As new policies to combat climate change are on their way to the House floor, representatives from Pennsylvania urge their colleagues to reconsider vital pieces of the proposed laws. Both the Clean Future Act and the Ban Fracking Act take aim at environmentally harmful emissions, among numerous other issues, but have also sparked criticism, particularly from Mount Lebanon’s Conor Lamb.
The Clean Future Act builds off of the Green New Deal, proposed by Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in early 2019, but aims to be more practical than the GND. Under the CFA, a 622-page bill, eight governing sections would be created, each with their own specific guidelines and mandates. Among other things, it promotes the phasing out of unclean electrical energy sources and mandates the use of clean energy within certain timetables. For example, if the bill were enacted, retailers would be required to use 100 percent clean electrical energy by 2050, and the industrial sector would be required to focus on their carbon capture efforts. According to the draft of the bill, clean energy sources are defined primarily such as “wind, solar, nuclear, hydropower and geothermal energy”. Additionally, in its pipeline permitting process, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission would have to consider a pipeline’s role in climate change. The full bill can be found here.
A second bill, proposed by Representative Ocasio-Cortez along with Representative Darren Soto of Florida, sets out to ban all hydraulic fracturing across the country. According to the bill, fracking within 2,500 feet of a school or residency would be outlawed by 2021, while all fracking would be banned by 2025. While such proposals are both praised and contested by both major parties, PA representative Conor Lamb has been outspoken in his criticism of the Ban Fracking Act. In a letter to Speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi, Lamb stated that Pennsylvanians feel “betrayed” by legislators in Washington, who have forgotten the industry’s economic role in the state. In lieu of such legislation, Rep. Lamb has touted a different bill, the Fossil Energy Research and Development Act of 2019, a bipartisan bill to fund fossil fuel research at one of the National Energy Technology Laboratories.
The 2020 presidential election could prove to be a pivotal moment for the nation, and Pennsylvania's natural gas industry.