The Good Economist August 2016 - Page 8

"There won't be a change in energy policy without a change in the policymakers. Elections matter!" This urging from State Representative Leanne Krueger-Braneky encapsulates her strategy to remedying the chaotic state of energy policy in Harrisburg. "We have witnessed a failure of leadership. We have multinational corporations prescribing environmental policy."

Earlier this year, the process that surrounded major updates to Pennsylvania's natural gas regulations illustrated that energy policy-making often resembles "the wild, wild west." The state Department of Environmental Protection began updating the rules in 2011, culminating in a historically extensive public review process. Yet, despite approval from the Environmental Quality Board and the Independent Regulatory Review Commission, both the House and Senate Environmental Resources and Energy committees rejected the regulations and took only 12 days to dismantle 5 years of rule-making. The bill eventually signed by Governor Wolf had eliminated proposed rules for conventional natural gas drillers.

Newcomers like Krueger-Braneky - the first woman to serve the 161st Legislative District - offer a shining ray of hope that a shift in perspective is underway. A year into her career as a legislator, she has already caused a stir within the halls of the Capitol Building. "I have taken on the oil and gas lobby and NRA at the same time," said Krueger-Braneky. However, this willingness to push against the inertia of status quo has its toll. "I will forever be running for my seat. ... I don't foresee myself doing this for the next thirty years."

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The Commonwealth View

Changing State Energy Policy Begins with Changing PolicyMakers