Natural Gas NOW
Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf thinks it’s more important to waste time demagoguing clean air issues than solving them by issuing stalled DEP pipeline permits.
Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf has been a huge disappointment, an incompetent political showboat. He has routinely tried to appease the wacko element of his constituency at the expense of good government. When he appointed the humorless John Quigley of PennFuture as DEP Secretary, that was the first sign of the Governor’s plan to demagogue first and govern later.
Now, Wolf is wasting time posturing in social media and elsewhere challenging EPA dumping of the politicized top-down EPA ozone rules adopted under President Obama. Meanwhile, actions that would simultaneously help Pennsylvania’s economy and make it possible to clean more air—things like permits for pipelines such as the Atlantic Sunrise—languish on the Pennsylvania DEP desk. What are we now; New York?
The EPA, under Obama, attempted to force-feed air quality measures down everyone’s throat without regard to affordability, effectiveness or efficiency. Some of it was good for natural gas in the short-term, but poor public policy nonetheless, and was clearly going to be aimed at natural gas in the future. It was a substitution of edict for reason. Some of those arbitrary rules are being scrapped now in favor of letting free markets—which have done more for reducing air emissions than any government measure thanks to the private shale revolution and the substitution of gas for coal—simply work their magic.
Tom Wolf is opposed. He likes the heavy hand of government. That’s why he went on Twitter this week to pose with the Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro (another demagogue hoping to be Governor someday) filing suit against the EPA. He’s doing so in league with the detestable Attorney General of New York, Eric Schneiderman, another political climber. (As an aside, I’m beginning to think all attorneys general and prosecutors should be excluded from running for governor – they’re temperamentally unsuited and the temptation to use their prosecutorial authority to demagogue is too great.) Anyway, here’s the Twitter post:
Two aspects to this annoy me greatly. First, it is acknowledged air quality is already improving, so why do we need these over-the-top ozone rules that will be hugely difficult for both Pennsylvania businesses and Pennsylvania local governments to meet? A recent DEP report to the EPA on the subject of ozone even offers the following (emphasis added):
Significant reductions in the monitored ozone values have occurred from when the 1997 8-hour ozone designations were made in 2004 until today. This reduction in ozone levels is due to many factors which include the reduction in transport of NOx emissions from upwind point sources, and lower sulfur levels in transportation fuels along with better emission controls on highway vehicles and nonroad equipment.
We know, of course, emissions have been dramatically lowered by the substitution of natural gas for coal and oil. The shale revolution has accomplished wonders in that regard with no help from government and extending the availability of natural gas to more areas will not only spur Pennsylvania’s shale economy but also lead to further substitutions and still cleaner air. Just imagine how much more can be done if we replace gasoline with CNG.
This brings me to my second problem with Wolf’s demagoguing here. Why isn’t he getting his DEP to move on stalled pipeline permits for projects, such as the Atlantic Sunrise, for example, which already have FERC approval, rather than wasting time on this nonsense? Isn’t promoting the use of natural gas over coal and oil a lot more important and more meaningful in reducing emissions? The answer is obvious. Our governor is a showboat and little more.