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Adam Garber,
PennEnvironment

PA Environmental Groups Release Marcellus Scorecard for State Legislators

Scorecard grades General Assembly members on recent gas drilling votes
For immediate Release

(Harrisburg) – Four of Pennsylvania’s largest citizen-based environmental organizations released their joint “Pennsylvania Marcellus Shale Scorecard” today (online version here), giving each state senator and representative an environmental grade based on their votes related to Act 13, the omnibus Marcellus Shale legislation signed into law by Gov. Tom Corbett on February 14.

Between November, 2011 and February, 2012, the Pennsylvania state legislature held a series of votes on HB 1950 (Act 13), a bill that overturned local ordinances on gas drilling, establishes one of the nation’s lowest gas extraction fees, and makes only minimal improvements to environmental and public health protections from oil and gas drilling. Passage of Act 13 is the first significant legislation enacted in Pennsylvania since the Marcellus Shale gas drilling boom began over four years ago. The Marcellus Scorecard provides Pennsylvania’s residents with information on how their legislators voted on this law which will have far reaching impacts on all Pennsylvanians. The Scorecard covers final passage votes as well as votes on floor amendments to the bill.

“When voters head to the polls this year, they should know how their legislators handled the Marcellus Shale, the biggest environmental issue facing Pennsylvania. Combined, we expect our organizations will distribute this scorecard to more than a quarter million Pennsylvania citizens and give every voter online access to this data,” stated Josh McNeil of Conservation Voters of PA.

“We are glad to see that we have some environmental heroes in the state legislature who stood up to protect our water, our air, and our neighborhoods from gas drilling. Unfortunately, far too many legislators earned failing grades in this Scorecard,” stated Jeff Schmidt, Director for the Sierra Club Pennsylvania Chapter.

42 State Representatives and 14 State Senators earned perfect 100% scores, including:

  • Senate Minority Leader Senator Jay Costa (D-Allegheny)
  • Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee Minority Chair Senator John Yudichak (D-Luzerne)
  • Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee members Senator Daylin Leach (D-Montgomery) and Senator Andrew Dinniman (D-Chester)
  • House Environmental Resources and Energy Committee members Rep. Scott Conklin (D-Centre), Rep. Greg Vitali (D-Delaware), Rep. Steve Santarsiero (D-Bucks), Rep. Eugene DePasquale (D-York), Rep. Bryan Barbin (D-Cambria)
  • Minority Caucus Chair Rep. Dan Frankel (D-Allegheny)

Legislators scoring below 50% include:

  • Senators Charles McIlhinney (R-Bucks), Stewart Greenleaf (R-Montgomery), Richard Alloway (R-Franklin), Edwin Erickson (R-Delaware), and Bob Mensch (R-Montgomery), each of whom signed a letter to the Governor opposing HB 1950 and vowing to protect municipal rights only days before voting in favor of the bill.
  • Senator John Wozniak (D-Cambria), Senator Tim Solobay (D-Washington), and Rep. Peter Daley (D-Washington), who represented the lowest scores among Democrats
  • House Environmental Resources and Energy Committee members Rick Saccone (R-Allegheny), Randy Vulakovich (R-Allegheny), and Martin Causer (R-McKean)
  • House Environmental Resources and Energy Committee Majority Chair Rep. Scott Hutchinson (R-Venango)
  • House Speaker Rep. Sam Smith (R-Punxsutawney)
  • Majority Leader Rep. Mike Turzai (R-Allegheny)

“It should have raised red flags for the Pennsylvania legislature when they voted for a bill supported by the industry that had a financially vested interest in the outcome, yet was opposed by environmental, public health and sportsmen’s groups, and local government officials from both parties and every corner of the Commonwealth,” stated David Masur, Director for PennEnvironment.

“It’s disappointing to see that protecting the public and the environment no longer gets bi-partisan support. While there are members of both parties that had low scores, there were no Republican members who earned a passing grade. One of the main reasons that Act 13 passed was that Republican members who used to support environmental protections chose to side with Governor Corbett and the gas industry,” stated Myron Arnowitt, PA State Director for Clean Water Action.

Democratic members of the state legislature earned scores ranging from 0% to 100%. Democrats earning a failing score under 63% included: Sen. Wozniak (Cambria), Sen. Solobay (Washington), Sen. Brewster (Allegheny), Rep. Daley (Washington), Rep. Gergley (Allegheny), Rep. Gibbons (Beaver), Rep. Mullery (Luzerne), Rep. Wheatley (Allegheny).

However, the highest Republican score was only 54%. This is in stark contrast to Scorecards put out in past years by these environmental groups where numerous Republican legislators earned scores of 90-100%.