Pennsylvania’s Energy Plan and the Environment

Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett surprised many with the January 2014 release of his new energy plan for the Commonwealth entitiled “ENERGY = JOBS”.  This eighty-one page document covers a range of energy related issues including a look at the state’s energy portfolio, a plan for making use of the state’s resources, a plan for transforming these opportunities into reality and how Pennsylvania will leverage these energy opportunities.  The Executive Summary notes that “Energy = Jobs is a serious commitment in Pennsylvania.  It reflects our commitment to continue to promote our hard work ethic, provide education and training for jobs that match company needs and our citizen’s strengths and encourgae ingenuity inherent in our entrepreneurs, businesses and research institutions.” 

Other points from the Executive Summary note that it is the role of government to not only protect public health and safety but to foster a welcoming atmosphere for businesses that create jobs.  This is achieved, at least in part, by having “high, but fair, standards and consistent, predictable rules that protect the environment and men and women developing our natural resources.”  While providing a few examples of the synenergy between environmental enhancements and energy development, an underpinning principle in this plan is that both activities can be done to one another’s mutual benefit and that “Economic prosperity means a bright future for our environment…”.

This premise – that environmental protections and enhancements are directly related to economic prosperity – is well established in the world today.  Countries that are struggling to feed their hungry and provide basic services have little time to consider environmental impacts or protections.  As embraced by the Governor’s plan, responsible resource development benefits and protects environmental values by providing the “energy” to plan, to minimze and to mitigate and to restore areas that are impacted by development activities.  In many cases it can even address those unreclaimed areas that have been impacted by previous resource development.  The laws and rules in place today in Pennylvania ensure that the temporary impacts associated with energy resource development are, in fact, temporary and that air, water and land are protected and restored to levels equal to or better than what existed pre-development.  This is what the Governor’s energy plan brings to the table – an energy based prosperity that assures responsible environmental protections.

Gary Slagel, who most recently retired as the Senior Advisor of Environmental Affairs for CONSOL Energy, has joined the firm as a Government Affairs Specialist. Mr. Slagel is an engineering graduate from the University of Dayton and spent 35 years with CONSOL and CNX Gas in several capacities including Director of Environmental Regulatory Affairs and later Director of Government Affairs working on both coal and natural gas issues.
 
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