What Climate Solutions We Have Achieved Globally, Nationally, & Within Pennsylvania

In Partnership with the Jewish Earth Alliance (JEA)

Join us Wednesday, November 17 at 7:00pm for a meeting as part of PA IPL‘s ongoing partnership with Jewish Earth Alliance (JEA).

TOPIC:
What Climate Solutions We Have Achieved Globally, Nationally, and Within Pennsylvania

SPEAKERS:
National and International updates from Jonathan Lacock-Nisly, Director of Faithful Advocacy for Interfaith Power & Light (DC.MD.NoVA)
Pennsylvania updates from Flora Cardoni, Field Director for PennEnvironment
Spiritual offering by Marci Wilf, Middot/character instructor, speaking on gratitude

Register here for this event.

We also encourage everyone to write thank you notes to Casey and their representative if they voted for BBB/infrastructure. We will be writing letters in the meeting as well. If you need help on how to call or email them and what to say, please contact Phyllis for assistance.

Please submit your letters directly to Phyllis as attachments to your email message. We will deliver them by email directly to the appropriate staffer.

REGISTER NOW and receive an email providing the Zoom link for the meeting.

We hope to see you on November 17th at 7:00pm!

RGGI Passes in PA with 3 to 2 Vote!

Today the PA Independent Regulatory Review Commission (IRRC) voted to approve PA participation in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) in a 3 to 2 vote. Now, PA can join neighboring states in cutting CO2, creating jobs, and helping communities in need of support.

The passage of the RGGI is significant because in Pennsylvania, a substantial energy-producing state, over 70% of voters in recent polling called for solutions to cut carbon pollution from fossil fuel-fired power plants.

The RGGI is an established multi-state cap-and-invest program that seeks to slash carbon emissions from the power sector while generating proceeds that can be invested in cleaner energy generation including solar, wind, and nuclear. The RGGI program proceeds have also buttressed energy efficiency efforts in participating states and according to ACEEE, every dollar invested in efficiency in low-income households through the Weatherization Assistance Program results in $2.53 in energy and non-energy benefits for a community. These are real benefits for Pennsylvanians in frontline communities that have long borne an inordinate pollution burden.

It is critical that we take action on climate change now and a program like RGGI is positioned to provide immediate benefits to both our environment and the economy. PA citizens are rightly concerned about what the future will look like for their children and families if we don’t meaningfully address planetary warming right now. Having Pennsylvania link to RGGI in early 2022 is very much in the public interest, which is why we are thrilled to announce an affirmative vote for this rulemaking from the commissioners today.

Public Comments to the Independent Regulatory Review Commission on the Department of Environmental Protection’s C02 Budget Trading Program/Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative Rulemaking

September 1, 2021

Commissioners:

Thank you for allowing me to speak today. My name is David Heayn-Menendez and I am the executive director of Pennsylvania Interfaith Power & Light, a community of congregations, faith-based organizations and individuals of faith responding to climate change as an ethical and moral issue. We are the Pennsylvania affiliate of Interfaith Power & Light, a national organization, and as our mission suggests, we are concerned about the existential crisis we face as a result of climate change. The greenhouse gas pollution we are generating is unsustainable for our people and our planet and we are not outliers in this belief: In Pennsylvania alone, a substantial energy-producing state, over 70% of voters in recent polling called for solutions to cut carbon pollution from fossil fuel-fired power plants.

And here’s where the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative comes in. As you know, RGGI is an established multi-state cap-and-invest program that seeks to slash carbon emissions from the power sector while generating proceeds that can be invested in cleaner energy generation including solar, wind and nuclear. The RGGI program proceeds have also buttressed energy efficiency efforts in participating states and according to ACEEE, every dollar invested in efficiency in low-income households through the Weatherization Assistance Program results in $2.53 in energy and non-energy benefits for a community. These are real benefits for Pennsylvanians in frontline communities that have long borne an inordinate pollution burden.

It is critical that we take action on climate change now and a program like RGGI is positioned to provide immediate benefits to both our environment and the economy. I was one of hundreds of speakers who lent their voice last summer during public hearings on RGGI, hearings which affirmed the overwhelming support among Pennsylvanians for the commonwealth’s participation in the program. Our citizens are rightly concerned about what the future will look like for their children and families if we don’t meaningfully address planetary warming right now. Having Pennsylvania link to RGGI in early 2022 is very much in the public interest, which is why we urge an affirmative vote for this rulemaking from the commissioners today. I appreciate your time and consideration.

William Lochstet Comments on Methane Emissions, August 2016

On August 4, 2016, PA IPL member William Lochstet delivered the following testimony on the topic of methane emissions to the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection’s Air Quality Technical Advisory Committee.

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The EPA has found that the current and projected concentrations of the six greenhouse gases (GHGs) in the atmosphere threaten the public health and welfare of current and future generations through climate change.

Our climate is a common good we share with our neighbors. Many religious traditions address the question of who is my neighbor. Christianity suggests that even persons normally rejected by society are actually neighbors. The Pope recently wrote of the earth as our common home. Native American tradition suggests that neighbors extend seven generations into the future. We are all brothers and sisters together now, in the past and into the future. What we put into the atmosphere today will have effects years and centuries into the future.

We had hoped to reduce global warming by replacing coal with natural gas since it results in less carbon dioxide (CO2) per unit of energy produced, when burned. But, we find that so much methane is released along the way, that the overall climate change effect is greater.

The Global Warming Potential (GWP) of methane and CO2 need to be understood in relation to time. When CO2 is released into the atmosphere, it stays there for a long time, and produces a steady warming effect. Methane in air undergoes chemical reactions on a time scale of about 12 years, which ultimately produces CO2 and water vapor. A methane release has a huge warming effect in the beginning, but is equal to CO2 after several decades. The Global Warming Potential for methane is between 84 and 87 over 20 years, according to EPA. This can have a huge effect on the weather events that you and I will experience in the next 10 or 20 years. This is important for immediate disaster preparedness. It is important to present global warming projections in both 100-year and 20-year time frames.

We need to reduce methane emissions by half very quickly. The Natural Gas STAR Program is voluntary, and therefore will not succeed. California is considering a 45% reduction in greenhouse gases emissions, below 2012 levels by 2025.

Lastly, the United Church of Christ at its National meeting last June adopted a resolution calling for the complete transition to renewable energy by 2040.

Rachel Mark Comments to IRRC on Oil & Gas Site Standards

On April 21, 2016, PA IPL member Rachel Mark offered the following statement at a public meeting on the subject of Regulation #7-484: Environmental Protection Performance Standards at Oil and Gas Well Sites

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I am speaking today as a member of Pennsylvania Interfaith Power & Light, a faith-based organization responding to climate change, and because as a concerned person, I worry every day about the future of the youngest members of my family.

I share the position of Interfaith Power & Light that the use of fossil fuels, including natural gas, is primarily a moral issue. We take seriously the accumulation of evidence by the scientific community that the continued use of fossil fuels is leading to a dangerous and uncertain future, with a very real possibility that our children will inherit a climate and a world that is out of their control. If a climate out of control is hard to conceptualize, we have only to think of the extreme weather conditions that are happening already, the sea level rise occurring in Miami, the current deluge of flooding in Houston, insect-borne diseases, and wild fires which are documented to be hotter than fires in past history.

The benefits of natural gas are usually argued in terms of cost benefit analysis, and lower carbon emissions when compared to coal. Unfortunately, fossil fuels are already creating havoc around the world.

In view of the scientific warnings about the urgency of climate change and about the dangers of continued use of fossil fuels, PA Interfaith Power and Light recently approved a resolution favoring a moratorium on new gas drilling leases and new drilling infrastructure. However, recognizing that we are not yet positioned for an immediate or fast transition to renewable energy, it is more than obvious that informed and appropriate regulations are first and basic steps essential to protect our air and water, and consequently the health and well-being of people and ecosystems.

Of course, we should be protecting our homes and schools. At the same time, we should be thinking long-term rather than short-term, and considering consequences in the world around us. Natural gas is a fossil fuel. We need to stop. If we are unable to stop now, we need to regulate as if our future depends upon it.

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.