While too many of us are focused on the latest Trumpian tweets, there is at least one Election Day contest worthy of note right here at home. There are several of them, actually, but our gubernatorial contest is a good example of the choices we face as we move toward handing the Commonwealth to our grandkids.
Of the two candidates vying to be the our next governor, one is campaigning to get rid of expensive “over regulation” – the kind of regulation that reportedly has earned his trash hauling company more than two dozen environmental violations.
Every game needs rules.
Consider that a chemical company in Houston, Texas had truck trailers loaded with hazardous stuff when Hurricane Harvey made it’s assault. Instead of moving the stuff out of town, the company warned local authorities the chemicals were hazardous and likely to be unkind to humans.
Sure enough, when the waters rose, the chemicals proved their malicious characteristics. The company, through its attorney, now says the government was at fault for not requiring the company to move out of the way of the water. That’s like a teenager putting his hand on a hot stove, then complaining because Mom did not tell him the burn would be painful.
We Pennsylvanians have experienced that line of thought with natural gas production in the commonwealth. Drillers seeking to suck natural gas from beneath our feet want uniform regulations so they are not hampered by “inconsistent” laws. That is the standard complaint when they know the rules, but just don’t like them. The legislature willingly gave them a law prohibiting municipalities, or even counties, from regulating fracking – drilling for natural gas – within their borders. The state supreme court said, constitutionally-measured, that was an article too far.
Having failed at the state level to obtain legislated permission to construct pipelines across private land, they moved to the feds for the authority – and got it – the better to transport their product to export terminals on the Delaware River and Chesapeake Bay.
These are the same companies who said, back in 2011-12, that the beauty of drilling for natural gas in Pennsylvania was the proximity to East Coast markets — moms and pops and other businesses and residents who need the gas to be warm in winter.
The bad news is the companies now want to ship to Europe and Japan. The good news is winters in the U.S. Northeast seem to be getting warmer, if not windier and wetter.
If the companies are allowed to leak enough methane into the air, the blanket over the Northeast eventually will turn New York Harbor into a tropical paradise – which will be good, because sea level rise in Florida is turning the lower end of the Sunshine state into an algae-coated sand bar.
Northern snowbirds will not have to travel as far to see palm trees, thus saving the money on motor fuel they will not burn traveling to “Florida: The Undersea Paradise.
But I must look askance at a wannabe state chief executive who opines that climate warming is caused by too many of us humans standing too close together.
Mr. Wagner actually said that. He also told an 18-year-old college student and Chester County native she was “young and naive” for asking her elders to give up profiting from trashing her air.
Tom Wolf promised a severance tax. Alas, the legislature, led by Mr. Wagner, said the drillers would leave the state.
Think about that: they would leave all that gas behind rather than share some of the profits with the people from under whose feet they are taking it.
Our grandkids are going to be really disappointed.