose a Read more

 

Vitali reappointed Democratic chairman of House Environmental Resources and Energy Committee

(Jan 05, 2015)

HARRISBURG, Jan. 5 – State Rep. Greg Vitali, D-Delaware, was reappointed by Democratic Leader Frank Dermody, D-Allegheny, to serve as Democratic chairman of the House Environmental Resources and Energy Committee for the 2015-16 legislative session. Vitali served as Democratic chairman of the committee during the 2013-14 legislative session.In addition to advancing energy and environmental legislation, the committee oversees the state departments of Environmental Protection and Conservation and Natural Resources.“This appointment puts me in a position to be a strong voice for good environmental policy,” Vitali said. "I thank Democratic leadership for their trust and I look forward to working on environmental initiatives.”Vitali plans to introduce five bills to help protect the environment. The bills would:Require electric distribution companies, such as PECO and PPL, to buy more of their power from wind, solar and other clean energy sources.Require rents and royalties from oil and gas leases on commonwealth-owned land to be used exclusively for conservation, recreation, dams or flood control projects.Provide $25 million per year to the now-defunct PA Sunshine Solar Program. The solar program has provided rebates to homeowners and small businesses that install solar systems.Impose a moratorium on additional leasing of state lands for natural gas drilling, exploration or production.Encourage electric and natural gas distribution utilities to implement energy efficiency and Read more