Election 2014: Wolf Responses to AF Survey

  • Tom Wolf is one of four remaining candidates in Pennsylvania's Democratic primary race for governor. Photo: Tom Wolf Campaign

May 9, 2014

Democratic voters in Pennsylvania head to the polls May 20 to choose a candidate for governor. The winner will face incumbent Republican Tom Corbett in the general election. The Allegheny Front sent a survey on environment and energy issues to the four Democratic contenders.  Thanks to all who contributed questions and ideas via Facebook and Twitter. Here’s a look at candidate Tom Wolf’s responses.

What is your view of a severance tax on shale gas extraction? How high should it be?

I will take a responsible approach to natural gas development that includes enacting a 5 percent extraction tax so that we make gas companies pay their fair share and have the resources to fund schools and other key priorities. If done right, natural gas development can be a bridge to a clean energy future and create good-paying energy jobs.

What other taxes, fees or regulations (if any) would you impose on the natural gas industry?

As governor, I will protect our environment and hold drillers accountable by enacting practical regulatory actions, and increasing funding for the Department of Environmental Protection so that it is sufficiently staffed and able to provide proper oversight of drillers. I will work to bring greater transparency to the fracking process by requiring drillers to publicly disclose chemicals used in the hydraulic fracturing process (similar to Senator Casey’s federal proposal), and lifting the current gag order on physicians. Additionally, I will support an increase in the annual permit application fee as well as an increase in the fee for drilling on state lands.

 

 

What's your stand on drilling in state forests?

I support a drilling moratorium on public lands and the Delaware Valley River Basin, and I believe local communities should have the power to say when and where drilling takes place.

A. What would you do if a company that controlled the mineral rights under Ohiopyle State park wanted to drill there?

B. Some say the state controls mineral rights in Loyalsock State Forest Clarence Moore tracts—what is your stand on drilling there? 

A. As governor, I will explore the feasibility of using revenue in the Oil and Gas Fund to purchase the mineral rights from the company. To protect our state land, I will support a special impact fee for drilling on state park land and additional pre-drilling requirements, strengthen the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources’ guidelines for administering oil and gas activities on state lands, and negotiate a “Surface Use Agreement” that minimizes impact and protects our natural spaces.

B. I will support the Commonwealth’s right to block drilling on those tracts of the Clarence Moore lands in which the courts have ruled that the State has exclusive surface control.

Would you raise the Alternative Energy Portfolio Standards beyond the current number of 8 percent clean energy by 2021? Why or Why not? If yes, at what level would you set it?

Yes, I will work to make Pennsylvania a national leader in the development of clean energy sources. Within my first year in office, I will introduce legislation expanding Pennsylvania's Alternative Energy Portfolio Standards. Additionally, I will ensure that only clean, renewable energy sources are included on the Tier 1 list.

Pennsylvania is one of the top greenhouse gas emitters in the world. What is the state's responsibility to lower its emissions? How would you lead the state to lower emissions(if at all)?

I know we need to remove the politics from the discussion about climate change and global warming. We need to take action so that future generations have access to fresh air and clean water, and have the opportunity to explore and enjoy Pennsylvania's natural beauty.

As governor, I will promote policies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, promote clean energy alternatives, and invest in green energy technology and infrastructure. Additionally, I will appoint qualified individuals to lead the Department of Environmental Protection and the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources who will be responsible for proactively addressing climate change and promoting policies that are in the best interest of current and future residents—not special interests. This includes issuing a Climate Change Action plan that is produced on time, is based on science, and includes meaningful emission reduction targets and policies to help meet these goals.

What's your stand on nuclear energy? Would you like to see its use increased in PA?

I believe we should be focusing on developing a clean energy future. I have concerns about nuclear energy waste and the lack of a long-term plan to handle it.

There are two bills in the PA legislature to change the way the state lists endangered species, giving review power to a political commission, which has been criticized for its lack of scientists, and for making it more difficult for a species to be listed. Do you support these changes? Why or Why not? If no, what would you do with PA's endangered species act?

No, I do not support these changes. These bills are just additional examples of how leadership in Harrisburg is more concerned with appeasing special interests and influential campaign donors than doing what’s best for Pennsylvania residents. Not only is this legislation unwarranted, but it also puts the state at risk of losing millions of federal conservation grant dollars. Any changes made to the endangered species act should be driven by science and be in the best interest on Pennsylvania residents and not energy companies.

What's your favorite natural space in PA?

My favorite natural space is along the Lower Susquehanna River between the Safe Harbor Dam and the Holtwood Dam.

 

The Allegheny Front requested interviews with each of the candidates.  Katie McGinty and Rob McCord visited our studios in Pittsburgh, and each interview is attached to the survey story.

Tom Wolf and Allyson Schwartz spoke with our colleagues at StateImpact Pennsylvania. The video links to these interviews are displayed within their survey responses..