This week Gov. Wolf signed House Bill 1059. This bill was rammed through the legislature on the last day of the session and passed in the height of election season when most of the political press (and politicians) are distracted (not to mention baseball, which fills the front-pages). Spotlight PA provides excellent coverage, as always.
Ninety cents out of each dollar offered will be used to encourage the use of natural gas, including $1 billion in tax incentives to attract a new “hydrogen hub” to Pennsylvania.
The package will provide $50 million a year in tax breaks to a company that agrees to produce hydrogen for 20 years and increase an existing methane tax credit from $30 million to $56.5 million annually. The latter credit, passed in 2020 and set to expire in 2050, was designed to encourage the use of methane to manufacture other products, such as fertilizer or gasoline.
The legislation also includes $15 million annually over eight years for a milk processing project, $10 million annually over 5 years for biomedical research, and $10 million annually over 5 years for semiconductor production.
Although there’s smaller amounts for other industries, the bulk of this is going to the natural gas industry – in the midst of record profits. The bill was passed 6 hours after it was introduced – billions of dollars in giveaways in just a few hours. According to that article, the bill gives a billion dollars over 20 years to U.S. Steel (who is expected to be the main recipient). Their lobbyists earned their fees this year. Even as Gov. Wolf and other politicians claim they’re working toward carbon neutrality, they pass a bill essentially guaranteeing a rise in carbon emissions (carbon capture is typical greenwashing).
The state legislature can’t usually pass any useful legislation due to partisan gridlock, but apparently this kind of giveaway can sail through with a bi-partisan majority. Not everyone was a fan of how it was passed,
Republican state Rep. Jason Ortitay, who also voted against the bill, took issue with the process in which the bill was developed, telling City & State that he wasn’t even aware that the legislation was in play until two days before it was voted on. Even then, he didn’t see the final bill language until Wednesday, Oct. 26 – the same day lawmakers voted on it.
“It would have been nice to vet this instead of the Senate loading up an amendment and sending it over,” he said. “A little bit more time would have been nice.”
There was an unusual bipartisan alliance of good government, environmentalist and small government legislators opposing the bill. Many DelCo legislators voted against this giveaway – Rep. Krueger, Zabel and O’Mara all voted against it as did Sen. Kearney and Cappelletti. Our Senator Kane, unfortunately, was on the wrong side of this vote, as he has been on several environmental votes.
Election Day is next week, Nov. 8th.