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.

Climate Disruption is a Moral Issue: Interfaith Climate Advocacy Training (HARRISBURG)

Climate Disruption is a Moral Issue
Interfaith Climate Advocacy Training

August 26, 2015

9:30am to 4:30pm
A day of preparation for people of all faiths
Learn how to speak with moral authority on the issue of
climate change in Pennsylvania

Interfaith Climate Advocacy Workshop

Download a flyer to spread the word: ClimateDisruption (2)

Join us to develop clear messages to bring directly to policymakers to support ambitious,
legally-binding targets for carbon dioxide and methane emissions, energy efficiency
and a just transition to renewable power

Workshop Leaders:

Hosted by the Unitarian Church of Harrisburg, at its 1280 Clover Lane location

People of faith possess the moral authority to be important and credible voices,  awakening awareness and responsibility for bold climate action among elected leaders and non-elected policy makers.

We seek to prepare people of faith who are willing to pro-actively initiate meetings with policymakers, electoral candidates and other religious leaders to lift up the moral dimensions of this crisis and support effective and rapid transition plans for a just, clean energy future in Pennsylvania and the nation.    Click through to REGISTER.

LUNCH and SNACKS are provided. 
Please bring a mug or water bottle for your drinks.
DISCOUNTS for people signing up as a small group from the same faith community or ministerium

Sponsored by:

EcoJusticeWorkingGroup.PYM.logo    image1356

Bike Blog 2014.6

Guest blogger: Janet Swim00stairs

After a rejuvenating night’s rest, most of us assembled for breakfast in Carolyn Serfass’s dining room to strategize our upcoming meetings with 14 Pennsylvania representatives. We reviewed the impressive intelligence Cricket provided, including the environmental voting record for each representative we would be meeting. Our planning was buttressed by news in the Washington Post of the National Climate Assessment, a report that documented current effects of climate change and concrete actions needed to address climate change.00waiting1

With this fortification we strode to the legislative Continue reading Bike Blog 2014.6

Bike Blog 2014.5

blogger: Jon Brockopp

made it to DC!We made it! We all arrived yesterday in Washington safe and sound. So many things can go wrong on a trip like this, but other than a few flat tires and a bit of rain, we had great luck.

Our trip began with a gourmet breakfast of eggs benedict, asparagus and French toast, cooked by Joyce and Dave – thanks so much to them Continue reading Bike Blog 2014.5

Let me be blunt.

Cherie Eicholz and Dr. Poune Saberi from Physicians for Social Responsibility with PA IPL board member Rev. Doug Hunt, and Senator Bob Casey at a Keystone Coffee.

Dear Administrator McCarthy,

As a person of faith, I am greatly concerned about climate change. All levels of government must act quickly to limit industrial carbon pollution.

Climate change is already becoming apparent in Pennsylvania, the country, and the world. As it unfolds, it will hurt first and worst those least able to get out of harm’s way—the poor, the old, the young, and the ill. Thus, we have a moral responsibility to take serious action to slow climate change.

To this end, I support EPA’s proposed standard to limit industrial carbon pollution from new power plants, and I urge you to finalize the rule quickly without weakening it in any way.


The message couldn’t be more direct.  We have no business building new power plants that emit more pollution than the average current plant.   The proposed standard has been vetted by individuals, industry, and scientists.  It’s time for it to be finalized.

When we visit our Senators to talk about the ways that we —congregations, study groups, and individuals of faith— are stepping up with energy efficiency, outreach in our communities, and clean energy purchasing we’ll make sure they get copies of the postcards, too.

Will you join us in signing?   There are 3 easy ways you can do it.  Pick your favorite:

  1. Old school Continue reading Let me be blunt.

“listening sessions” — Sister Mary Elizabeth Clark

Image credit: citypaper.net

My name is Sister Mary Elizabeth Clark, a Sister of St. Joseph of Philadelphia. I am here today representing the Sisters of St. Joseph and Chestnut Hill College of Philadelphia. I am also an Ambassador of the U.S. Catholic Bishops Climate Change Coalition. Speaking from a faith perspective and the moral imperative of doing no harm to God’s creation, I implore you to write Emission Guidelines for reducing carbon pollution from existing fossil fuel power plants that truly make a difference for global climate.

As Pope Francis has said in his call to us all, “Whenever human beings fail to live up to Continue reading “listening sessions” — Sister Mary Elizabeth Clark