Conservation Voters of Pennsylvania is making the environment a top priority across the Commonwealth.


Josh McNeil: The American Jobs Plan will build a better future for us all

We are at a critical moment in our nation’s future. In Pittsburgh last week, President Biden laid out a plan to meet the scale of the twin climate change and jobs crises with his American Jobs Plan.

We need to get people back to work and build back our economy by investing trillions of dollars in the industries of the future — clean energy technologies and green infrastructure that create millions of new union jobs while curbing the pollution that threatens our air, land, and water. We don’t need to choose between responding to climate change and rebuilding our economy — and in fact, the work goes hand in hand.

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‘Not just climate change’: An activist explains how Biden’s infrastructure plan improves the environment

The $2 trillion infrastructure plan that President Joe Biden rolled out during a stop in Pittsburgh last week does more than just rebuild the nation’s crumbling network of roads and bridges, it also fast-tracks the nation’s pivot away from fossil fuels; builds up electric vehicle infrastructure, and provide tax breaks to encourage new, climate-friendly technology.

This down payment on environmental spending also calls for calls for $10 billion for a Civilian Climate Corps, $16 billion for capping abandoned wells and cleaning up abandoned mines, and a general commitment to “protect and, where necessary, restore nature-based infrastructure.” And if you’re guessing that it’s already drawing comparisons to the New Deal, you’d be correct.

As you might expect, environmental activists are welcoming this emphasis from the White House, where former Secretary of State John Kerry has been tapped to be a new climate czar. One of those advocates, Josh McNeil, the executive director of Conservation Voters of Pennsylvania, took a few minutes to talk about Biden’s sweeping plan and its implications for Pennsylvania. The bottom line: Jobs, jobs, and more jobs.

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In Pennsylvania visit, Biden proposes $16 billion for plugging abandoned oil and gas wells

President Joe Biden’s massive infrastructure spending plan earmarks $16 billion to plug abandoned oil and gas wells across the country.

It’s a potential solution for an expensive and overwhelming problem for Pennsylvania’s Department of Environmental Protection. During House budget hearings last month, DEP Secretary Patrick McDonnell told lawmakers the department spends an average of $17,000 plugging one abandoned well.

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Pa. environmentalists hope for Trump-rule rollbacks under Biden

Pennsylvania environmental groups are optimistic of rolling back former President Donald Trump policy changes in the new Biden administration.

Organizations like PennEnvironment, PennFuture and Conservation Voters of PA praised executive orders by President Joe Biden last week while pointing to more policy changes they want to see sooner rather than later.

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Can Biden’s climate plan spark cooperation in Pa.? Some see possible common ground in jobs, infrastructure

Climate change is one of the four major crises President-elect Joe Biden hopes to tackle after he’s sworn into office in January.

His goal is for the U.S. to reach net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

In Pennsylvania, a high-polluting state with a history of coal and natural gas production, it’s fair to expect pushback on Biden’s plan from the Republican-controlled legislature and industry groups.

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Opinion: Legislators should keep hands off conservation funds

As Pennsylvania legislators begin looking under the Commonwealth’s cushions for enough spare change to plug a state budget gap that could be higher than $4 billion, they should keep hands off of funds already dedicated to conservation and environmental programs.

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Climate activists are turning out Pa. voters to flip the state House — and boost Biden

Edna Patterson can list the reasons she spends 15 to 20 hours a week calling Pennsylvania voters to talk about climate change:

She’s a former high school science teacher. Before that, she worked for a federal climate assessment program as a meteorologist. And she has kids and grandkids.

“Time’s running out,” said Patterson.

Patterson, 68, of West Chester, volunteers for Conservation Voters of PA as it works to reach more than two million voters before Tuesday. And she’s one of many advocates pushing the issue during an election year that has seen Americans roiled by natural disasters extreme enough to capture public attention, even amid the chaos of the coronavirus pandemic.

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US election swing states: will Donald Trump hold on to Pennsylvania?

“The shifting political climate in the state has put a number of races in play that weren’t in prior cycles,” said Josh McNeil, executive director of Conservation Voters of PA. “The increased polarisation, largely around the president, has reshaped the political landscape. If you voted against the environment a lot in, say, Bucks County, it’s a lot harder to get away with it now.”

The Conservation Voters of PA and other environmental groups are spending more than $2m on legislative races in the state, hoping that 2018’s results and anti-Trump backlash will allow for down-ballot Democratic victories. The state-level legislative maps in Pennsylvania heavily favour Republicans, even in the absence of gerrymandering. Although the Democrats are very competitive in state-level races, and win a majority of votes half the time, they routinely fail to win control of the General Assembly.

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Group looks to turn PA General Assembly blue to make progress on the environment

Polls show that a majority of Pennsylvanians want lawmakers to do something about climate change. An annual environmental scorecard tracks how state legislators vote on climate and other environmental issues. In many parts of the state, that voting record is pretty dismal. 

Conservation Voters of PA and its partners put out this scorecard each year. To get more traction on environmental issues, they’re putting money and resources into endorsing candidates to flip Pennsylvania’s Republican-controlled legislature. The Allegheny Front’s Kara Holsopple spoke with Josh McNeil, executive director of Conservation Voters of PA.

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Swing-state Pennsylvanians are divided on fracking. Here’s why.

Josh McNeil, the executive director of Conservation Voters of Pennsylvania, which opposes fracking, said that it is time for the state to break free of extractive industries that have caused boom and bust cycles.

“Two months ago now, the legislature gave away a [$670] million handout to build petrochemical plants in the state, and they did that to create a market for natural gas. I’m not seeing anything like that for solar or wind.”

“We would like to see an even playing field that allows solar and wind, which in many cases are already cheaper than coal and gas, get the same kind of treatment.”

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