Pa. environmental chief waiting to see what Trump administration will bring

State Impact

By Marie Cusick

December 15, 2016 

President-elect Donald Trump is solidifying his cabinet, and he appears poised to reverse of many of the Obama administration’s energy and environmental initiatives—including its signature climate change initiative, the Clean Power Plan.

A lot of attention is now turning to how states and local governments will address climate change.

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Trump recently tapped Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt to lead the EPA. Pruitt does not believe in the mainstream science around climate change and helped lead the legal battle against the Clean Power Plan. Trump has also selected former Texas governor Rick Perry to lead the Department of Energy– an agency he once proposed abolishing.

“It’s more important than ever for the state to lead, and for Governor Wolf, the DEP, and the Health Department to be ready to fill the vacuum of leadership,” says David Masur, of the advocacy group, PennEnvironment.

Pennsylvania’s Acting Environmental Secretary, Patrick McDonnell, says addressing climate change remains a priority for the Wolf administration.

“Clearly, climate change is a real thing,” he says. “We, at the department, feel we have a responsibly to deal with it.”

But when asked how he intends to respond to the expected changes at the federal level, McDonnell says he’d like more details about what exactly Trump will do.

“There’s things out there that we need specific answers to specific questions on, in order to really engage,” says McDonnell.

Pennsylvania regulators recently took the first steps to address harmful greenhouse gas emissions at oil and gas sites, but the fate of Obama’s Clean Power Plan remains tied up in federal court, and the DEP is still waiting to see how that is resolved.

Meanwhile, industry groups welcome the expected shift in federal policy.

David Taylor, president of the Pennsylvania Manufacturers Association, says he believes the Trump administration will help breath new life into Pennsylvania’s depressed former industrial areas and views it as one of the reasons for his historic win in the state.

“This administration seems to be quite serious about strengthening the nation by strengthening our industrial production,” says Taylor. “I have been astonished at the almost universally high-quality of people who he’s chosen to serve in his administration.”

Click here to take action to #CutMethane.

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