01/25/2018

Environment, Clean Energy and Sustainable Business Advocates Celebrate New Pennsylvania Senate Legislation to Tackle Climate Change

“Pennsylvania Climate Change Mitigation Act” introduced this week by senators Costa, Fontana and Williams 

Pittsburgh (January 25, 2018) – Environmental, business and clean energy advocates from the Clean Power PA Coalition gathered today to herald new state legislation that will reduce Pennsylvania’s emissions of carbon pollution and help tackle climate change. PennFuture, Sierra Club, PennEnvironment, Pennsylvania League of Women Voters, Sustainable Pittsburgh, Environmental Entrepreneurs (E2) and Clean Water Action, along with the City of Pittsburgh’s Chief Resilience Officer Grant Ervin, joined State Senate Democratic Leader Jay Costa (Allegheny), and State Senator Wayne Fontana (Allegheny) to announce the introduction of Senate Bill 15, the “Pennsylvania Climate Change Mitigation Act.” The legislation directs the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection to reduce statewide greenhouse gas emissions 30% by 2025, in alignment with the pollution reduction goals of the federal Clean Power Plan and the international Paris Climate Agreement. 

“When President Trump announced he was withdrawing the United States from the Paris Climate Agreement last year, he was wrong to say that he did so to represent Pittsburgh, not Paris,” said Senator Costa. “Those of us who actually represent Pittsburgh reject the president’s defeatist position and we know that taking action to ensure a healthy, safe and prosperous future by tackling climate change is actually in the best interest of our constituents. Where our federal government is failing to lead on this issue, we will do so. ”

Senator Fontana added, “Pittsburgh has made tremendous strides toward a cleaner environment and a vibrant, thriving high-tech economy, including exciting developments in advanced energy. If we want to continue this progress, we must take action to reduce the pollution driving climate change. I am confident that Pennsylvania can create a plan to reduce carbon pollution that will make us proud in Pittsburgh and benefit residents across the Commonwealth.” 

The Pennsylvania Climate Change Mitigation Act instructs PADEP to revisit the state plan originally being developed to comply with the carbon pollution reduction targets of the Clean Power Plan and submit to the General Assembly for approval and implementation. The legislation does not prescribe a particular approach, but rather allows the Commonwealth to determine the lowest-cost and most efficient policies to meet the emission reduction goals.   The framework for the legislation will also keep Pennsylvania working toward the goal of fighting climate change under the Paris agreement, an international accord to limit global temperature rise. 

“This bill is the first effort to set a reasonable carbon reduction goal in Pennsylvania and allow more innovative, low and zero-carbon energy sources to grow, create jobs, and reduce pollution in our communities,” said PennFuture President and CEO Jacquelyn Bonomo. “I commend the senators for their leadership and commitment to a carbon-free future.

Pennsylvania ranks third among states for the emission of carbon pollution, a distinction that poses a significant responsibility upon the Commonwealth to take action that will mitigate climate change. The most recent Pennsylvania Climate Impacts Assessment finds that the Commonwealth also faces significant environmental, public health and economic harms as a result of climate change, and that those negative impacts are already underway. In order to blunt the worst impacts of climate change upon future generations of Pennsylvanians, carbon pollution must be cut quickly and dramatically. 

“Addressing and avoiding the threats posed by climate disruption is critical, but this legislation is also about creating opportunity in Pennsylvania,” said Joanne Kilgour, Director of Sierra Club’s Pennsylvania Chapter. “Reducing and ultimately eliminating climate disrupting pollution will require huge amounts of investment in the form of research, technology development, manufacturing, construction, and installation – nothing short of the next industrial revolution. The question is, will Pennsylvania be at the forefront of this new economy, or will we be left behind clinging to the old one?”

The Pennsylvania Climate Change Mitigation Act would build upon progress already underway in Pennsylvania to grow and expand a clean energy economy focused on renewable energy and energy efficiency. The 2017 Clean Jobs Pennsylvania report issued by Environmental Entrepreneurs (E2) and the Keystone Energy Efficiency Alliance (KEEA) shows that there are nearly 70,000 clean energy jobs in Pennsylvania in more than 6,000 companies, with a 6 percent growth rate in clean energy jobs between 2016 and 2017. There are twice as many energy efficiency and renewable energy jobs in Pennsylvania as fossil fuel jobs and Allegheny County ranks first in Pennsylvania for clean energy employment, with 8,100 jobs. Stronger clean energy policies would drive even more job creation and business investment in Pennsylvania. 

Court Gould, Executive Director of Sustainable Pittsburgh remarked, “The business community, including the companies with whom we work here in the Pittsburgh region, view tackling climate change as an opportunity to foster innovation and responsible economic growth. Climate change exacerbates both risk and uncertainty, which smart business leaders are looking to mitigate in order to ensure the long-term prosperity of their companies and to meet expectations of investors and customers. This legislation is an important policy signal that will help to coalesce our economic, environmental and social equity efforts and forge a more sustainable southwestern Pennsylvania region.” 

Under the leadership of Mayor Bill Peduto, the City of Pittsburgh is committed to following the Clean Power Plan and Paris agreement emission reduction goals. Pittsburgh is joined by mayors and cities across Pennsylvania, from Philadelphia to Lancaster to Allentown, who have affirmed their commitment to the Paris agreement goals despite the Trump Administration’s intent to withdraw the United States from the international accord. 

Announced in 2015, the United States Clean Power Plan was the nation’s first plan to set limits on carbon emissions from our country’s power plants. Each state was directed to meet carbon emission reduction targets, and Pennsylvania was working toward meeting its target before the plan was halted by court action. President Trump has taken a series of actions to roll back the Clean Power Plan, and his proposed 2018 federal budget completely defunds the plan. 

The Clean Power PA Coalition is a group of clean energy, business, faith, and community leaders committed to protecting Pennsylvania’s environment and powering its economy through clean energy. The coalition includes the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), PennFuture, Clean Air Council, Moms Clean Air Force, Penn Environment, NextGen Climate America, Conservation Voters of PA, Clean Water Action, Voces Verdes,  Sierra Club, the Union of Concerned Scientists, Audubon Pennsylvania, Physicians for Social Responsibility-Philadelphia , Climate Parents, Partnership for Policy Integrity, Pennsylvania Interfaith Power & Light, Mid-Atlantic Renewable Energy Association, Sustainable Business Network of Greater Philadelphia, Sustainable Pittsburgh and Environmental Entrepreneurs (E2). For more information: www.cleanpowerpa.org.

Contact:

Stephanie Rex

Director of Communications, PennFuture

412.463.2942

rex@pennfuture.org