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.

Planning meeting: stopping the dirty energy hub

photo credit: Rev. Jesse Brown ImagesByJesseBrown
photo credit: Rev. Jesse Brown ImagesByJesseBrown

RESCHEULED from 1/24 (weather)
New place and time below.
The coalition that demonstrated outside of the Energy Hub Investors conference (including Philly PA IPL — see Rabbi Malkah Binah Kline  to the left and Rabbi Mordechai Liebling below, and catch glimpses of others you know by linking through to other photos.) at Drexel University on December 5 invites people from that demonstration and interested others to an open strategy session to develop a campaign for a cleaner, greener energy future for Philadelphia.  Planning participants will work out sub-campaigns and next steps.

The recent oil train derailment has underlined the urgency of this work.

PA IPL assists the Centre County Fuel Bank

David DeMoss at Fuel Bank presentation
David DeMoss at Fuel Bank presentation

A couple of winters ago the Centre County Fuel Bank ran out of money.  Administered by Interfaith Human Services (IHS), the Fuel Bank is funded through local donations and provides assistance to low-income families who have already exhausted the fuel that they received through the federal LIHEAP program.  When Ruth Donahue, the Executive Director of Interfaith Human Services, went to county officials and to United Way to ask for more funds, they asked whether there was any way to reduce the demand for fuel.  She turned to PA Interfaith Power & Light and asked us to provide classes for the clients of the Fuel Bank on how to reduce their energy use.  Continue reading PA IPL assists the Centre County Fuel Bank

Bright Idea Webinar

This event is finished, but you can

  • view the slides  BrightIdeaSlideshow.PAIPL
  • hear the recorded conference audio  http://tinyurl.com/PAIPLBrightIdea
  • get a copy of the Bright Idea calculator (the live Excel Template is too much to load here, but you can see a snapshot of  it at the link below).  Email Cricket and she’ll reply with an attached Excel file you can use for real.  It’s a fun toy! snapshot-BrightIdeaCalculator.PAIPL

During this call, PA IPL board member Chuck Marshall will introduce participants to an exciting program at his church, (charter PA IPL member) Central Baptist Church that is cutting emissions AND helping low-income households cut their bills — they call it Bright Idea.  The program is less flashy than Wayne Central Baptist’s solar panels, but it can be immediately affordable, and it’s actually outpacing the panels in its emissions-cutting effects.  Any congregation can adapt this for themselves.   REGISTRATION is free.

It’s a great way to

  • cut emissions
  • serve the community
  • involve the congregation

Invite a friend to join the call, too.  If you get excited and want to share the ideas with more people, we’d be glad to schedule webinars or in-person events.

Before the call, we’ll email you

  • a PDF you can use to follow along with the presentation
  • a nifty calculator to measure the program’s impact
  • directions for making the call using your phone (normal rates or minutes-charges apply) or your computer (free!).

We’ll start on time, but feel free to duck out early if you need to — most of the information will be covered by 7:30, and the remaining time will be available for Q and A.

Click through to REGISTER!

Positively Green 2014



On March1, PSU IPL held the 4th annual Positively Green .   By afternoon the participants had made and installed 22 window inserts!   Check out the finished product in the photo to the right — you’re looking through 2 “panes” of insulating plastic with an excellent insulating air pocket between.  Impressively clear and window-like, isn’t it?  Effective, too.  One group of students reported being able to actually feel the difference in “their” house from beginning to end of the (very quick) installation!  The PSU IPL officers did a fantastic job organizing the day, and they’ve created a PowerPoint presentation they’re willing to share to show exactly how Continue reading Positively Green 2014

Positively Green


This event is over, but you can see all the pictures in a Facebook album on PA IPL’s Facebook page, or have a look at the write up on our blog.

Positively Green 2014 is the 4th annual energy efficiency and weatherization service learning event held on “State Patty’s Day.”  Organized primarily by Penn State students, there is a learning and action component in the morning, followed by lunch, after which participants head out to service sites to put the learning and preparation work into action in low-income households and service agencies in Centre County, gathering again for a conclusion at the end of the day.  Register here.

The learning component takes place within walking distance of campus.  We will carpool to work sites within 10 miles of State College.


9-12 learning and pre-building
12-12:30 lunch
12:30-1 move volunteers and materials to worksites
1-3:30 service
3:30 return to learning site to regroup and share stories (cookies!)
4:30 adjourn