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Fast-tracking fossil fuel incentives, 'dress rehearsal for Trump 2024,' and the Krasner report

Plus, PSU cites 'threats' in canceling Proud Boys event.


A daily newsletter by Spotlight PA

Your Postmaster: Colin Deppen
October 25, 2022
Gas money, guv guide, Trump crusade, primetime debate, impeachment report, four-year mark, and Philly fans beat the grease. It's Tuesday.

Gov. Tom Wolf and legislative leaders are quickly and quietly negotiating a massive $3.6 billion tax credit package that includes, among things, a program to encourage natural gas-fueled hydrogen production here.

The total package would be even bigger than the record-setting $1.65 billion incentive given to Shell for its Beaver County plastics plant.

Spotlight PA reports that with the Nov. 8 election fast approaching, such a deal — rumored since September — could appeal to both major parties and their allies in business and organized labor. But Wolf and lawmakers are running out of time to push it through before voters head to the polls. 

Meanwhile, the focus on fossil fuels — $80 million is directed at natural gas production — is raising alarm bells for environmental groups.

Read the full report: As election nears, Wolf and lawmakers look to push through massive tax incentives for natural gas, other industries

THE CONTEXT: The proposed hydrogen credit would piggyback off funding included in the 2021 federal infrastructure bill, which allocated $7 billion in federal aid to develop at least six hydrogen hubs nationwide.

Hydrogen fuel proponents say it's a greenhouse gas-free alternative. But it requires natural gas to make, meaning it's far from carbon neutral.

And while carbon capture and storage technologies are required of related federal incentives, Rob Altenburg, a policy analyst with the environmental group PennFuture, said the technology remains unproven.

"Technically, this doesn't make a lot of sense," Altenburg said of the Harrisburg tax credit package. "But politically, this is very attractive because politicians on both sides of the aisle get to tell the gas industry 'you can keep doing what you're doing and we will address the carbon problem later.'"


"Due to the threat of escalating violence associated with tonight's event, Penn State University Police determined that it was necessary to cancel the speaking event in the interest of campus safety."

—Penn State announcing the last-minute cancellation of Monday's appearance by Proud Boys founder Gavin McInnes amid campus protests

Read our complete coverage, plus key dates, campaign finance data, sample ballots & more at our Election Center 2022 website.

Spotlight on the Issues: Where Mastriano and Shapiro stand on:

»  College Funding & Student Debt
»  Energy & Environment
»  Crime & Justice
»  LGTBQ Rights
»  Abortion, Medicaid, & Opioids
»  Rural Health Care & Broadband
»  Taxes & Business Regulations

More issue analyses will be published in the coming weeks. 

A complete listing of Spotlight PA voter guides:  

»  Your complete guide to voting in the Nov. 8 election
»  Everything you need to know about mail ballots
»  Your complete guide to the candidates for governor
»  How to vet the candidates on your midterm ballot
»  No constitutional amendments on the ballot, but big ones loom
»  How to serve as a poll worker on Nov. 8
»  These Pa. voters haven't missed a Nov. election in 50+ years
»  How Spotlight PA will cover Pennsylvania's 2022 election

En Español:

»  Una guía básica para investigar a los candidatos
»  Cómo trabajar como trabajador electoral el 8 de noviembre
»  Todo lo que necesita saber para votar por correo
»  Su guía completa de los candidatos a gobernador
»  Una guía completa para las elecciones del 8 de noviembre

Support Spotlight PA's vital election coverage by making a gift now.
» BILLY PENN: How Pa. candidates are reaching Latino voters, or not
» INQUIRER: When to expect Pa. election results this time (paywall)
» NEXSTAR: How to watch tonight's Fetterman vs Oz Senate debate
» TRIBLIVE: Pa. election chief says threats fueled by misinformation
» WITF: Dark money groups are boosting candidates in Pa., beyond
Katherine M. loves Halloween and has the front window to prove it. Email your PA Gem submissions (including Halloween and voting pics) to us here, use #PAGems on Instagram, or tag us @spotlightpennsylvania
GOVERNOR'S GUIDE: There's not much that Pennsylvania's next governor can do to directly tackle inflation or its causes, but they can help blunt the impact that rising prices have on residents of the commonwealth. With that in mind, Spotlight PA compiled a guide to where leading candidates Doug Mastriano and Josh Shapiro stand on the gas tax, business regulations, and property taxes.

'DRESS REHEARSAL': Rolling Stone (paywall) reports that former President Donald Trump is preparing to wage an "election integrity" crusade in Pennsylvania — with a focus on Philly — if his U.S. Senate candidate, Mehmet Oz, isn't a resounding winner on Nov. 8. One source told the outlet Trump views a potential challenge in the pivotal midterm race as a "dress rehearsal for Trump 2024."

DEBATE NIGHT: John Fetterman and Mehmet Oz will meet at 8 tonight for their only scheduled debate of the U.S. Senate campaign. Fetterman's team sought to measure expectations early in a memo sent to reporters. LNP (paywall) reports the stakes are arguably higher for him: It's the first time most voters will get a chance to see how he's recovered from a stroke he suffered in May.

KRASNER REPORT: State lawmakers eyeing the impeachment of progressive Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner issued an interim report on Monday that, while heavily critical of his office, stopped short of recommending his removal, City & State reports. But impeachment is still on the table: A final report is set to be compiled, with recommendations included, by the end of the year.

TREE OF LIFE: Thursday marks four years since the massacre at Pittsburgh's Tree of Life synagogue. And while the white nationalist charged with the killings awaits trial in federal court, American celebrities and politicians echo talking points that have fueled antisemitism and its violence throughout history. "It's hard for me to say that we, as a country, have learned anything," author Emily Tamkin told CNN.

LOOKING UP: The grease did little to keep Phillies fans from climbing the light posts after Sunday's World Series qualifying win. What officials behind the greasing failed to realize, perhaps, is that "God is a Phillies fan."

SOUR SPORT: Speaking of Philly sports... With pickleball exploding in popularity, The Inquirer (paywall) reports a pickleball grudge match between neighbors and players is getting serious in Chestnut Hill.

TEST TIP: Epidemiologist Michael Mina says if your rapid COVID test is showing a faint control line or none at all, don't trust a negative result.

POLL WORK: Your county may be looking for poll workers for the Nov. 8 election. If you're interested, read this and apply no later than Nov. 2.

SUAVE'S STORY: Slate reports on how David Luis "Suave" Gonzalez went from a life sentence in Pennsylvania prison to winning a Pulitzer.

YOU'RE INVITED: Join us for an in-person "Meet the Reporters" event on Wednesday, Oct. 26, at 3 Dots Downtown in State College! We'll share how we find, report, and write stories. We'd also love to hear your questions and coverage ideas. RSVP for free here.
Unscramble and send your answer to scrambler@spotlightpa.org. We'll shout out winners here, and one each week will get some Spotlight PA swag. Answers submitted by 6 p.m. on issue date will be counted.

Yesterday's answer: Squeamish

Congrats to our daily winners: Chuck M., Ted W., Kimberly D., Becky C., Irene R., Patricia M., Craig W., Don H., Michelle T., Judy M., Barbara F., Hugh M., Wendy A., Kim C., Kevin M., Tracey C., Kimberly B., John F., Mike B., Joel S., Brandie K., Marty M., Elaine C., Steve D., Al M., Gina L., John A., Susan N.-Z., Alissa H., James B., Stanley J., Karen W., Craig E., Bruce B., Bill S., Dianne K., Starr B., George S., Susan D., Lex M., Cameron T., and Daniel M.
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