Governor Shapiro’s Ten Year Plan Fails to Envision a Just, Sustainable Economy

Posted Feb 15, 2024, by Alex Downing

Main Street, Canonsburg. Photo by Allison Evans
Main Street, Canonsburg. Photo by Allison Evans

On January 30th, Governor Shapiro released his administration’s Ten Year Strategic Plan for Economic Development in Pennsylvania.  Governor Shapiro could have used this moment to champion a vision for Pennsylvania that invests in sustainable industries that protect the health and financial stability of residents across the Commonwealth. Instead, his plan maintains the status quo by propping up extractive industries for another decade.

Renewables Are The Future, But Pennsylvania Isn’t Keeping Up

Pennsylvania has fallen behind on clean energy, and committing to a fossil-fueled economy through 2034 will only place us further behind the states leading the way on the transition to renewables. New York and Maryland have renewable energy targets for 2030 of 70% and 50%, respectively, and are rapidly growing the workforce and infrastructure to meet these aggressive goals. In this plan, as has been the case throughout his first year in office, Governor Shapiro fails to set any target, instead focusing mostly on natural gas, fracked hydrogen, and nuclear investments.

Clean energy is the driving force for new energy jobs in the country, not oil and gas. Even in 2022, when gas and petroleum production skyrocketed due to the war in Ukraine, solar, wind, battery storage and nuclear jobs still added more new jobs. Electric vehicle production is the fastest-growing energy technology sector in the country and renewable power accounts for 84% of new power generation jobs. This trend will only accelerate as federal funding from the Inflation Reduction Act and CHIPS Act becomes widely available to states. Pennsylvania must adapt to this new renewable-driven reality or risk falling even further behind the states that do.

The plan has some encouraging policies: investing in outdoor recreation and tourism, supporting small business development for disadvantaged workers, and expanding employment opportunities for formerly incarcerated people all exhibit leadership and progressive values that can help our communities thrive. But without truly shifting the state’s economic priorities towards a more sustainable path, the Governor’s plans will remain thoroughly out of touch with the trajectory we need to thrive in the coming decade.

The Plan Parrots Fossil Fuel Industry Language & Priorities

The “PA Gets It Done” plan also repeats a number of industry talking points. Despite a blatant lack of vision around developing renewable energy, battery storage, or other alternatives to fossil fuels, it insists on referring to the listed priorities as an “all-of-the-above” energy approach. It touts industries like plastics and fracked gas hydrogen hubs (with carbon capture) that demand a continued reliance on fracking as economic cures when neither have lived up to expectations. It parrots claims we’ve heard from oil and gas executives calling for permitting reform without any evidence that DEP is holding up approvals.

All of this comes in the wake of several concerning reports about the administration’s relationship with the oil and gas industry through its first year in office. Governor Shapiro convened a secretive working group on greenhouse gas emissions that included representatives from Shell, CNX, Constellation Energy, and Olympus Power. In November, he announced a strategic partnership with CNX, despite previously charging them for multiple environmental crimes as Attorney General. And in 2023, the Governor accepted gifts from a pair of entities related to oil and gas despite passing a gift ban for himself and other executive branch members in his first week in office. Team Pennsylvania, a public-private partnership nonprofit involved in coordinating the state’s hydrogen hubs, gifted him Super Bowl tickets in 2023 and Michael Brunelle, a lobbyist for Mariner East Pipeline operator Energy Transfer, paid for $1,650 worth of tickets and food for a Democratic Governors Association fundraiser. 


  • Alex Downing

    Alex Downing is the Digital Communications Strategist for CCJ. He was previously our Communications Associate and an Outreach Fellow. He manages all of our social media and writes our monthly newsletter, the Coalfield Review. Alex was born and raised in Pittsburgh's north suburbs and learned about the importance of nature and conservation at a young age through his father and grandfather’s involvement with preserving parks and hiking trails in the area. He has a bachelor’s degree in Public Relations and Strategic Communications from American University and a master’s degree in Environmental Studies from Point Park University. Alex currently lives in Bethesda, Maryland with his partner Lindsey. Outside of work, he enjoys kayaking, watching movies, and rooting for the Steelers, Penguins, and Pirates. Contact Alex at alex@centerforcoalfieldjustice.org.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Shopping Cart