2014 countdown: Wolf's plan for energy industry & TMI anniversary

  • Marie Cusick

Thirty-five years have passed since the nation’s worst nuclear accident– Three Mile Island. In our sixth most popular web story of 2014*, former Pennsylvania Governor Dick Thornburgh takes a look back at the lessons learned.
A big question occupies fifth place on our end-of-year countdown: how will Governor-elect Tom Wolf handle two of the most important and contentious issues in Pennsylvania– energy and the environment?
6. Three Mile Island: 35 years later

Three Mile Island was the most serious accident in U.S. commercial nuclear power plant operating history.

Joe Ulrich/ / WITF

Three Mile Island was the most serious accident in U.S. commercial nuclear power plant operating history.

On March 28th, 1979 one of the reactors at the The Three Mile Island nuclear power plant in Dauphin County partially melted down. Back then, no one knew exactly what was going to happen. The incident was unprecedented. Former governor Thornburgh says he’s still troubled the United States doesn’t have a plan about where to take its nuclear waste.
Update: The license for the still-operational Unit 1 reactor expires in 20 years. At that point, both reactors will be dismantled together, over a 10 year period. Plans call for a full restoration of the site by 2054 — 75 years after the accident.
5. What Wolf’s win means for energy and the environment
Gov.-elect Tom Wolf.

Gov.-elect Tom Wolf.

Democratic governor-elect Tom Wolf will take office in January. StateImpact Pennsylvania reporter Susan Phillips takes a look at his energy policy plans. Wolf campaigned on imposing a five percent severance tax on gas drillers. He says at current production levels this could bring in $1 billion. The gas industry– which is fighting the tax– disputes that figure. Wolf also supports continuing the moratorium on fracking in the the Delaware River Basin, and he’s expected to reinstate a Rendell-era moratorium on new leasing in state parks and forests. Unlike Corbett, Wolf acknowledges the science around man-made climate change and will be involved in crafting the federally-mandated plan to cut Pennsylvania’s greenhouse gas emissions.
Update: Wolf will be inaugurated January 20th. He’s already named two former environmental secretaries to key positions in his administration. As governor, he’ll face a more conservative state legislature; it remains to be seen how well they’ll work together.
*The countdown is based on web traffic statistics to the StateImpact Pennsylvania site.

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