The gubernatorial forum on energy sustainability took place on Monday night, where all eight Democratic candidates answered questions from event sponsors about the environment, renewable energy and the ever-present issue of drilling for natural gas.
The event was rebroadcast then on Tuesday night on the Pennsylvania Cable Network, and watching the forum on television proved to be just as good as having a front-row seat.
Of course, the most prevalent topic of the night that continued to pop up was drilling for natural gas in the Marcellus Shale. Ignoring the decidedly unfriendly way that certain audience members chose to go about in shouting out questions, each candidate spoke about how they would protect communities from the issues caused by fracking.
A majority of the candidates were supportive on taxing the gas companies that chose to drill within the state. Mechanicsburg pastor Max Myers, though, believed that the pollution caused by drilling was a bigger issue than the idea of taxing the companies, which brought a big round of applause from the audience.
Allentown Mayor Ed Pawlowski, state Treasurer Rob McCord, Rep. Allyson Schwartz, former Department of Revenue Secretary Tom Wolf, and former Department of Environmental Protection Secretaries John Hanger and Katie McGinty all supported a moratorium for fracking on public land.
Lebanon County Commissioner Jo Ellen Litz was the only one to oppose a moratorium on fracking.
Several candidates also took jabs at Governor Tom Corbett, who was invited to the event but did not attend. Corbett is known for being friendly with the gas and drilling industries, something that the Democratic candidates did not let the audience forget.
Schwartz called Corbett a “failed governor” in terms of protecting the environment.
“There’s no answer to global warming in Pennsylvania without firing Governor Corbett,” said Hanger.
Each candidate had his or her own views and ideas for global warming while at the same time managing to stay similar to each others’ views.
“Tackling this issue is our ticket to driving the economy forward,” McGinty said.
Pawlowski voiced that he agreed with everyone who had spoken on the issue so far, earning himself a good deal of applause when he said that Pennsylvania should put some funding into the area of renewable energy as it pertains to reducing global warming.
The question also arose about whether the candidates would accept subsidies from the gas and drilling industries for their campaigns. Pawlowski said up-front that he would not take money from these industries, and Hanger was quick to say the same. Myers joked that he probably wouldn’t even get offers from them. McGinty, McCord, Wolf and Schwartz made no solid promises.
“I am the biggest funder of my campaign,” Wolf quipped at the end of his segment, “so I am beholden to myself.”
Each answer for moderator Dave Davies, WHYY Philadelphia’s senior reporter, was unique in its own right, but never strayed far from the previous candidates’ responses.