Congressional Candidates’ Views on Clean Energy, Climate Change: PA-11

( – promoted by John Morgan)

Originally posted on The Mark Up.

This is the seventh in a continuing series by the NRDC Action Fund on the environmental stances of candidates in key races around the country.  

Northeast Pennsylvania’s 11th Congressional District, including Scranton, Wilkes-Barres and the Poconos resorts, flourished in the 19th century after the discovery of anthracite coal – the highest carbon type of coal available. Coal mining drove development in the region until the 1940s, when demand shifted to cheaper alternatives like oil and natural gas. Today, coal mines are more of a tourist attraction than an economic driver, and Scranton is best known as the setting for NBC’s The Office.

For the past 25 years, the 11th district has been represented in the U.S. House by Democrat Paul Kanjorski. Throughout his time in Congress, Rep. Kanjorski has typically voted the right way on environmental issues. Last year, for example, he received a perfect score from the League of Conservation Votes, which means that he voted for the environment at every opportunity. This includes voting for the American Clean Energy and Security Act (ACES), the first climate bill to pass a chamber in Congress. After the vote he said, “We need to begin the process of decreasing greenhouse gas emissions, creating clean energy jobs in America, and reducing our dependence on foreign oil.”

In November, Kanjorski will be challenged for the third time by Republican Lou Barletta, the mayor of Hazleton. The Cook Report ranks this race as a “Tossup.” Barletta gained notoriety in 2006 when, as Hazleton’s mayor, he passed one of the nation’s most sweeping anti-immigration laws. He’s had little to say about environmental issues, however, during his multiple Congressional runs, and what he has said is less than encouraging. He wrongly claims that ACES will “stifl[e] the economic recovery and jeopardiz[e] millions of jobs.” The truth is quite the opposite. According to in-depth modeling built on collaborative research by the University of Illinois, Yale University and the University of California, ACES has the potential to boost GDP by more than $100 billion, and create 1.9 million jobs.

Barletta has also been a steadfast proponent of offshore drilling and dirty fuels, like liquid coal. And, after the BP blowout, he posted on his blog that “[a] leaking oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico does not justify the sinking of billions of dollars in a cap-and-tax scheme…” Actually, putting a price on carbon pollution is critical toward breaking our dependence on oil. We need to recognize that it is because we have not engaged in a serious effort to reduce our oil use that we’ve been forced to pursue petroleum products in sensitive areas like the Gulf’s deep waters. Whoever wins this race needs to help lead eastern PA into a new energy future.

The NRDC Action Fund believes that it is important for the public in general, and the voters of specific Congressional districts, be aware of this information as they weigh their choices for November.

Clean Energy Means Jobs

I’m Lauren Horne, a Regional Program Manager for the Blue Green Alliance (BGA) in Pennsylvania based out of Pittsburgh. I wanted to post on this blog as a way to talk with the progressive community about the work of BGA and how we can all work toward a clean energy future.

A little about BGA and my work — The Blue Green Alliance was founded in 2006 by the United Steelworkers of America and the Sierra Club.  Since then, we’ve expanded to include other unions and environmental groups.  I previously worked with the United Steelworkers International Union doing the things that union activists do — contract negotiations, organizing, legislative/political work. Now, with the BGA I get to talk to all union members on the importance of developing clean energy in America, both for our jobs and our planet.

Clean energy means jobs.  In Pennsylvania, our unemployment rate just shot back up to 8.8% in September, and since last year it has gone up 3.2%  So, it’s really apparent we need jobs.  By investing in clean energy, we can create thousands of jobs in Pennsylvania researching, developing, manufacturing, and constructing clean energy solutions.  In addition, we can reduce global warming pollution and ensure America is more secure.

Our Senators have a lot of tough decisions to make this year, but they are decisions that will help our country get back on track. Senators Specter and Casey need to hear from all of us that they should be supporting comprehensive climate change and clean energy solutions.  

I’ll be blogging more about clean energy and worker’s right soon.    Thanks for reading my first post.  For more information on the Blue Green Alliance, go to