The Pennsylvania Economic Development For A Growing Economy (PA Edge) Tax Credits (HB1059) dangles cyclical, repetitive, short-term labor promises while sacrificing the health and safety of residents, increasing methane emissions into the atmosphere, and forcing laborers to end up once again in a vulnerable, exploitative situation after construction. Without public comment, regulatory accountability, or long-term labor force development, the Pennsylvania House and Senate voted in favor of HB 1059. Governor Wolf and Pennsylvania legislators must use their position of power to lead in the imminently needed, just transition from fossil fuels to clean, renewable energy rather than continue the practice of handing our land, air, water, and health over to toxic industries.
The misguided priority in the proposed deal is an annual $50 million tax credit to encourage blue hydrogen production in Pennsylvania. It also includes annual tax breaks of $50 million for milk processing, $50 million for medical research, and expands an existing tax credit for companies using fracked methane in manufacturing. Milk processing and medical research aside, HB1059 is a disastrous government hand out to the fossil fuel industry at a time when we need such funding to be used instead to rapidly support the just transition to clean, renewable energy. Effective purposes for hydrogen are very limited and the politically favored concept of carbon capture and storage with hydrogen production is still unproven. Focusing on fossil-fuel-based-technologies is salvaging an industry that should rightly be phased out and replaced with a focus on uplifting clean, renewable energy that is the way of the future.
The building trades that bullied legislative support for this bill may be satisfied with the strong pay laborers will receive for short-term construction jobs, yet it does nothing to develop long term jobs for the labor force and it ignored the residents whose health, safety, and assets will continue to be threatened and deteriorate with the continued reliance on the extractive fossil fuel industry. Once these facilities are constructed, our labor force will be unemployed, leaving them once again desperate and vulnerable to the next iteration of extractive, toxic industry. Governor Wolf should use his remaining time in office to lead policy makers to restructure our work force priorities to a just transition from fossil fuels to clean, renewable energy.
Tammy Murphy (she/her)
Physicians for Social Responsibility Pennsylvania