Fred Kraybill Comments on the Clean Power Plan

In November 2015, PA IPL member Fred Kraybill submitted the following comments in regard to the Environmental Protection Agency’s final rule on the Clean Power Plan.

Comments on the EPA Clean Power Plan

My name is Fred Kraybill and I live in Pittsburgh. I am part owner and manager of Thomas Blvd Group which owns and operates an apartment building. Thomas Blvd Group is a solar powered business. We have solar panels on the roof, geothermal heating for the building and we have an electric car for transportation. We support clean energy.

 

Point Breeze where we are located recently ran a Solarize campaign to educate the community about solar energy and we were able to increase the solar installations in Point Breeze from 9 to 18 homes. The interesting thing is what the solar homeowners are saying about their reasons for going solar such as “to help the planet,” “to not contribute other peoples’ poor health,” to reduce our carbon footprint, and to fight climate change. Increasingly the end user of electricity is demanding clean energy and a livable climate and I view the EPA’s Clean Power Plan as a response by the government to meet this pressing need.

 

Our neighboring state, West Virginia, has been dominated by the coal industry for many years. West Virginia not only produces a lot of coal but also uses a lot of coal for electrical generation. Coal has been on the decline in recent years. Pittsburghers can understand what it’s like to be dominated by one industry. At one time steel was king in Pittsburgh and we lost this major industry in the 70’s and 80’s without anything to replace it. But West Virginia has a major opportunity to develop wind power in its numerous windswept ridges. Replacing aging, polluting power plants with clean energy would truly be an environmental victory that would grow the economy and create jobs! Coal mines deplete and eventually shut down but the wind keeps blowing!

 

Worldwide there is a clean energy race going on. Mercom Capital predicts 57 Gigawatts of solar will be installed this year and another consultant predicts 59 Gigawatts of wind power will be installed this year. Both of these numbers are record breaking. The clean energy race is a race the America should win. But we can’t win it if we’re not in it. The Clean Power Plan puts us in the clean energy race.

 

We have a major wind power corridor developing right here in the tri state area. From the Johnstown area in Blair and Cambria Counties there are several wind farms. Heading south to Somerset County there are about 9 wind farms. Crossing the border into Western Md there are several wind farms in the Deep Creek Lake area. Then crossing the border into West Virginia is one of the largest wind farms east of the Mississippi in the town of Mt. Storm. We should continue this build out. Pennsylvania can build more wind power and also import wind power from areas such as West Virginia.

 

What about natural gas? We should avoid natural gas. It may burn cleaner than coal but it still emits CO2. Gas wells deplete rapidly, they can pollute the surrounding water supplies and worst of all methane that leaks from the pipeline infrastructure is a more potent green house gas than CO2.

 

What about the need for storage with renewable energy? This claim is sometimes over blown. Balancing the intermittency of wind and solar is not even necessary until about the 25% mark because there are already dispatchable resources on the grid that can balance the variable nature of renewable energy. After 25% renewable energy we can use storage. We have dams to store water for irrigation, for flood control, and to generate electricity. We even have dams that pump water from a lower reservoir to an upper dam at night when electricity prices are low and then use that water to generate electricity during the day when electricity prices are high.

 

This type of electricity storage is called pumped hydro. Solutions such as this and others can get renewable energy to high levels of penetration on the grid. We make huge concessions to the nuclear industry such as the federal government insuring nuclear power in the event of a catastrophic meltdown so we most certainly can assist renewable energy by building more storage. We must transition off fossil fuels for a cleaner, healthier, and safer planet. Remember the solution to pollution is renewable, it’s doable!

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.

Speaker: Julian Agyeman “Beyond Green Environmentalism: E/quality of Life and Just Sustainabilities”

RESCHEDULED from January 28 to March 18 due to weather-related travel issues. 
agyeman
Julian Agyeman, Professor of Urban and Environmental Policy and Planning at Tufts University (and co-founder of the Black Environment Network) will speak at the Penn Humanities Forum.  Dr. Agyeman is the originator of the concept of ‘just sustainabilities,‘ the full integration of social justice and sustainability, defined as:

the need to ensure a better quality of life for all, now and into the future, in a just and equitable manner, whilst living within the limits of supporting ecosystems.

The forum is FREE and open to the public, but guests MUST REGISTER.  The talk will be held in the Penn Museum, which offers both bike racks and easy access to public transportation.  If you can’t go, we still encourage you to explore his website!

Talk description found at the Penn Humanities Forum page, and pasted below.

In our current world of climate change, environmental planning must consider social needs and welfare to offer a truly sustainable model of living. Co-founder of the historic Black Environment Network and author of numerous books and articles, Julian Agyeman charts the future of the global city through the topics of resource distribution, race, class, and space.


Julian Agyeman is Professor of Urban and Environmental Policy and Planning at Tufts University, Medford, MA. He is an environmental social scientist whose expertise and current research interests are in the complex and embedded relations between humans and the environment, whether mediated by governmental institutions or social movements, and the effects of this on public policy and planning processes and outcomes, particularly in relation to notions of justice and equity.

He is co-founder, and Editor-in-Chief of the international journal Local Environment: The International Journal of Justice and Sustainability. With over 150 publications, his recent books include Cultivating Food Justice : Race, Class and Sustainability (MIT Press 2011), Introducing Just Sustainabilities: Policy, Planning and Practice (Zed Books 2013), and Incomplete Streets: Processes, Practices and Possibilities(Routledge 2014).

Co-sponsored by Penn’s School of Social Policy and Practice, Green Campus Partnership, and Urban Studies Program.

the power of song

At PA IPL’s 2014 Annual Conference, Climate Justice: Faith in Action  the Rev. Rhetta Morgan of the Ecclesia Spiritual Center drew participants in to the sanctuary for the keynote session by beginning her music in the sanctuary at Summit Presbyterian Church.  After a few announcements, she re-centered us and drew us close in Spirit for an excellent entry into our ably-moderated keynote panel.   Following the panel, Rhetta again led us in inspiring and energizing song, sending us forth from the keynote to the rest of the workshops.  Thanks to Peter Handler, you can get a taste of that here:

Prior to the workshops, participants enjoyed really fabulous refreshments from Weaver’s Way Co-op (with support from the Rock Ethics Institute), and fellowship and conversation with our Green Resources exhibitors.

Why is climate change a Justice issue?

Plenary panelist Victoria Furio has shared her opening remarks at Climate Justice: Faith in Action, PA IPL’s annual conference held on October 26, 2014 at Summit Presbyterian Church. Resource links at the end of this post!VickyFurio - Version 2

Civilization is based on the principle of not harming the other — We could not coexist if we didn’t assure a reasonable expectation of comfort for everyone.

And our legal system is structured the same way — An individual’s rights extend only as far as they do not infringe on another’s. So justice is about freedom from harm. Our laws aim to provide protection for all.

As persons of faith, we have an even higher law to respond to. What God wants is a total harmony among all creatures, in all of Creation. God wants us to have joy and life in Continue reading Why is climate change a Justice issue?

It’s worth the heartbreak to care about climate change. What would it mean if we didn’t?

Plenary panelist Joelle Novey has shared a piece that echos her remarks at Climate Justice: Faith in Action, PA IPL’s annual conference held on October 26, 2014 at Summit Presbyterian Church. joellenovey

Sometimes I wish I didn’t care about climate change.

Each time I speak with a congregation, I try to put into words what keeps me going in this work, when it would be so much less difficult not to care.

What would I have to do to not care about climate change?

First, I would have to not care about anybody who doesn’t live in the United States and is suffering the consequences of a warming climate now. I would also have to not care about anyone who will be alive after I’m gone, and may be harmed in the future. And then I’d have to not care about any other species of plants or animals, who might not be able to adapt fast enough to survive in a rapidly warming climate.

At that point I don’t have to care about climate change, but I have made my world so small … and too lonely.

Every Jewish community I’ve been a part of teaches us to honor every person as made in God’s Continue reading It’s worth the heartbreak to care about climate change. What would it mean if we didn’t?