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House environmental chair says he won’t run for reelection
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House environmental chair says he won’t run for reelection

Matt Wilson

Rep. Daryl Metcalfe favored fossil fuels, while denial of climate change

  • Rachel McDevitt

After this year, the chair of the state House environment committee, a strong supporter for the natural gas industry, and a climate change denier is planning to retire.

After serving 12 terms, Rep. Daryl Metcalfe (R – Butler), 59, announced that he will not be running for re-election. He stated that he feels called to a new adventure and made the statement in a statement. His announcement did not say what he’d do next, and he didn’t respond to an interview request to talk about the decision.

Metcalfe is a conservative politician who was first elected in 1998. While chair of the House State Government Committee, Metcalfe led an annual Right to Keep and Bear Arms protest at the capitol. He also blocked Democratic-sponsored legislation.

Metcalfe was elected chair of the Environmental Resources and Energy Committee in the 2019-20 legislative session.

Chad Forcey, executive director of Pennsylvania Conservative Energy Forum, said in a statement that Metcalfe has been open and willing to discuss “all of the above” energy sources, and that his work on the committee has set the stage for a workable regulatory framework for the solar industry in Pennsylvania.

Metcalfe has used his position to kill bills that would increase the accountability of natural gas drillers or increase renewable energies, while allowing bills to repeal regulations to be passed even as climate change becomes more urgent.

Metcalfe invited climate deniers to testify in hearings, where they argued against global warming measures.

As chair of the ERE Committee, he is a key opponent for Gov. Tom Wolfs plan to be a member of the Regional Greenhouse Gas initiative which makes power stations pay to pollute, is a key opponent to Gov. Metcalfes platform enabled him to organize numerous hearings on RGGI. These hearings were stacked with likeminded opponents. He proposed legislation and resolutions that would allow the legislature to block RGGI. He also wrote letters to offices he believed could prevent the state from participating in the effort, such RGGI, Inc., a nonprofit that manages the program.

These efforts have not worked so far. Despite having cleared all regulatory hurdles, the state is still facing delays that could lead to a court challenge.

Representative Greg Vitali (D. Delaware), minority chair of the ERE commission, said that he was shocked by the announcement.

Vitali stated that Metcalfe is a good friend, but he can be difficult to work with.

Vitali said that it is not a good idea to have the majority chairman of an environment committee in a state that produces a lot of greenhouse gases like Pennsylvania.

Vitali stated that if the GOP holds the House in 2022, he hopes that a moderate Republican will be elected to the position.

David Masur, executive Director of PennEnvironment, stated that he doesn’t think Metcalfes departure will alter business-as usual for the GOP’s environmental policy.

He pointed out that very few bills passed through the ERE committee became law because it was not a place where people could work together and find common ground.

Republican House leaders didn’t respond to requests for comment.

Metcalfes term expires on Nov. 30.

In a statement, he said he worked to limit government and “protect taxpayers,” and he thanked voters for electing him, saying he’s “honored by the broad and deep base of support from citizens across the state.”

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