EXPLAINER | Gov. Tom Wolf
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Gov. Tom Wolf

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Tom Wolf is the 47th governor of Pennsylvania. The Democrat easily defeated unpopular Republican Tom Corbett in the November 2014 election and won re-election against challenger Scott Wagner in 2018.

Wolf had never held elected office before becoming governor. He ran his family’s York County kitchen cabinet business for years.

He is the first person to defeat a sitting governor since the state constitution was changed in 1968, allowing governors to serve two terms. The wealthy businessman donated $10 million to his own campaign, allowing him to launch a slew of folksy TV commercials early on, which resonated with voters.

Over the years he’s been a major contributor to the Democratic party. After giving more than $200,000 to former Governor Ed Rendell, he was appointed state revenue secretary in 2007.

A central part of Wolf’s gubernatorial campaign focused on criticizing the way his predecessor handled Marcellus Shale gas development. Wolf pledged to do away with the current Marcellus Shale impact fee and enact a five percent severance tax on the gas industry, but that hasn’t happened — and if the state does adopt such a tax, it likely will be different than what Wolf proposed.

In early 2016, Wolf came under criticism from environmental advocates for what they say is a lack of action on issues such as climate change. Wolf cites a package of stronger regulations for Marcellus Shale gas drillers and a ban on further leasing of state park and forest land for oil and gas development as evidence he is getting things done despite a Republican-controlled Legislature.

Latest stories


Updated: July 14, 2020 | 5:58 pm

Wolf, legislature draw closer to more tax breaks for the natural gas industry

The compromise measure lowers the size of the tax break from more than $1 billion to $670 million over 25 years.

By Rachel McDevitt

House committee takes first step to block Pa.’s entry into regional cap-and-trade program

The bill would bar the Department of Environmental Protection from taking any action that is designed to control carbon dioxide emissions, including participation in a regional greenhouse gas cap-and-trade program such as RGGI, unless the action is authorized by the General Assembly.  

By Rachel McDevitt

DEP stood to gain new staffers, but now faces flat funding to start next fiscal year

Governor Tom Wolf’s proposed budget included $5 million to hire more staff at DEP and DCNR.  

By Rachel McDevitt

Gov. Wolf vetoes bill that would halt new regulations during pandemic

The Democratic governor said the prohibition, in a bill passed along party lines by the GOP-led legislature, would violate the separation of powers between the legislative and executive branches, and would halt an essential government operation.

By Rachel McDevitt

Updated: March 27, 2020 | 5:25 pm

Wolf vetoes natural gas tax-break bill

Proponents: Economic impact of new coronavirus pandemic should boost efforts to override veto
By Susan Phillips

Owners of Pa.’s Beaver Valley nuclear power station will keep it open because of state’s climate plan

New owners say they won't close the plant, as long as cap-and-trade plan goes through
By Reid Frazier


Some lawmakers think they can override Wolf’s veto on manufacturing tax break bill

Overrides are rare, and can only happen when two-thirds of the legislature are willing to support a bill against the governor’s explicit wishes. The last one happened a decade ago.

By Katie Meyer

Updated: February 5, 2020 | 9:02 am

Gov. Wolf’s budget proposes boosting staff at Pa.’s departments of environmental protection, and conservation and natural resources

In annual budget address, Wolf talked about need for pipeline reform
By Susan Phillips

Updated: February 3, 2020 | 12:29 pm

Wolf’s support for petrochemicals raises climate worries as Pennsylvania tries to cut carbon emissions

In his second term, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf has set ambitious climate goals for the state. But he’s also walked a tightrope on climate, as he has embraced the fossil fuel jobs of the natural gas industry, and big carbon-emitting projects like the Shell Ethane Cracker in Beaver County.

By Reid Frazier
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