On Tuesday, a consortium of environmental groups across the state released the annual Pennsylvania Environmental Scorecard.
Despite some positive trends since the first version of the scorecard was published in 2012, Clean Water Action PA Campaigns Director Steve Hvozdovich said the 2018 report indicates that the state capital remains “dominated by anti-environmental legislation.”
“We have far too many legislators who are willing to cast their votes for polluters or their well-heeled lobbyists,” he said.
Scores are assigned by taking a legislator’s voting record and dividing the number of pro-environment votes by the total number of environmental bills available for votes in a given year.
Lawmakers who scored 100% in the Pittsburgh region, referred to as “environmental champions” in the report, include Representative Dan Miller (D-42), Representative Harry Readshaw (D-36) and Senator and Minority Leader Jay Costa (D-43).
Local legislators who received 0% on the scorecard include Rep. Daryl Metcalfe (R-12) of Butler County and Scott Hutchinson (R-21) of Clarion and parts of Butler.
State Senator and Republican gubernatorial candidate Scott Wagner, who famously claimed that climate change was caused by the earth moving closer to the sun, also came in at 0%.
Speaking to the media at a press conference unveiling the report, Representative Gene DiGirolamo (R-18), one of only two Republicans in the House to earn a 100% on the scorecard, said the concerns highlighted in the report “should not be a partisan issue.”
DiGirolamo emphasized the potential hazards of several fracking-related bills that will be voted on when lawmakers reconvene on September 14. In particular, he pointed to House Bill 19-59, which would allow oil and gas companies to pick their own third-party experts to approve their work permits instead of the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection.
The bill passed in the House earlier this year, but DiGirolamo vowed to work to block it in the Senate. “I think it would be a drastic mistake if we were to allow that to get signed into law,” he said.
The authors of the report said they hoped the legislation highlighted in the scorecard will be a resource for voters as they go to the polls this November.
“[Regulatory reform] often happens under the radar,” said Joanne Kilgour, director of the PA Sierra Club, “it’s very technical … often dry subject matter, but [it’s] actually absolutely critical to our democracy.”