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Fossil fuel subsidy not wise investment

Last month, the General Assembly passed a bill, HB1100, that approves massive subsidies to the fossil fuel, plastics, fertilizer and petrochemical industries.

Neither the House nor the Senate held a single hearing to weigh the public’s concerns about this unbelievably expensive, overreaching bill.

Perhaps they don’t want the public to know that if this bill becomes law, it will cost an average of $22 million annually in unpaid taxes for each plant for the next 30 years. That’s more than $600 million for each plant over the lifetime of these credits.

This means each of the only 800 required (not necessarily permanent) jobs per plant will likely cost the taxpayer more than $27,000 per year and more than $800,000 over the 30-year span.

This is not to mention the costs to our air and water quality from toxic chemicals, costs to taxpayers for cleaning up that pollution, and healthcare costs.

Petrochemical plants are by their nature so dangerous to human health that the area surrounding similar plants in Louisiana has cancer risks 50 times higher than the national average, earning the nickname “Cancer Alley.”

We also need to consider what will happen to other industries, such as agriculture and tourism, which suffer lost jobs and revenue when toxins contaminate our environment.

HB1100 is just one part of a package of eight bills providing even more tax credits to companies making certain chemicals or fertilizers, and creating “Keystone Enhancement Zones” where companies will be exempt from local taxes as well, while damaging this state’s already deteriorating infrastructure.

We can spend less money, and spend it better.

For example, solar jobs in Pennsylvania have grown an average of 10% over each previous year, for the last 5 years, despite receiving only a small fraction of the subsidies that fossil fuels have gotten.

We need to consider what’s best for our whole state and its economy, not corporate handouts that lock in future generations. We can do better for ourselves and for our children.

Across Pennsylvania, we need to tell our House and Senate members to uphold the governor’s veto by voting no on a veto override.

Linda K. Wolf

Altoona

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