James Schmidt Testimony on Clean Power Plan, September 2015

On September 30, 2015, PA IPL member James A. Schmidt testified at the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection Clean Power Plan Listening Session and offered the following comments.

Secretary Quigley and Other Representatives of the Department:

I am James A. Schmid. I am a 40-year resident of Marple Township, Delaware County. I am a consulting ecologist by profession. I provide these comments on my own behalf. I am especially concerned about air quality because I suffer from asthma. When visiting my young granddaughter in Vermont this past weekend, I was impressed by the number of solar panels I observed in New England. Pennsylvania is lagging far behind.

For me cleaning up our air is important, and I am very sad to see that it is taking more than half a century to begin to regulate many kinds of emissions from coal-fired power plants under the Clean Air Act. I personally have put insulation and storm windows on my old tenant farmhouse; I use energy- efficient light bulbs and Energy Star appliances; I try to minimize my trips; I drive hybrid and all-electric vehicles; and I hope to double the installed solar panels at my home and office this year. Meanwhile, I pay extra for 100% renewable-source electricity for what I do not generate onsite. As a scientist I take most seriously the real and imminent threat global warming poses to the people, animals, and plants of this entire earth, both its lands and seas. I am encouraged to note that USEPA has made recent efforts to press the States to work for a minimum of cleaner air on behalf of my children and grandchildren.

I commend the Department for gathering public input. A strong plan to implement clean power in Pennsylvania is essential. Our Commonwealth is an enormous emitter of air pollutants, and we have a great opportunity to make constructive change. Pennsylvania can and should act to surpass the minimal requirements laid out by USEPA for clean power.

PADEP must promote the efficient use of energy by preventing its waste. It must encourage the increased use of wind and solar energy. Achieving stringent carbon emission goals is possible and will create many needed jobs for Pennsylvanians. Workers from the obsolete fossil fuel industries should be retrained as their jobs disappear. PADEP should work quickly and submit an effective plan SOON–ahead of the deadline–to curb the mass of emissions from all existing and new fossil fueled power plants, and NOT reward polluters for damaging the air which we all must breathe (especially in environmental justice communities). Generous incentives should be included to increase generation by wind and solar; existing huge coal, oil, and gas subsidies should be terminated to minimize fossil fuel use. An effective Clean Power Plan in Pennsylvania can save us taxpayers money on our taxes* and our electricity bills, as well as create jobs and increase everyone’s health. As individuals we each can do our part, but PADEP must perform its duties at the level of State government.


*In my allocated 5 minutes, I could not address the hundreds of millions of dollars of direct net loss to the Pennsylvania State Budget every year, as a result of coal mined by ever fewer Pennsylvanians. The Pennsylvania budget currently is in crisis. See McIlmoil, Rory, E. Hansen, M. Betcher, A. Hereford, and J. Clingerman. 2012. The impact of coal on the Pennsylvania State budget. Prepared for Center for Coalfield Justice. Downstream Strategies. Morgantown WV. 78 p. Similar losses are suffered by the State governments of Kentucky, West Virginia, and Tennessee.

The Department also may find useful information in Van Nostrand, James, E. Hansen, B. Argetsinger, and J. James. 2015. The Clean Power Plan and West Virginia: compliance options and new economic opportunities. West Virginia University College of Law and Downstream Strategies. Morgantown WV. 77 p. The cited documents are available online.