Statement: Change of guard in state House opens door for improving environmental protections in Pennsylvania Environmentally friendly candidates pick up legislative seats in 2022 election

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PHILADELPHIA — After a contentious 2022 election cycle in Pennsylvania, a new, pro-environment leadership will steer policymaking in the state House for the next two years. This tectonic shift comes after decades of attacks on environmental policy and proposed rollbacks of existing environmental protections. The new majority that Pennsylvanians elected to the state House of Representatives on Tuesday presents the commonwealth with fresh opportunities to solve our most urgent environmental challenges.

“This is a profoundly exciting moment for Pennsylvania,” said David Masur, executive director of PennEnvironment. “For years, pro-environment allies in Harrisburg have been hamstrung by leaders who attacked the state’s cornerstone environmental and public health safeguards, stalled commonsense policies that had broad bipartisan support and peddled baseless theories questioning the science around global warming. We hope and expect that the newly constituted Pennsylvania legislature can pursue solutions to our most pressing environmental challenges, including climate change, the scourge of single-use plastic waste, and the health and environmental impacts of fossil fuel extraction.”

The new House majority should provide a firewall against both proposals to weaken environmental regulations via changes to the state constitution and rollbacks of environment protections. Now, PennEnvironment urges the expected Speaker-elect Johanna McClinton to choose an Environmental Resources & Energy Committee chair who believes and understands climate science and environmental health, and will push forward a much-needed agenda of transitioning to clean energy and taking other action to mitigate climate change.

“PennEnvironment looks forward to working with the speaker-elect, her committee chairs, and rank-and-file members from both parties in the General Assembly to pass safeguards that will clean up Pennsylvania’s air and water, preserve our commonwealth’s beautiful natural places, and protect public health for generations to come,” Masur said.

This cycle, PennEnvironment and our partners at Environment America Action Fund spent more than $1 million to register thousands of new voters, knock on nearly 100,000 doors, and make 460,000 calls to turn out Pennsylvanians for Governor-elect Josh Shapiro U.S. Senator-elect John Fetterman, and down-ballot pro-environment candidates in key legislative races. Given the election of these officials, PennEnvironment and its partners will be able to spend their time and resources advocating for new, strong environmental policies rather than expending energy defending against efforts to undo existing protections.