The Mark UP

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

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.