Election 2014: McGinty Responses to AF Survey

  • Katie McGinty supports the continued moratorium on all drilling activity in state forests and parks. Photo: Katie McGinty Campaign

May 9, 2014

The Allegheny Front sent a survey on environment and energy issues to the four Democratic contenders for Pennsylvania governor, and Katie McGinty responded.  McGinty is an operating partner with Element Partners, an equity firm in the energy, industrial, and environmental markets. She is former secretary of the PA Department of Environmental Protection. McGinty lives in Wayne, Chester County.

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

Natural gas companies need to start paying their fair share. Pennsylvania has one of the lowest effective tax rates on shale in the nation and that is wrong. The people of Pennsylvania deserve to be fairly compensated for the extraction of their natural resources.

I propose a severance tax that is similar in amount to what West Virginia has in place and would dedicate 100 percent of the revenues to education. It would be two-tiered with a 4.5 percent tax on the wellhead price of gas and a $0.02 per 1,000 cubic feet production tax. This severance tax would put Pennsylvania in the mid-range of the gas producing states. Within a decade, this proposal could generate as much as $1.8 billion annually in additional state funding for basic education.

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

As Governor, I would keep a fair impact fee to cover providing funding to local communities for infrastructure and other costs associated with shale development in their communities.

I would increase permit fees on the industry in order to provide additional funding for enforcement through the Department of Environmental Protection and to put the environmental cop back on the beat to protect our air and water.

The Supreme Court decision to strike down the provision taking away zoning from municipalities was the right decision. That is why I would oppose any legislation aimed at taking away the right of municipalities to enact reasonable zoning regulations.

I also believe that it is very important to lift the gag rule that Act 13 imposed on health care providers. If there is a health issue related to gas drilling, health care providers, and state, local and federal public health officials should have the ability to respond, and indeed, have a duty to respond.

What's your stand on drilling in state forests?

Our state forests and state parks are precious resources for the people of Pennsylvania to enjoy and we should never allow industrial activities to potentially spoil the pristine land that we own.

As Governor, I would support the continued moratorium on all drilling activity in our state forests and parks.

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? 

As Governor, I would use every tool at my disposal to prevent natural gas drilling in Ohiopyle State Park or any other state park across Pennsylvania. One option would be to have the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) use drilling revenues in the Oil & Gas Lease Fund to purchase mineral rights at Ohiopyle as it did at Cherry Springs State Park in Potter County in 2007.

I would do the same in Loyalsock State Forest or any state forest where a similar situation arises.

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?

As DEP Secretary, I led the fight for Pennsylvania to become the first industrial and coal producing state to adopt these type of standards. I am committed to increasing the standard because it’s good for the environment and will lead to more new jobs. It would be my goal to double the standard by 2021, and work toward 20% of our electricity coming from renewable resources.

When I served in the Rendell Administration we were a leader in clean energy jobs and demonstrated that you can protect the environment while creating jobs. In fact, I spent my entire career disproving the myth that you have to choose between protecting the environment and creating jobs.

A McGinty Administration will lead on energy efficiency. As Secretary, I developed policies that led to Act 129, an initiative that has created jobs while cutting electricity bills by hundreds of millions of dollars. I’ll promote microgrids and other efficiency measures to reduced costs and protect the environment.

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)?

Taking on the issue of climate change presents a great opportunity to grow our economy in a clean and efficient way. In a McGinty Administration, Pennsylvania would be a leader in building a sustainable economy and we would significantly cut greenhouse gas and other pollution by putting people to work on renewable energy and energy efficiency, by green buildings and mass transit. And, I'd make it a priority that Pennsylvania become the home to as many companies making the products and equipment and offering the services that will solve the climate challenge and create good jobs.

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

I think that nuclear energy should be a part of the mix in our overall energy portfolio. As to increased nuclear energy, the costs seem prohibitive. The market will not invest in expensive nuclear, especially when so many other, lower cost alternatives are available.

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?

I oppose these efforts to change the way that we list endangered species. It is critical that we rely on science when making such decisions and the omission of scientists from the process is unacceptable.

I think the current act is doing the job it is intended to do. As governor, I will oppose any effort to weaken it and would be willing to listen to ideas to make it as effective as possible.

What's your favorite natural space in PA?

As a person born and raised in Pennsylvania and a person privileged to work to protect our environment, I cherish our many and diverse natural places. I love the waterfalls of Ricketts Glen and our own Grand Canyon of Pine Creek Gorge, but two very different spaces hold a special place in my heart. The first is Presque Isle State Park in Erie where my team at DEP worked hard to get the resources and support needed to restore the beaches and lakeshore and enable families to enjoy it fully once more. The second is little Pennypack Park in Northeast Philadelphia where, growing up, I spent as much free time as I could splashing around in the creek and exploring the trails with my friends and family.


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.