Philadelphia, PA (Oct. 23, 2018) – PennFuture hosted a panel discussion at the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission Conference Center in Philadelphia on Tuesday to discuss the Trump administration’s recently proposed rollbacks of environmental standards and their impact on the environment, economy, and public health.
The panel of experts examined how weaker standards pose risks to health and the climate, discussing how investments in clean energy and other innovative technologies could mitigate climate impacts.
Rob Altenburg, Director of the PennFuture Energy Center moderated the panel, which included Saleem Chapman, Deputy Director of the City of Philadelphia’s Office of Sustainability; Mollie Michel, PA Field Organizer for Moms Clean Air Force; and Dr. Walter Tsou, Executive Director of Philadelphia Physicians for Social Responsibility.
“Trump’s ‘Safer Affordable Fuel Efficient (SAFE) Vehicles’ rule, is clearly a disaster for air quality. Since it does not advance the mission of protecting the environment for which the agency was created, the EPA has shifted its focus. Our new vehicles will chug out more smog-forming pollutants, cancer-causing particulates, and greenhouse gases, but the EPA claims (with little justification) that those new dirty vehicles will be safer and cheaper,” Altenburg said. “We must do everything we can at the state level to fight this rollback, among others, to safeguard the air citizens breathe and the water they drink.”
The panelists covered a broad range of topics, reviewing how recent federal environmental rollbacks have significant impacts on Pennsylvanians’ health and our state’s environment and natural resources, as well as what work is being done at the local and state levels to address climate change and reduce carbon emissions.
“’Greenworks: A Vision for a Sustainable Philadelphia,’ set out a vision for the city where all Philadelphians efficiently use clean energy they can afford,” Chapman said. “As cities, residents, and businesses are called to exercise more leadership in the important work of being about a clean energy future, the Office of Sustainability is glad to be involved in this critical discussion. Together, we can find the solutions that best move us forward as a region.”
Dr. Tsou discussed the health impacts of the recent rollbacks.
“As a result of increasing air pollution from burning more coal and fossil fuels, these rollbacks will be deadly for some people who have respiratory illnesses. The Trump Administration should have considered the cost to human lives in their calculations for these rollbacks,” Dr. Tsou said.
“With Trump’s EPA working to roll back federal methane standards for oil and gas air pollution – among other dangerous proposals – we are at risk of losing a critical line of defense in the fight against climate change,” Michel stated. “In the absence of leadership in D.C., we are increasingly looking to our state and local leaders for climate action that will protect our children and families.”
After the panel, attendees were shown a demonstration of the National Wildlife Federation’s new interactive story map, “Unnatural Disasters: Climate Change and the Mounting Threats to People and Wildlife,” which shows where hurricanes, algal outbreaks, wildfires, droughts, and floods have hit in recent years across the United States — and demonstrates their impacts on local economies and wildlife.
In Pennsylvania, the greatest impact on the economy and wildlife in recent years came from Hurricane Irene in 2011, which caused a total of $40 billion across the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast regions of the United States and significantly affected populations of brook trout which rely on specific habitat conditions to survive.
PennFuture is leading the transition to a clean energy economy in Pennsylvania and beyond. We are protecting our air, water, and land, and empowering citizens to build sustainable communities for future generations. For more information, visit www.pennfuture.org.
Stephanie Rex, Director of Communications, PennFuture