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A Plan for a Prosperous Pennsylvania

john-luanne.jpgJohn has consistently worked hard and effectively to provide opportunities for working families to thrive and help them achieve success. John gets things done. John’s life and career have prepared him to lead Pennsylvania by championing public education, a growing economy, clean energy and a quality environment.

John is married to Luanne Thorndyke. Luanne and John have been married for 33 years. Luanne is a physician, who is board certified in Internal Medicine and Geriatric medicine, and a medical educator.

View John's Bio

A proven leader

John has spent 28 years growing Pennsylvania’s economy and fighting for working families. A proven leader and nationally-recognized expert on energy, utilities, the green economy and the environment, John Hanger’s life and career have prepared him to lead Pennsylvania and create good jobs. 

  • During John’s successful career he:
    • Fought to keep utility rates down and to protect consumers as a commissioner on the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission;
    • Ended electric generation monopolies and saved Pennsylvania households and businesses billions of dollars;
    • Helped to build a renewable energy industry in Pennsylvania that brought more than $4 billion of private investment and thousands of jobs. His work made possible 25 wind farms now operating in Pennsylvania that produce enough electricity to power a quarter of a million homes and no pollution;
    • Led, with others, the campaign to pass the largest investment in history in Pennsylvania’s environment – the $626 million Growing Greener bond;
    • Worked with Democrats and Republicans to pass an energy savings bill that provided $2 billion for energy conservation in homes and businesses; launched the $100 million Pennsylvania Sunshine Program; and helped to bring more than 6,000 solar energy power plants to roofs and fields across the state;
    • Strengthened and modernized the laws to regulate gas drilling by enacting 5 new rules; and,
    • More than doubled the environmental cops on the beat overseeing gas drilling.
    • Served as the Public Advocate for Philadelphia Gas and Water Customers that represented 500,000 utility consumers and battled rate increases;


Tough and Pragmatic – John Gets Things Done.

John has consistently worked hard and effectively to provide opportunities for working families to thrive and help them achieve success. John gets things done. John’s life and career have prepared him to lead Pennsylvania by championing public education, a growing economy, clean energy and a quality environment.

  • Education, Hard Work– the American Dream

    Born in Nairobi, Kenya John Hanger came to America in 1970 after having lived in Ireland. He became an American citizen in 1977 and embarked on a career working to ensure that all families have the opportunity to achieve the American Dream of getting a good education and good family-sustaining jobs.

    John understands how Important public education is to middle class families that want to provide opportunities for their children to succeed. He attended public schools, Duke University where he majored in public policy and history and needed federal student loans to complete law school. After he graduated from college, John married Luanne Thorndyke who was studying to be a doctor. John and Luanne for have been married for 33 years.

    In 1981, John came to Pennsylvania to attend law school at the University of Pennsylvania. After earning his law degree, John joined Community Legal Services in Philadelphia, where he also served as the Public Advocate for Philadelphia Gas and Water to battle rate increases.

    His effective representation of consumers and his growing expertise in utility issues earned him notice and he became an attorney at the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission. While on the PUC staff, John established a reputation as a reformer, fighter for consumers and a skilled advocate for keeping utility rates down. Those were goals and values that Governor Robert Casey shared, and he appointed John as a PUC commissioner in 1993.


  • Working Hard for Working Families

    In his role as a PUC commissioner, John continued to be a strong voice for consumer protection. At the time, Pennsylvania electricity rates were well above the national average with residential rates in the Pittsburgh and Philadelphia regions sometimes among the nation’s 10 highest. Those high rates damaged consumers and Pennsylvania’s economy. John saw they were unnecessary and their root cause was the monopoly stranglehold that the utilities had on their customers. Utilities could make unwise investments, run inefficient power plants and provide sub-par customer service and pass on all the costs to their captive ratepayers.

    John determined to break the utility monopolies and worked with legislators of both parties to pass the Electricity Generation Customer Choice and Competition Act in 1996. The law opened up the sale of electricity to a competitive marketplace and put in place solid protections for consumers, including capping rates for as long as 14 years. As a result, all Pennsylvania electricity customers have saved billions of dollars, a renewable energy industry power by the wind and the sun took root and grew and power plants have become more efficient.


  • Clean Energy, Clean Environment, A Growing Economy

    In 1998, John became the founding president of Citizens for Pennsylvania’s Future (PennFuture) a private public interest group working to improve our environment and economy. He set about changing the widely-held and oft repeated myth that we can’t have both a good environment and a good economy. John clearly saw that environmental quality and economic prosperity were dependent on each other – you cannot grow an economy on the barren soil of a degraded environment. Based on that fundamental principle, John led campaigns to enact legislation that both cleaned the water and air and created jobs. In 2004, his work was instrumental in the passage of the Alternative Energy Portfolio Standards Act in 2004 which created a robust renewable energy industry in Pennsylvania and created more than 4,000 new jobs. The following year, John and others led a campaign for conservation funding that gained overwhelming voter approval for the largest investment in environmental conservation and restoration in the state’s history – the $625 million Growing Greener bond.

  • Marcellus Shale Natural Gas, Energy Independence & Climate Change

    In 2008, Governor Edward Rendell nominated John to be the secretary of the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). As he took office, he modernized and strengthened oversight of Marcellus shale gas drilling with the goals of safely developing the rich gas resource and protecting Pennsylvania’s water. He stopped drillers from dumping their wastewater in state streams; he doubled DEP’s enforcement staff dedicated to policing the gas drillers issuing 1200 notices of violation in 2010, and; he put in place a rule that keeps all development away from the banks of our best rivers and streams. All told John enacted five new regulations, including chemical disclosure requirements and a major drilling fee increase that paid for doubling the enforcement staff. Also John did not hesitate to side with families who had their property damaged by gas drilling.

    Increased gas production made possible by the safe development of the Marcellus shale gas has produced thousands of jobs and saved natural gas consumers about $1000 per year compared to 2008 prices. It also reduced electricity prices significantly for Pennsylvania's families and businesses.

    At the direction of the state legislature that passed Act 70, John led a stakeholder process that produced a state action plan to reduce carbon emission, while lowering costs and creating jobs. The plan identifies 52 actions that will cut Pennsylvania’s carbon dioxide pollution by 30 percent by 2050 and, at the same time, will create 65,000 new full-time jobs and add $6 billion to the state’s economy. John set about implementing some of the top priority carbon-cutting, job-producing programs by supporting and promoting energy efficiency, the $100 million Pennsylvania Sunshine Program, our bio-diesel manufacturers, electric vehicle recharge stations and the construction of wind energy projects.

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