It's Time to Break Free From a Dirty Energy Past
Pennsylvania’s history in fossil fuel-based energy generation dates back to 1859 and the nation’s first oil well in Titusville, PA. Oil, coal and gas fueled the state’s industrial growth and provided the bulk of its energy supply throughout the 20th century. Today, dirty energy still fuels much of our economy in Pennsylvania, including as an exporter of coal and gas. But at what cost to public health, the natural environment, and sustainability of future generations?
Once the largest coal mining state in the nation, over 15 billion tons of coal has been mined from Pennsylvania’s land. Although coal-fired power plants still provide 23% of Pennsylvania’s energy, the industry has declined in recent decades with over 4,500 megawatts of coal capacity retired since 2012. Coupled with additional anticipated retirements, coal emissions are expected to continue their decline in Pennsylvania. As coal companies go bankrupt they leave a legacy of environmental devastation that will take decades and millions to clean up.
The rapid growth of the natural gas industry in Pennsylvania has been staggering. Since the fracking boom began in 2007, Pennsylvania has drilled nearly 10,000 gas wells with another 18,000 permitted as of late 2016 — new growth in addition to the hundreds of thousands of abandoned conventional gas wells. Natural gas is touted as a “bridge fuel” while the nation transitions to clean energy, but the impact on Pennsylvania communities in the Marcellus and Utica shale regions has been devastating. Proposed financial and infrastructure investments to maximize natural gas production will tie us to fossil fuel for decades, while policymakers and the industry downplay the risks to Pennsylvania’s environment, public health, and communities.
The amount of natural gas pipelines proposed by an industry that takes private property for its own use through eminent domain, with similar disregard to state forests and public lands in its way as it moves gas from the well pad to market.
One year of fossil fuel subsidies — and it doesn’t stop with the direct giveaways to dirty energy. Consumers pay taxes on clean energy purchases like insulation, solar panels, and energy efficient windows.
Learn more from our Fossil Fuel Subsidy Report >
With falling stock prices and bankruptcies, the gas industry is increasingly desperate for new markets for their surplus gas. One scheme is to build the Philadelphia energy hub to export that gas to overseas markets — a plan full of risk to public health and safety.
Clean energy is within our grasp…if we stop investing in dirty fuels and work together to advance policies, projects and incentives that pave the way for a clean energy economy.
Together, we can reach 50% reductions in our carbon emissions by 2025 and more than 80% by 2050.
We need more energy efficiency projects in place now, and we need to push state agencies and policy makers to prioritize renewable energy as the only viable, long-term solution for our energy future.
Check out the Nature Conservancy’s report on Pipelines >
The U.S. EPA’s Clean Power Plan (CPP) seeks to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the electric power generation sector. In Pennsylvania, we must cut our emissions from electricity generation 30 percent below 2005 levels by 2030 — a goal that is feasible, within reach, and will both limit carbon pollution and encourage clean energy and energy efficiency.
PennFuture is working with partners to ensure sufficient financial, educational and other resources are available to communities that have relied on coal for their livelihoods.
PennFuture works to ensure proper rule making by the Department of Environmental Protection. We present lawmakers with science-based information so they can make sound policy decisions. Our expert staff has decades of experience in Pennsylvania’s policy space and an extensive knowledge of environmental, climate, and energy issues.
Working at all levels of influence, PennFuture builds coalitions and mobilizes action in Harrisburg and Washington to create strong laws and environmental regulations. We act as a watchdog on industry and regulators alike and hold lawmakers accountable for legislative actions that undermine health and environmental protections. We lobby for full funding of both Department of Environmental Protection and Department of Conservation and Natural Resources to protect public health and safety and to protect our public lands.
As America transitions to a clean energy economy, coal communities and working families need help to create new economic opportunities. The bipartisan RECLAIM Act was introduced to the U.S. House of Representatives by coal state representatives to begin that process. It provides $1 billion over the course of five years to support economic and community development projects aimed at revitalizing the places hardest hit by coal’s downturn. Learn More about the Reclaim Act.
Oil and Gas activities are happing in communities across Pennsylvania. Explore this interactive map to see how far dangerous drilling activities are from your neighborhood.
Pennsylvania is the only drilling state without a severance tax, yet its natural gas industry is highly profitable and in one of the richest sources of shale gas in the world. In addition, Pennsylvania has allowed its clean energy and energy efficiency industries to stagnate, even though each was once a national leader in job creation and growth.
Expanded shipments of crude oil by rail have created significant risks for our communities and our environment. We have already seen disasters occur, including derailments in West Virginia, Oregon and Texas, and an explosion in Quebec that killed 47 people. These disasters have led to little meaningful improvements to rail safety.
PennFuture is helping communities protect the health and safety of residents.
We’ve taken legal action to protect neighborhoods, homes and schools and we’re hard at work in Harrisburg ensuring our laws and regulations keep fracking chemicals out of our air and water. We can’t do it alone. The gas industry has deep pockets and powerful influence with our elected officials.
We Need Your Help! Please Donate Now and help us continue the fight to protect Pennsylvania communities.