Posted on April 20th, 2011 1:20 pm
Since Marcellus Shale activity in Pennsylvania started getting attention, the environmental lobbyist group, PennFuture, has been at the forefront of criticizing the natural gas industry—warning of environmental destruction from the development of this fossil fuel.
PennFuture has perpetuated the lies in the sensationalist film "Gasland", leading the general public to believe that hydraulic fracturing causes tap water to light on fire and threatens human health. The group’s website includes resources urging a moratorium on Marcellus Shale development, and highlights community events to call citizens to action against the industry.
The environmental group’s main goal is for the legislature to pass a substantial tax on natural gas development. “The legislature must adopt a substantial tax with no loopholes or sweetheart deals. The tax should provide significant money allocated to the environment to help fund Growing Greener…”
Yet, warning of drilling’s perils and fighting for companies to pay their “fair share” is only one part of PennFuture’s agenda. The organization seamlessly flips the switch into a pro-gas lobbying firm—defending the industry and supporting a package of seven bills designed to subsidize natural gas vehicles through a combination of tax credits and government loans.
The environmental lobbyist group is simultaneously advocating for taxing and subsidizing the same industry not because it makes any logical sense, but because this tax-spend-regulate policy agenda is beneficial to the group.
PennFuture and like-minded groups always want more money to funnel through the government, to have policymakers—with the assistance of environmental groups—rank, tax and regulate energy resources as they see fit. This botched mentality has failed to generate the benefits promised in the past and will continue to miss the mark in the future.
Posted on March 25th, 2011 9:01 pm
The Penguins are heading to the playoffs yet again, but they are pretty banged up this year. If you’ve followed any news at all this past week, you know that Matt Cooke was suspended for the remainder of the regular season and the first round of the playoffs. In Pittsburgh, we like teams that win, and the Penguins certainly do their fair share, but with the current roster it’s not going to be easy to hoist “Lord Stanley” again in 2011.
What’s not on the front page of the newspaper is the hard lesson that many communities all across the country are learning - no energy source is guilt free. A community group in Wisconsin recently rallied to suspend a big wind project going to be developed by The Ledge Wind Energy Center. The reason - it would block their sun and create unwanted noise. Now, the company says it can’t move forward because of uncertainty with the regulatory climate in Wisconsin. Sounds like a wimpy, cop-out to us here at the Common Sense Blog. Maybe to toughen them up a little, we should require them to open a coal mine or power plant before they start another wind project.
Just south of Pennsylvania, in the State of Maryland, State Senator Thomas Middleton suggested that Governor Martin O'Malley should turn his complicated wind project into a study. The cost of the project might exceed $1 billion dollars, all borne by the rate payers. I guess in government that cost is a rounding error, but in middle class budgets, any increase in energy cost comes right out of the bottom line. Good thing they are reviewing this bad project and considering its suspension.
Electricity is crucial to everyday life. It keeps the lights on – and it’s a source to make the modern world productive. The message is starting to resonate, but we need to keep the pedal to the floor.
Posted on March 16th, 2011 5:11 pm
Okay, so there are many differences between Charlie Sheen “winning” and the coal industry “winning”. We can understand your pain if it seems difficult to find victories to cling to in this political climate. We continue to have excessive regulations that are driven by fear and emotion imposed on the industry we all love.
Environmental groups continue to take us to court, challenge our permits, and push for legislation that would end coal usage tomorrow (like that could actually happen). The model is –if you can’t get it done through regulation – sue. But the team here at CSM refuses to give up, so here is something we can rally around.
On Tuesday, March 8th, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett introduced his 2011-2012 budget. The budget is well over 2,000 pages, but in one paragraph, the governor is seeking to keep good on his campaign promise.
According to the proposed budget “The Cabinet official, currently C. Alan Walker (Secretary of Department of Community and Economic Development), who is awaiting Senate confirmation, "is empowered to expedite any permit or action pending in any agency where the creation of jobs may be impacted.”
Let’s be clear, industry, whether coal, oil or gas, is not getting a free ride. We will still have to comply with hundred of regulations from multiple departments. Extreme groups want you to believe the whole system is turned upside down – that is simply not true. Fortunately, the PA DCED agrees with us – “The secretary will not be authorized to override an agency's permit decision”, said PA DCED Spokesman Steve Kratz. “All applications still will be required to go through the agency approval process required in statute.”
Additionally, in a very timely press release from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, we now know the economic impact of over-burdensome, delayed regulations. The price tag is a whopping $1.1 trillion to the economy. Looks like the new governor of Pennsylvania is on to something. The press release and full report is available here.
We hope you will join us as we celebrate this tiny victory for common sense.
Posted on March 4th, 2011 10:21 am
Are you numb to the fact that common sense, reality and logic seem to be absent from our political discourse? Is it possible that year after year the upward trend of negative, smear political campaigns and unwarranted attacks have naturally made us lukewarm to reality?
As we look at this week from energy’s perspective, here’s how we rate some recent stories:
Nonsense: Senator Bob Casey, the senior U.S. Senator from Pennsylvania, sided with the New York Times article that is not based in fact, but is instead and example of sensational journalism. Maybe we are naïve to think that our senator would support job creators and our unique competitive advantage – our natural resources. Nonetheless, we hope that Senator Casey soon comes home (listen to last year's radio ad below) and joins with the 100,000 plus employees in the coal and natural gas industries in Pennsylvania. It’s time for leadership, not uneducated activism from our elected officials.
Commonsense: The good news is that Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett gets it. This week he rescinded two policies that were duplicated across executive departments. Of course, the environmental community was quick to decry the Corbett Administration and make claims that he is in the pocket of the natural gas industry. These groups want you to believe that industry now has a free ride with no oversight. Don’t worry though, that is far from true. Industry still must comply with hundreds of laws and regulations already on the books. Here’s to hoping people follow the governor’s lead and don’t fall trap to this nonsense.
Nonsense: Last week GenOn, the Houston, TX-based provider of wholesale electricity was sued by an environmental group in an effort to halt permitting at one of its Pennsylvania facilities. In the next few decades, wind and solar are not going to meet our energy demand so this lawsuit only means one thing -more expensive energy bills for the consumer. You might not care about higher energy costs if your organization’s sole mission is to kill good-paying energy jobs, but for us in the middle class it does matter.
The fight for common sense is not going to be quick or easy. It will take a collective effort from all of us. Tell us what you think at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit us on facebook.
Posted on February 25th, 2011 12:01 pm
As a society, we are busier than ever. Between Facebook, Twitter, TV, family and sports how do we find the “me” time. It’s hard to clear the clutter and make sense of which way is up. Further, as an employee in the coal or natural gas industry, you are pulled into events, meetings, or letter writing campaigns all to protect against over-burdensome, activist government agencies. Just think back to last year, when the Commonsense Movement requested you to attend the EPA hearing in Pittsburgh on coal waste. Many times these activities can distract from the daily work or take time away from friends and family. At some point you have to ask yourself – does it matter? Collectively, are we having an impact?
If you have been following the news, you know this past week Wisconsin has been the talk around water cooler. As a recap, the teachers union has shut down schools because Governor Scott Walker has proposed to end collective bargaining and increase the contributions to health care and pension by 12.6% and 5.8% respectively. It was estimated over the weekend that 60,000-plus protesting the plan flooded the state capitol. This attention has sparked a nationwide press cycle with each side weighing in on the proposal. Furthermore, this is causing other states to join the “flee” movement. Indiana Democrats walked out to halt a vote on “collective bargaining” in that state.
But wait - it does not stop there. A group of environmental protestors staged a “sit in” in Kentucky’s capitol for 3 days over the weekend to stop coal mining. The following Monday, February 14th, a crowd outside the capitol estimated at 1,000 protested further against mining and demanded its end. (Editor’s note: Although Governor Steve Beshear's came into office lukewarm on coal mining issues, he has stood strong against these protests). Nonetheless, the Governor had to agree to a meeting with this group to hear their concerns. We hope he continues to stand with the good paying, job creators.
Over the years politics has become a messy business. As this past week can attest, the most aggressive and loudest group will get the attention of our leaders and the press. It’s kind of like the 80/20 rule, but with only the small vocal 20% of the people driving decisions that affect our daily lives. When a small group of people coalesce around an industry and activate, people take notice. One more example is the Tea Party Movement.
Now, on this page, we will never suggest that we discard public discourse or disrespect our elected officials. However, what we will suggest is that participation does matter. Think about it this way. In Pennsylvania, we have over 41,000 jobs (direct and indirect) related just to the coal industry. If we stood collectively when necessary, do you think we could move public opinion? Absolutely, yes. Mark Twain agrees once stating, “The public is the only critic whose opinion is worth anything at all.”
In this light, thank you to the nearly 5,000 individuals that have signed up for our Movement so far. Work is still left to be done and it does matter. Will you find 3 more people to sign up today? How about our Facebook site? Please sign up and tell us what you think.