Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative: Public Testimonies

How RGGI and Pennsylvania’s Carbon Budget Program work to reduce carbon pollutants that contribute to climate change:

  • RGGI is a multi-state, market-driven program for CO2 emissions from the electric power sector, implemented by a bipartisan group of governors.  It stretches across 10 states from Maine to Maryland, with Virginia and Pennsylvania now getting on board.
  • Under RGGI, the participating states agree on a regional limit on the carbon pollution that power plants can emit. Each state creates its own program for implementing the agreement.
  • Large carbon-emitting power plants purchase allowances equal to their CO2 emissions and can buy, sell, or trade carbon allowances within the overall cap.

In other words, power plants must pay for the dirty carbon pollution they cause, so they have an incentive to lower their emissions. If power plants reduce their emissions below their allowance, they can bank those allowances for use in the future, or sell allowances to other power plants, which creates more incentive for power plants to invest in ways to reduce their carbon emissions further.

The purchase of the allowances generates funds – as high as $300 million in a year – that could be used to support energy efficiency and renewable energy to further reduce air pollution in the state, and to help low-income consumers as well as communities that are transitioning away from fossil fuels.

PA IPL members, faith leaders, and advocates of climate justice from across the state have already taken a stance and testified, written in our local papers, and signed petitions.

Read the public testimonies of PA IPL’s Executive Director and advocates of climate justice. As we receive more testimonies, we will continue adding them to our website. If you or anyone you know would like to submit their public testimony, please email us.

January 2021 Newsletter: IPL Short Film – Unbreathable: The Fight For Healthy Air

Join IPL on January 19, 2021 at 6:30pm EST for a free screening of the short film Unbreathable immediately followed by the webinar, Unbreathable No More: The EPA and Clean Air in 2021.

Register here.

Unbreathable: The Fight for Healthy Air is a timely, powerful look at fifty years of the Clean Air Act and the challenges we still face to ensure healthy air for everyone. 

Unbreathable No More: The EPA and clean air in 2021:
After the film, Interfaith Power & Light President Rev. Susan Hendershot will speak with one the newest IPL board members, Rev. Melanie Mullen, Director of Reconciliation, Justice, and Creation Care in the office of the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church. IPL National Organizing Director, Bill Bradlee, will also address IPL priorities for EPA advocacy in the coming year, focusing on clean cars and methane pollution.

January 2021-PA IPL Announcements

PA IPL Statewide Monthly Meetings

Starting this month PA IPL will hold a regular Statewide Meeting on the 3rd Mondays of the month at 7pm via Zoom. If you would like to join us for this meeting to discuss PA IPL business, Climate Justice, and enjoy a regular lineup of programming please sign up here. You are still welcome to attend your local chapter meetings as well. Visit our meeting page on our website and Facebook page for programming details posted each month.

Julia Morgan Fund

PA IPL has been selected as a recipient of a grant from the Julia Morgan Fund in order to continue our work with the Germantown Tree Tenders and the Mastery Charter School Pickett Campus. We thank the Julia Morgan Fund and FUMCOG (First United Methodist Church of Germantown) for their ongoing support for Climate Justice and the work of PA IPL.

If you, your congregation, or chapter are aware of funding opportunities, or would like to apply for funding collaboratively, please contact us.

Sips of Sustenance

Due to the increase of PA IPL programming and initiatives, beginning this month, the twice weekly Sips of Sustenance emails will only be sent out once a week each Sunday. We appreciate all of your feedback and contributions to this work and hope the community continues to send us notes and quotes to use in these Sips. We will use the time to provide ongoing support for PA IPL chapters and congregations as well as to organize and write more Letters to the Editor, OpEds, Sermons, and workshop programs. 

January 2021 Newsletter-Creation Care

After planting 1,000 trees last year in Central PA, due to the hard work of PA IPL Board member Greg Williams, and many dedicated stewards of creation across the state, this year PA IPL will receive and plant or distribute 10,000 native trees from the Chesapeake Bay Fund!

This year our Creation Care program will expand the scope of our work in Northeast PA and North Central PA. In addition to our original site in Williamsburg, we will have new distribution centers in Scranton and Lewisburg. 

We are actively looking for volunteers to participate in planting events and the removal of invasive species across the state. If you are interested in volunteering or can help in identifying additional sites, please sign up here. Trees will be delivered to the three centers in April and the planting season will go through June but other work is always available year round. 

If you are also interested in accepting trees yourself, we will have a limited number of unreserved trees available. All trees are distributed on a first-come-first-serve basis and we cannot guarantee specific species. please register here. 

This expansion will also result in greater expenses for PA IPL, any donations to support this important work would be appreciated.

January 2021 Newsletter: The Year Ahead – Tending the Garden with PA IPL

PA IPL has many amazing programs for the year ahead. Many of our statewide initiatives are outlined below but we value and need your participation. In addition to the plan outlined here, we hope to hear more from you about the work you are doing to be stewards of creation and the ideas you have for new local and statewide programs. We want you to know you have a seat at the table and we will work together to pursue the topics and programs of greatest interest to you.

Email us about any events you or your congregation/chapter may be organizing. If your congregation or organization has not yet signed our Climate Justice Covenant or become an institutional member, and you think they may be interested in doing so, please reach out directly to PA IPL’s Executive Director, David Heayn-Menendez.

Please also send us any images of the work you are engaged in and the beauty of creation around you. Also, let us know your ideas and proposals. The better connected and coordinated we are the greater fruit our garden will yield. 

Be sure to follow us on Facebook and Instagram!

PA IPL 2021 Programs:
Creation Care
Sustained Advocacy: Calls, Summaries, Actions
Education: Webinars, Workshops, Films
Resources and Presentations from PA IPL and our Network
Spiritual Care
PA IPL Toolkit
PA IPL Chapter Meetings
Annual Conference
Annual Advocacy Bike Ride

To support these initiatives Donate Today!

RGGI Testimony-Pam Kosty, Advocate for Climate Justice and Supporter of PA IPL

On behalf of the Environmental Justice Team of the Main Line Unitarian Church, Devon, PA

Thank you for the chance to provide my perspective on Pennsylvania’s opportunity to join the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI)—and thereby join a growing consortium of states determined to be part of a solution to the Climate Change crisis that faces our state, our country, and our planet.

I come to this meeting to provide testimony as a citizen of Pennsylvania, a daughter, mother, aunt, sister, wife, and friend. I speak on behalf of the Environmental Justice team of the Main Line Unitarian Church, supported by UUJusticePA and a growing group of faith-based organizations that are part of Pennsylvania Interfaith Power and Light. As an environmental advocate, I’ve spent a good deal of time reading and learning about our current climate crisis, about pollution in our air and water, about RGGI: its formation, goals, and early successes in the states that have signed on. We are fortunate to have a lot of scientific and economic evidence in hand from states who have been early leaders in RGGI, where progress to reduce destructive emissions has been made and economies have actually been strengthened. I trust that many people will share those details in upcoming testimony.

The primary testimony I want to provide here is the moral, faith-based voice, which is growing in this state and across this country. This voice demands that we look at the dire environmental situation we face—one that human beings have wittingly and unwittingly had a big hand in creating. It demands that we acknowledge where we are, the consequences we are already seeing across this planet, and the harsh reality that our children, grandchildren, and generations that follow will increasingly bear, if we do nothing. It is a voice that calls us all to action.

I’ll be honest, I don’t really want to co-chair my church’s Environmental Justice team, I would rather be out biking. But I cannot bear witness to the degradation of this planet, to the disproportionate suffering that pollution and climate change especially cause poor and disenfranchised people, and look away. Genuine faith, in whatever place we find it, calls us to bear witness, and to act with and for each other—while there is still time.

So why are we even here, weighing the sides of positive action and inaction? For too long, we’ve framed this issue as one of either/or: either we have Environmental Justice, or we have Jobs for Pennsylvanians. I’ve seen it in action in Harrisburg, when, after a rally I attended with environmentalists, I watched as a group of men rallied to stop our “agenda” and keep their jobs. And I feel for these men—and for their wives and children, their fears and hopes for a good life.

As a Unitarian, I study the wisdom of many religious traditions. The Buddhists have a term, Right Livelihood. It means, meaningful work with minimal harm to others. Once upon a time we may have believed that work in coal, oil and gas was Right Livelihood, but we know too much about the pollution caused to workers and neighboring communities, and greenhouse gas emissions that are affecting the entire planet, to believe that anymore. As people of faith, we cannot pretend. We need to act to make changes, with courage and with compassion. We need the best of the polarities, Environmental Justice AND Meaningful Livelihoods, and we need to bring all our resources to bear as we transition to a just future economy, one where government, businesses, and our educational system, work together for all.

The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative isn’t a solution, but it’s a great step towards the emissions drawdown that we owe to our loved ones and to future generations. Thankfully, we already know it works: nine other states have joined since 2009, enjoying economic growth, not loss, outpacing the rest of the US by 31%, while carbon emissions by their power plants have fallen by 47%. Those states are looking to the future we all deserve to have, where polluters, not citizens, pay their fair share, and green energy businesses get a leg up.

Imagine a Pennsylvania where we focus on jobs for the future—not the past—and prioritize the health of our children and generations to come. Let’s do more than imagine, let’s all do our part to make it happen.  Thank you.

RGGI Testimony-Phyllis Blumberg, Advocate for Climate Justice and Supporter of PA IPL

 I care deeply about combating climate change and the evidence from other states indicates that RGGI will help us do that in PA also. I am  writing as a concerned citizen who has seen the effects of severe weather and increasing respiratory problems in my family and neighborhood. My Jewish faith also compels me to act.

As a concerned citizen who wants to a healthy and safe environment not only for my children and grandchild, but for all people who are living now and not yet born, I prioritize protecting the environment and averting the effects of climate change over my own personal comfort and the desire to pay less money.

I personally invested in clean energy in my own lifestyle. Over ten years ago I retrofitted my 90 year- old house that had natural gas heat  to have geothermal HVAC just at the time when fracking caused the price of natural gas to sink. Two years ago I had solar panels installed on my roof and last year I bought a totally electric car. I did not make these changes to save money, but rather to save the environment and to protect the health for future generations.  Even if every American were to invest in clean energy, and I realized that many cannot afford to do so, yet it still would not be enough.  We need strong leadership from the PA government to move us to transition to a renewable and healthy future.

Pennsylvania  is one of the dirtiest power sectors in the nation. We  must  change that course and start reducing our carbon pollution. Joining RGGI will make our Commonwealth cleaner, more prosperous, and offer a better future for all. In addition to its climate and public health benefits, estimates show that RGGI would generate a net increase of many clean energy jobs and it will add billions to the state’s economy by 2030.  These funds can be used to improve the living conditions in underserved communities and communities of color in Pennsylvania  that need the help the most. By putting a price tag on pollution, RGGI incentivizes energy producers to turn away from fossil fuels, cut carbon, and create investments in clean energy.

It is concerned citizens like me and 90% of the citizens of PA who want clean air and to protect the environment. Only profit-hungry, polluting industry insiders who want to keep things as they are now because they stand to benefit from doing so, at a cost to all of us.

Ten other states are already been reaping the benefits of joining RGGI, and Pennsylvania can’t get left behind.  It’s time for Pennsylvania to tap into this record of success, invest in sustainable jobs in our flourishing clean energy sector, and reduce our carbon pollution.

In conclusion, I am testifying to explicitly state my support  for Pennsylvania joining of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative.  All the benefits I am advocating for are the direct result of PA joining RGGI!