Going back to his days as township supervisor in Lower Makefield, Steve has been a committed environmentalist, standing up for a sustainable energy policy and open space preservation. Most recently, Steve received a perfect 100% rating from Pennsylvania's top environmental groups for his voting record in Harrisburg.
Marcellus Shale Gas Extraction
Steve understands that the Marcellus Shale natural gas deposit presents Pennsylvania with an opportunity for economic growth and a potentially plentiful source of alternative energy that burns cleaner than coal and some other conventional sources. However, he feels strongly that the extraction of natural gas from the Marcellus Shale needs to be done in a way that does not harm the environment and, in particular, our drinking water.
Steve feels that Act 13 fails to strike a balance between economic benefits and environmental protection, that is why he opposed Act 13 (HB 1950).
Specifically, Act 13 (HB 1950) -- signed into law by Governor Corbett at night, behind closed doors and without press present -- fails Pennsylvania because:
The impact fee setup by the law is optional by county where the drilling is occurring. Already, one of the most important counties in the region -- Bradford County -- has indicated that it will not impose the fee meaning even fewer revenues. Even if the impact fee were widely imposed by counties throughout the state, it will bring in only about 1/5 of what most other states collect through a drilling tax.
The impact fee does not generate enough revenue to protect the environment.
It forces local communities to allow drilling in residential districts by stripping away local zoning control. This loss of control sets a very bad precedent that restricts what towns can do to protect their residents.
It creates new incentives for the state to lease out more state forest and parklands for drilling.
Steve will continue to fight to change this new law and is introducing new legislation to help prevent further drilling on our state lands.
Steve supports, among many changes to the law, the continuation of the moratorium on drilling in the Delaware River watershed and a comprehensive study on the short- and long-term effects of fracking.
Most recently, Steve joined a group of six other legislators who have a six point plan to fix Act 13. As part of that plan, Steve sponsored legislation that requires greater distances between extraction sites and homes, drinking water supplies and streams, lakes, rivers and other surface waters.
In Harrisburg, Steve serves on both the influential House Environmental Resources and the Energy Committees. In that capacity, Steve has worked closely with industry leaders on new legislation that would increase alternative energy requirements -- making Pennsylvania a leader in solar energy standards -- while enacting new consumer protection rules that would help keep the cost of energy low.
Steve also has worked to promote sound energy policy here at home. He has helped secure a $250,000 grant for Lower Makefield Township to purchase LED lights that will reduce energy usage, thereby saving taxpayers about $50,000 a year. He also helped get a $21,000 grant for Crossing Vineyards in Upper Makefield. The grant is for the purchase of solar panels and will help Crossing Vineyards realize its goal of becoming energy independent within the next 5 years.
Protecting Open Space
Since his days as a leader in the movement that stopped the Matrix big-box store shopping center, Steve has been a strong proponent of open space preservation.
In Harrisburg, Steve serves on the House's Local Government Committee, which considers land use policy and other matters relating to county and municipal government. Steve has introduced a bill in the Committee that would give towns more power to control development.Among other things, Steve's bill would allow towns to reject proposed development if there were not sufficient infrastructure (such as roads, schools, utilities, etc.) to service it. Back home, Steve continues to support residents as well as Lower Makefield and Newtown Townships in their joint fight to stop the proposed relocation of Frankford/Aria Hospital to the land adjacent to Shady Brook Farm.[Steve was one of the founders of Residents Against Frankford's Relocation -- the residents group fighting the move.]