[Note: This following is commentary from Molly Parzen, executive director of Conservation Voters of PA]

There will be no good environmental policy in the future, or any good policy outcomes for that matter, unless we have a strong democracy in place. Democracy helps us hold our leaders accountable and  is responsive to people’s needs. To that end, Pennsylvania has a lot of work to do, especially given some of our prominent leaders’ involvement in the January 6th insurrection to overthrow the 2020 election.

With U.S. House committee hearings investigating the attack on the Capitol underway, it’s necessary that we point out Pennsylvania’s role in the events on January 6, when far right extremists attacked our country and tried to erase the will of the American people for the first time in modern history. 78 Pennsylvanians have been charged with participating in the riot.  Our own elected officials in Pennsylvania not only helped plan and execute this attack, they also had a front row seat, as the nation watched the violence unfold. Now, they must be held accountable. 

State Senator Doug Mastriano (R-33), who is now the Republican nominee running for governor, was in Washington that day. Mastriano spent thousands of campaign dollars on charter buses to take people down to the January 6 insurrection. He then appears to have crossed police lines with rioters and entered restricted areas at the U.S. Capitol as the attack was happening. And now, he has been subpoenaed by the U.S. House for attempting to illegally overturn the 2020 presidential election.

His behavior has directly threatened our democracy. If Mastriano wins in November, he will bring his dangerous thinking to the governor’s mansion in Harrisburg. If our democracy and elections are weakened or manipulated, it impacts the ability of each of us to make our voices heard and hold our leaders accountable. Without representation, we cannot make a difference. 

Conservation Voters of PA stands up for your right to clean air, land, and water, but the only way we can stand up for the environment is by standing up for a strong democracy. We can’t do one without the other. We need leaders in  Pennsylvania that work for our families, not leaders who cater to special interests and believe baseless conspiracy theories. 

The fact is, Republicans in Congress and the state legislature tried to steal the election. 147 Republicans in Congress voted to overturn the 2020 election without a single piece of real evidence of voter fraud. 8 of those Republicans were from Pennsylvania. We deserve better from our elected officials. 

76 Republican lawmakers from Pennsylvania signed a letter to Congress opposing the presidential election results. These politicians must be held accountable for their attempting to overthrow the will of the American people. How can we trust them to defend and promote democracy when they were trying to tear it down?

This November, to support democracy, we must support the Democratic nominee for Governor, Josh Shapiro. As Attorney General, Shapiro protected voting rights in Pennsylvania when Republican-led legislatures and other special interest groups tried to prevent eligible people from voting, particularly people of color. He defended democracy. Just like he has defended the environment by holding corporate polluters accountable. 

Democracy was founded in Pennsylvania. We’re also one of the only states with a constitutionally mandated right to clean air, land, and water. I believe in our Commonwealth’s ability to be at the vanguard of both democracy and the environment. Strengthening our democracy in Pennsylvania and supporting environmentally responsible candidates will help us live up to our full potential.  When we all have a voice in our elections, we can advocate for strong environmental policies that ensure our children live in a state that has clean air, clean water and open space. And we can rest assured that the climate crisis will be addressed. 

We need local Pennsylvania leaders who support democracy, because if democracy fails here then what’s going on in D.C. will only get worse. That’s why our best choice, and frankly our only choice, in November is to support Shapiro for Governor. 

Support Shapiro. Support democracy. Support the environment.