Pa. gubernatorial hopeful speaks for natural gas advocates in Harrisburg

 York County Sen. Scott Wagner, who is seeking the Republican nomination to run for governor in Pennsylvania, spoke at a gathering of natural gas-drilling advocates Monday.(AP Photo/Marc Levy)

York County Sen. Scott Wagner, who is seeking the Republican nomination to run for governor in Pennsylvania, spoke at a gathering of natural gas-drilling advocates Monday.(AP Photo/Marc Levy)

More than a dozen county commissioners from Pennsylvania’s northern tier are working to organize around an issue that directly affects their constituents: natural gas drilling.

Organizers said Harrisburg often neglects the interests of its more far-flung counties. They described their keynote speaker as someone who’s gone against that trend— York County Republican senator and gubernatorial hopeful, Scott Wagner, has supported natural gas drilling since he was elected.

Wagner noted repeatedly that it wasn’t a campaign event, though that didn’t stop a few speakers from remarking that it would be nice to have a governor who would reduce regulations on the gas industry.

Amid his calls to get pipelines flowing, Wagner did take the opportunity to lay out some policy proposals — and try out some catchphrases.

“There’s a huge difference between an active environmentalist and an environmental activist,” he said, using a line he reiterated multiple times. “I love the outdoors, I grew up around the outdoors, I love fishing — I am in favor of drilling on state lands.”

This year, the commonwealth is expecting about $80 million in royalties from drilling in state forests.Wagner said he thinks there are too many redundant restrictions on the oil and gas industry that he should be studied and pared down — a popular position among the rural county commissioners

He also took the stance that climate change is probably happening, though — citing scientifically unsound evidence — he maintained that the U.S. shouldn’t worry too much about emissions.

Bradford County Commissioner Doug McLinko said Wagner has been a great help in efforts to organize various rural counties, noting that the senator has always been eager to visit the northern tier and see the drilling and its impact for himself.

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