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|Fracking future, SCOTUS option, on appeal, veto penned, public defense, Baer's funeral, and Pa.'s role in a fishing scandal. It's Tuesday.|
Pennsylvania is one of the largest fossil fuel producing states in the U.S, and it's normally not a question of whether a candidate for statewide office here is supportive of the oil and gas industry but rather to what extent.
The ongoing race for Pennsylvania governor is no exception.
Focusing on the top two candidates for the office: Democrat Josh Shapiro supports further regulation of the fracking industry, expanded "no-drill" zones, and disclosures of fracking chemicals before they're used.
Republican Doug Mastriano, meanwhile, wants to deregulate the state's fossil fuel industries, expand drilling into state parks and forests, and generally make it easier for oil, gas, and coal companies to dig for resources here.
Read Spotlight PA's full guide: Where the candidates for governor Mastriano, Shapiro stand on energy and the environment
THE CONTEXT: Mastriano has called climate change an academic fabrication, while Shapiro has called it an "existential threat."
But Shapiro has expressed doubts about Pennsylvania's entry into the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), a cornerstone of outgoing Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf's plan to combat climate change.
Shapiro has yet to commit to staying in the program — which caps greenhouse gas emissions from power plants — saying he wants to further investigate the economic impacts before deciding.
Mastriano has vocally criticized RGGI and warned the rules would drive employers out of Pennsylvania and into other states.
The Department of Environmental Protection predicts the program will create over 30,000 jobs, and anticipates it will decrease coal generation. The coal industry employs over 10,000 workers, per the DEP. One study of RGGI states found increased economic activity and job growth.
|NOTABLE / QUOTABLE|
"We are reviewing today's decision and are disappointed by the outcome..."
—Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney's office after a city judge on Monday blocked a ban on guns at city recreation centers, playgrounds, and pools
|The fall foliage, as seen in Elk County by me over the weekend. Send us your photos, use #PAGems on Instagram, or tag us @spotlightpennsylvania.|
|CHALLENGE REJECTED: The U.S. Supreme Court will not take up a GOP-led appeal challenging the Pennsylvania Supreme Court's adoption of a new congressional map favored by Democrats, per Reuters. The challenge, led by former GOP U.S. Rep. Ryan Costello, cited a fringe reading of the U.S. Constitution that backers say limits the ability of state courts to choose federal election maps.|
BALLOT CURES: Republican groups are appealing last week's decision by a Commonwealth Court judge allowing Pennsylvania counties to notify voters of errors on mail ballots, like missing signatures, so they can be fixed and the ballots counted, The Inquirer (paywall) reports. The judge said nothing in state law bars the practice. Opponents say rules vary by county and that's a problem.
SWING SURVEYS: Votebeat reports election-denying allies of former President Donald Trump have interviewed or attempted to interview hundreds of election officials in swing states like Pennsylvania in the run-up to November's midterms, noting the questions they provided "appear intended to detect potential weaknesses in local election systems and gather detailed information about how elections are run."
WOLF VETO: Gov. Tom Wolf has vetoed a bill that would have delayed parole eligibility for people convicted of violent crimes in Pennsylvania, saying the measure proposes an "ineffective structure of mandatory parole denial" or "a mandatory minimum by another name," per Capitolwire (paywall). State Rep. Aaron Bernstine (R., Beaver) sponsored the bill and called it "commonsense legislation."
LEGAL FUNDS: Pennsylvania is the only U.S. state that does not directly fund public defenders, leaving it instead to counties. Observers say the result has been wide disparities in the quality of legal services or "justice by geography," per Sara Jacobson, executive director of the Public Defender Association of Pennsylvania. Now, TribLIVE says a measure to set standards and fill gaps has passed its first hurdle.
FISHING SCANDAL: Hermitage angler Chase Cominsky was at the center of a cheating scandal that rocked the professional fishing world and drew national headlines over the weekend. Cominsky and a teammate are accused of hiding weights in their catches to fool the judges, per The Herald.
BUG BRAIN: Saturday Night Live offers a glimpse into the mind of a spotted lanternfly, played by Bowen Yang, that is entirely unfazed by our collective disdain and its "most hated" status. "I’m just trying to live my life, find a mate, and have three to four thousand babies," Bowen's bug explains.
COP LAND: For years, if Philadelphia police were unable to record a precise location for a crime committed in the city, they'd simply use GPS coordinates for Disney World, NBC10 reports. The practice, which experts called problematic, reportedly stopped after NBC10 started asking questions.
FOUR BEARS: A Pocono Lake Ring camera caught a quartet of bears — mom and three cubs — breaking into John Costanzo's home through a window before ransacking his fridge, per ABC7. The bears came back the next day, but Costanzo was ready and had the window locked.
STORM WALK: Hurricane Ian's remnants hit the Jersey Shore on Monday. But Josephine Spitalieri — grandmother to a member of our Spotlight PA team — refused to let that stop her morning walk, telling WPVI: "My husband says, 'Are you crazy? You're going out?' I say, 'Yes, but I'm going.'"
On a serious note: If you're in a position to donate to Ian and Hurricane Fiona relief efforts, find more information on doing so here and here.
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