First, many THANKS to all who worked hard for the campaigns of Joe Sestak, Kathy Dahlkemper, Dan Connolly, and Dave Levdansky, all candidates who were sincerely committed to protecting the environment, and all who lost on Tuesday.
The infusion of more right-wing Republicans in the U.S. Senate and a change in control of the House of Representatives places in jeopardy any comprehensive approach to global warming and a green-jobs based economy. We can expect attempts to weaken the authority of the Environmental Protection Agency, and despite the records of such companies as BP and the Massey coal company we can expect calls for less regulation, not more. We can also expect corporate demand for free trade agreements without environmental safeguards. We can even expect an impact at the local level on issues such as the designation of wilderness status for areas in the Allegheny National Forest.
The changes in the state reflect the national sweep. For example, four Pennsylvania Democratic members of Congress lost their seats; Kathy Dahlkemper (Erie), Patrick Murphy (Bucks County), Chris Carney (Lackawanna County), and Paul Kanjorski ( Carbon County). In the fifty-three state House districts in our region there were 25 contested races. Three incumbent Democrats lost; Dave Levdansky (Elizabeth, Dist. 39), John Pallone (Arnold, Dist. 54), and Jim Casorio (North Huntingdon, Dist. 56). Of these, our most serious loss is that of Dave Levdansky, an opponent of special interests and a fighter for a Marcellus severance tax.
With a new Governor and a switch in control of the state House, the prospects may be even bleaker for Pennsylvania’s environment and communities. Placed in jeopardy are a Marcellus Shale drilling severance tax and DEP funding for adequate inspection, funding for the Growing Greener program, loan programs for the use of alternate energy programs, public transit, etc.
During the next two years it will be essential that our elected officials understand that there is a solid constituency for protection of the environment.
That means MORE letter writing to our US Senators, Congressmen, state Senators, and state Representatives. More letters to the editor. More questions at Townhall meetings.
May they NEVER have the excuse that they did not hear from their constituents on any important issue