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McGinty And Toomey Agree On Fracking, But Not Regulations

Matt Rourke
Pennsylvania U.S. Senate candidates Republican Sen. Pat Toomey, left, and Democrat Katie McGinty take part in a debate at Temple University in Philadelphia, Monday, Oct. 24, 2016.

Among several key issues that U.S. Senate candidates Republican Pat Toomey and Democrat Katie McGinty sharply disagree on is how to produce energy, while protecting the environment. For example, McGinty supports fracking in Pennsylvania, but with increased regulations and a severance tax. Toomey is also pro-fracking, but wants to limit its regulation.

“I don’t know anyone who is not concerned with having a clean environment,” Toomey said. “It’s important to me, it’s important to just about everybody that I know. We have a lot of experience with fracking now and we should hold our natural gas development to the highest standards and that’s what our DEP does every day. What Katie McGinty and some others want to do is ignore the fact that this is already very extensively and adequately regulated and bring in another entire regulatory body, the EPA.”

McGinty, however, feels government, at both the state and federal levels, needs to be proactive when it come overseeing such gas extraction operations.

“I think we need to regulate it, zone it, tax it,” McGinty said. “In the previous administration with Gov. Corbett we didn’t get that balance right. The idea that we weren’t allowing good reasonable zoning regulations in terms of where that well development would happen is wrong. It’s also wrong that we’re just about the only state in the country with a shale gas industry that doesn’t pay its fair share in a severance tax.”

Meanwhile, the ethane cracker in Beaver County promises jobs, but many are worried that it’s a large new source of pollution in a region that has seen slow but steady improvement in its air quality over the years. McGinty said Pennsylvania, as well as other regions, shouldn’t have to choose between jobs and the environment when, “you ensure that you’ve got good, strong regulations, when you ensure that you’ve got a solid environmental cop on the beat.”

For his part, Toomey said western Pennsylvania can have the ethane cracker without excessive pollution.

“We hold industrial facilities like this cracker to much, much higher standards than we used to,” said Toomey. “And so they’re just not going to be permitted to put out the kind of pollutants that would have been standard back in the 1950s and '60s and '70s and even '80s. Technology has enabled us to engage in these industrial activities with far, far less pollutants.”