CHESTER COUNTY, PA. - State Senator Carolyn Comitta and state Representative Dianne Herrin met with more than 100 concerned citizens Wednesday night during a webinar that focused on climate change impacts in Pennsylvania, and the best solutions at our disposal to reverse course.
Specifically, Sen. Comitta and Rep. Herrin talked at length about their “RGGI Investments Act,” which would direct proceeds from a potential cap-and-invest carbon reduction program similar to the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) into environmental justice communities, workers affected by energy transition, and Pennsylvania’s growing clean energy sector.
This legislation is known as SB 15 in the Senate and HB 1565 in the House.
We are already experiencing significant impacts from climate change across Pennsylvania, from extreme storms and flooding to polluted air from massive wildfires. These impacts are only going to get worse if we don’t lower our carbon emissions immediately, and a program like RGGI is our best chance to do that in Pennsylvania.
Pennsylvania could join RGGI by early next year, and legislation must be in place that stipulates how and when the proceeds from a cap-and-invest program can be spent. The legislation being championed by Sen. Comitta and Rep. Herrin will help displaced workers during the transition to a clean energy economy, and it will also provide resources to environmental justice communities that have, for far too long, been disproportionately impacted by pollution.
“Pennsylvania is moving forward with RGGI and we are closer than ever before to making it a reality,” Sen. Comitta said. “That’s why we’re working to pass the RGGI Investments Act to ensure that RGGI proceeds make a strong, positive impact for environmental justice communities, workers affected by energy transition, and our growing clean energy, commercial, and industrial sectors. I want to thank state Rep. Dianne Herrin for sponsoring the bill in the House and our environmental partners, PennFuture, Conservation Voters of Pennsylvania, Clean Water Action, Clean Air Action, PennEnvironment, and the Sierra Club, for their continued support of this important legislation.”
In addition to that important bill, the two lawmakers discussed with constituents other actions they’re taking in Harrisburg to ensure residents across the Commonwealth are protected from the worsening climate crisis.
The event, cosponsored by PennFuture, Conservation Voters of Pennsylvania, PennEnvironment, Clean Air Council, Sierra Club Pennsylvania, and Clean Water Action, featured a question and answer session where residents had the chance to interact directly with their elected officials.
Additional quotes from partner organizations
“PennFuture applauds this legislation. It guarantees our most vulnerable communities and workers will receive the assistance they need to transition away from fossil fuels, all by investing proceeds from a cap-and-invest program that will help Pennsylvanian’s deal with the climate crisis,” said PennFuture President and CEO Jacquelyn Bonomo. “Most importantly, this legislation guarantees that significant investments will be made in frontline and environmental justice communities across the Commonwealth through the proposed Energy Communities Trust Fund and the Environmental Justice Communities Trust Fund, both of which will benefit residents in environmental justice communities as well as workers transitioning away from the fossil fuel industry, while simultaneously cutting greenhouse gas emissions.”
“Joining RGGI is a step in the right direction for Pennsylvania to address carbon pollution and the urgent climate crisis,” said Jen Quinn, Legislative and Political Director for Sierra Club Pennsylvania chapter. “We believe this legislation will provide much needed flexibility regarding how the RGGI proceeds are spent by ensuring that workers and communities aren’t left behind due to changes in the energy markets that are already underway, and that Pennsylvania is making much needed investments in clean energy.”
"For Pennsylvania to say it's doing all it can to tackle climate change we must make joining the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative a priority," said Steve Hvozdovich, Pennsylvania Campaigns Director, Clean Water Action. "Just as important is making sure we chart a path for using the revenue it generates in a way that uplifts Environmental Justice communities disproportionately impacted by carbon pollution, helps workers transition and invests in a clean energy future."
"We applaud Senator Comitta and Representative Herrin for showing real leadership by working to ensure all Pennsylvanians share in the benefits of RGGI participation. SB15 and HB1565 make critical investment decisions that serve a broad set of social and economic purposes, in addition to driving further emission reductions. Pennsylvania has a lot of work to do, but this legislation charts a path for the Commonwealth to recover and thrive for years to come." - Joseph Otis Minott, President, Clean Air Action Fund
“RGGI is not just good for our environment and climate, but if done right it will be good for consumers, help the most vulnerable rate payers, fund important housing and energy programs, create jobs, and protect our health," said Flora Cardoni, Field Director with PennEnvironment. "Joining our neighboring states in this alliance will also create a healthier, more vibrant region with clean air and a commitment to climate action that transcends borders.”
PennFuture is leading the transition to a clean energy economy in Pennsylvania, fighting big polluters with legal muscle, enforcing environmental laws, and supporting legislative policy that protects public health. PennFuture is engaging and educating citizens about the realities of climate change, and giving them the tools needed to influence lawmakers on the issues. Visit www.pennfuture.org for more information.
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