Today, on the lawn of the Wyoming County Courthouse, Mr. Jay Sweeney of Falls Township, PA announced his candidacy for Representative in the Pennsylvania General Assembly in the 111th district. Mr. Sweeney is a member of the Green Party and has campaigned previously for this seat. In 2006 he recieved 17.5% of the vote.
Following, is his announcement speech:
I am here today to announce my campaign for State Representative in the 111th District. I am running first and foremost to protect our environment from the oil & gas industry. Our legislators and the Department of Environmental Protection have failed us.
Drilling for natural gas is not a bridge to the future, it is a shackle to the past and will delay the implementation of a true green energy policy. Water is the bridge to the future. Without it, we won’t get there. We are being asked to sacrifice our water for natural gas. Just ask the residents of Carter Road in Dimock.
The oil & gas industry has initiated a campaign to convince the public that there is a lot of misunderstanding about hydrofracking and their industry uses less water than other energy producers. In 2 years time, drilling and fracking for gas in the Marcellus Shale has resulted in unregulated water withdrawals, polluted drinking water, toxic spills, blowbacks, explosions, fish kills, injury and death to employees of the gas and oil industry. This is unacceptable! I am not opposed to people making money, but, I do believe we should protect our water at all costs. I propose a ban on fracking in the Marcellus Shale. Until we are presented with a safe means of extracting gas, I say leave it alone. I support a retroactive Severance Tax on extracted gas and oppose the use of forced pooling to allow drilling on land of those who do not wish it. I also oppose the use of eminent domain to secure pipeline passage.
Gas drilling and gambling were proposed as revenue generators for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania yet the past 2 years have seen revenue shortfalls and drastic cuts in the state budget. Unemployment is at 10%. DEP has been nearly decimated and now relies on permits from natural gas drilling for funding. This is unacceptable.
Table games have been added to casinos increasing revenue to the Commonwealth. Tax payers want to know, what happened to the property tax relief we were supposed to see?
Where is the gaming revenue going? This is unacceptable!
The efforts of the Governor and the General Assembly to create jobs and revenue have been a failure.
The General Assembly has a surplus of $300 million. This money is for the General Assembly to use at their discretion. This is unacceptable! This money should be immediately returned to the General Fund.
Farming is still the largest industry in Pennsylvania, yet our farmers struggle to make ends meet. This is unacceptable!
I propose a system of direct marketing for our farmers including providing for our schools and other institutions. Our dairy industry has dwindled over the past 20 years yet there are examples of successful operations including the Leraysville Cheese Factory and Mannings in nearby Lackawanna county. Organic food sales have increased by 20% per year for the last 20 years. There is a demand and people are willing to pay a premium. We must protect our farmland and water so our farmers can take advantage of this economic opportunity. Let’s put people to work providing wholesome, safe food.
Tourism is another major industry in trouble. Hunting, fishing, kayaking, camping, fall foliage trips and our lovely towns such as Tunkhannock are all attractions to our area yet they are in danger due to truck traffic, woodland loss and the industrialization of our area as a result of natural gas drilling. This is unacceptable!
Governor Rendell has proposed a series of new taxes on the hard working people of Pennsylvania. Meanwhile, many of the corporations operating in Pennsylvania pay no tax. This is unacceptable! I say, close the corporate tax loophole and give the residents of the Commonwealth a break.
I propose a green and sustainable vision for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. We need to implement a 21st Century energy policy based on clean energy sources. I am not talking about natural gas, nuclear or clean coal. Let’s put people to work building and installing solar, wind, hydro-electric and geothermal systems.
I propose a mass transit system to reduce some of the auto traffic and preserve our roads. We also need bike lanes on all of our roads. Let’s put people to work building and installing an efficient mass transit, bike and rail system.
I propose full funding for DEP to pre 2008 levels and a Secretary who will see that our natural resources are protected for generations yet to come.
I propose we support and encourage small scale manufacturing operations. We should be assisting these kind of manufacturers instead of trying to lure industry with Keystone Opportunity Zones, interest free loans and tax brakes. Let’s put people to work in small scale manufacturing operations.
I support Single Payer Health Care legislation for Pennsylvania such as HB 1660. Pennsylvania should opt out of the federal health care plan which is a boon to the insurance industry at the expense of the people. Let’s put people to work in a preventative, caring health system.
I support the Voters Choice Act SB 252 which would make it easier for Independent and third party candidates to get on the ballot. This bill would curtail the challenges and extortion that kept Green and Libertarian candidates for Senate and Governor off the ballot this year. Tens of thousands of voters who wanted these candidates on the ballot had the hopes dashed by the major parties.
I support medical marijuana legislation proposed by Representative Cohen and I support the exploration of hemp oil as a bio fuel.
We could have a Commonwealth were our jobs, food, energy, healthcare, travel and recreation are provided in a sustainable manner or we could continue on the path of industrialization at the expense of our quality of life. Vote for me if you prefer a sustainable future! Vote for me if you are not happy with business as usual! Vote for me if you want to keep Pennsylvania beautiful!|
After the speech Mr Sweeney took questions from the audience and was greeted with chants of “Sweeney, Sweeney”…