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

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Trump’s first days fuel optimism among drillers, angst for environmentalists

Pipeline Activists

In less than two weeks in office, President Donald Trump is working to usher in a new era for American energy companies. He’s begun rolling back efforts to combat climate change and is pushing for federal approval of controversial, new infrastructure projects — such as the Keystone XL and Dakota Access oil pipelines.

There is guarded optimism among fossil fuel companies as they wait and see, along with everyone else, how Trump will deliver on his promises to boost American energy production. But his win has also been a major blow to many environmental groups, climate scientists, and others who worry about the administration’s disregard for science and policies aimed at protecting public health and the natural world. They’re now steeling themselves for a long, hard fight.

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Pa. environmental groups join forces to increase advocacy

Lake

Two of Pennsylvania’s leading environmental groups are forming a new strategic alliance in response to what they call an “unprecedented anti-environmental political climate at the federal and state levels.”

PennFuture and the Conservation Voters of PA will combine policy, advocacy, and legal resources to mobilize voters around environmental issues and hold lawmakers accountable.

Conservation Voters of PA has staff of five, and will remain a 501(c)(4) advocacy organization with an affiliated PAC. PennFuture has a staff of 20 and is a 501(c)(3) organization, which bars it from participating in elections. But PennFuture President and CEO Larry Schweiger says the alliance builds on a model other organizations have used in other states.

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PIPELINE POLITICS AT PLAY IN STATE FAVORING DEMS

Fracking

Pennsylvania is not only poised to be a clincher in a tight presidential election — the state is also at the center of a pitched national debate about energy and climate change.

Up and down the Keystone State ballot, candidates are running campaigns either pushing renewable energy or vowing to cut regulations to boost a struggling oil and gas industry.

Central to the debate: the role of domestic fuel from the state’s massive Marcellus Shale play.

“In the same way Pennsylvania is a swing state in the local election, it’s been crucial to the way the whole country deals with the environment and energy,” said Josh McNeil, executive director of the Conservation Voters of Pennsylvania. “The oil industry started in Pennsylvania, the coal industry ran the state for decades, and now it’s at the center of the argument around natural gas.”

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Legislative scorecard finds waning support for environmental bills in 2015-16

Natural Gas Wells

Pennsylvania’s state lawmakers voted less often for pro-environment legislation and more often for bills that would weaken environmental protection in the 2015-16 legislative session than they did the previous year, according to a tally published by four environmental groups on Wednesday.

An annual legislative scorecard from PennEnvironment, the Sierra Club, Clean Water Action and Conservation Voters of Pennsylvania found that the environmental voting record of the House as a whole dropped to 35 percent from 48 percent in the 2013-14 session, while the Senate’s environmental record declined to 38 percent from 41 percent.

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Bills would permit commercial development in Pa. state parks

Salt Springs State Park

Pennsylvania's award-winning parks could be better if golf courses, hotels, inns, restaurants, amusement parks, water slides, and other outdoor sports facilities were available in them, according to two state representatives backing bills that would open the tent flap to such development.

Rep. Brian Ellis (R., Butler) wants to amend the 1995 Conservation and Natural Resources Act to allow development of those recreational and lodging amenities, along with the establishment of a new, politically appointed Public-Private State Park Partnership Board to propose and oversee development projects.

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Report: gas industry spent $8 million lobbying Pa. legislature in 2015

Harrisburg

The natural gas industry spent $8 million lobbying Pennsylvania politicians last year, according to a new analysis from the nonpartisan government reform group, Common Cause/PA, and the Conservation Voters of PA.

The project, called MarcellusMoney, is an ongoing effort to track the political influence of Pennsylvania’s gas drillers, who have spent $55.9 million on lobbying since 2007.

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