The Incline in Harrisburg

‘Young and naive’ climate activist Rose Strauss wants a word with Pa. Gov. Tom Wolf

“If he’s gonna co-opt the young and naive slogan, he has to represent what it stands for,” she said.

Rose Strauss, left foreground, yells questions at Gov. Wolf as he enters an event.

Rose Strauss, left foreground, yells questions at Gov. Wolf as he enters an event.

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Sarah Anne Hughes

Updated 7:20 a.m.

Rose Strauss became internet famous after Pennsylvania’s Republican candidate for governor called her “young and naive” and video of their exchange went viral.

Strauss, who is a climate activist with the Sunrise Movement, asked Scott Wagner last month if he “refused to take action” on climate change because of donations he’s accepted from the fossil fuel industry. Wagner told Strauss she was “a little young and naive,” as those gathered laughed and clapped. “Are we here to elect a governor or are we here to elect a scientist?” asked Wagner, who famously claimed the earth is warming because of body heat.

Gov. Tom Wolf’s running mate, Mayor John Fetterman, pounced on the moment, borrowing the “Young and Naive” slogan for $25 t-shirts. Wolf’s campaign also released free stickers with the phrase.

Now Strauss wants a word with Wolf.

The 18-year-old college student and a group of other activists tried to intercept the Democrat as he walked into an event last week.

“Tom Wolf! It’s Rose Strauss! It’s Rose Strauss, Tom Wolf!” she can be heard saying on video, first reported by Daily Kos. “I’m the girl who’s ‘young and naive’!” Strauss then yelled a question at Wolf about the money his campaign has accepted from the fossil fuel industry, while others asked about the controversial Mariner East pipeline.

While Wolf can tout progressive bonafides on abortion and LGBTQ rights, his administration’s stances on fracking and pipeline construction have drawn the ire of environmentalists and climate activists.

Per nonprofit Follow the Money, Wolf’s campaign accepted $98,000 from groups and individuals connected with the oil and gas industry during the 2018 election cycle. That includes $27,500 from Morgan O’Brien, president and CEO of Peoples Natural Gas, and $20,000 from energy industry vet Marsha Perelman.

Strauss said Sunrise Movement Downingtown has twice reached out to Joseph Hill, Wolf’s deputy campaign manager and political director, to request a meeting but has yet to receive a response.

That’s why they went out in person. “He has shown support for the young and naive voters,” Strauss said, but she added that while he’s “supported us verbally,” Wolf has not committed to “action on things we care about like climate change.”

Wolf’s campaign declined to say if the governor will meet with Strauss and other activists, but did send the following statement:

Governor Wolf is committed to protecting and preserving the environment. One of his first acts as governor was to sign an executive order reinstating the moratorium on new leases for drilling in state parks and forests and he has been fighting efforts by Republicans in Washington cut EPA funding. Governor Wolf worked across party lines with the state legislature, which is heavily Republican, to pass the Chapter 78a Environmental Protection Performance Standards. This bipartisan agreement modernizes and strengthens environmental protections at oil and gas sites in Pennsylvania. He also announced a nation-leading strategy to reduce emissions of methane.

Governor Wolf has met with environmentalists throughout the state to discuss ways they could work together to combat climate change and strengthen statewide regulations to ensure the protection of public health, safety, and the environment. He will continue to engage the environmental community throughout the commonwealth to ensure that their voices are heard.

Strauss said the activists want Wolf to sign a pledge that asks candidates “to not knowingly accept any contributions over $200 from the PACs, executives, or front groups of fossil fuel companies.” Fetterman signed on as a candidate for lieutenant governor. He also attended a Sunrise Movement rally in Exton last month with Strauss.

Strauss said she wants Wolf to come out against fracking and the Mariner East pipeline, which runs through 17 counties in Pennsylvania. As StateImpact reported, “the project has been plagued with numerous technical and environmental problems throughout its construction — including spills, sinkholes, and legal disputes.”

“We want to push him and make him have a better platform for the environment,” Strauss said.

“If he’s gonna co-opt the young and naive slogan,” she added, “he has to represent what it stands for.”