What We Do

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! 

RGGI Testimony-Scott Laird, Advocate for Climate Justice and Supporter of PA IPL

Thank you for the privilege of submitting comments to the Environmental Quality Board (EQB) of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania regarding the proposed rule for the Commonwealth to take part in the the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI). I hereby urge the EQB to approve this proposal. I am a private citizen and do not submit these comments on behalf of any organization. I am an honorably retired, former professional geologist in Pennsylvania and Delaware, as well as a former licensed site remediation professional in the State of New Jersey. My comments reflect my personal opinion, informed by my education and experiences, about the gravity of our future climatic conditions for my adult children and my small grandchildren.  I believe we are facing an existential climatic crisis with long-term implications not seen since the Second World War. The decision of the EQB will have an important bearing on this Commonwealth’s part in responding to this crisis. I also offer comments based on technical information for which I have cited references in peer-reviewed government documents. The facts and data gathered, analyzed and evaluated by the best-trained scientists in the world must be recognized and factored into your decision. I have previously testified to my Tredyffrin Township Board of Supervisors in favor of going to 100% renewable power sources which the Board approved this year by a 6-1 vote.

The Fourth National Climate Assessment identified several critical climatic effects from a human-caused rise in the global annual average temperature (AAT) relative to pre-industrial times.[ Wuebbles, D.J et al., 2017. Executive Summary/ Client Science Special Report: Fourth National Climate Assessment, Volume I; In Wuebbles,D.J. et al., editors, U.S. Global Change Research Program, Wash. D.C., USA, pp.12-34.]

  • Global AAT has increased by about 1.0°C over the past 115 years (1901-2016). This period is now the warmest in the history of modern civilization. Recent years have also seen record-breaking weather extremes and the warmest years on record for the globe. These trends are expected to continue over climate timescales. Green house gas (GHG) emissions are the dominant cause of the observed warming since the mid-20th century. The largest observed changes in the U.S. have occurred in the Northeast.
  • Heavy rainfall is increasing in intensity and frequency across the U.S. and is expected to continue to increase. The largest observed changes in the U.S. have occurred in the Northeast.
  • Heat waves have become more frequent in the U.S. since the 1960’s, while extreme cold temperatures and cold waves are less frequent. Recent record-setting hot years are projected to become common in the near future for the U.S., as AATs continue to rise. Over the past 115 years, the AAT increased 1.0°C and is expected to increase 1.4°C.
  • The magnitude of climate change will depend primarily on the amount of GHGs (especially CO2) emitted globally. Without major reductions in emissions, the increase in global AAT relative to pre-industrial times could reach 5°C by the year 2100. With significant reductions in emissions, the increase in global AAT could be limited to 2°C or less.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reports that the increase in global AAT has increased the the frequency and magnitude, strengthening evidence of how an increase in global AAT of 1.5°C or more could impact natural and human systems. Their climate models project robust differences in regional climate between present-day and global warming up to 1.5°C, especially for temperature extremes including eastern North America. [IPCC, 2018: Global Warming of 1.5°C Above Pre-industrial Levels and Related Global GHG Emission Pathways, in the Context of Strengthening the Global Response to the Threat of Climate Change, Sustainable Development, and Efforts to Eradicate Poverty, p.177.]The report concludes that limiting global warming to 1.5°C would limit globally risks and reduce the probability of heavy precipitation events, extreme drought, precipitation deficits, and water availability. More germane to the proposed RGGI, the report concludes:

“Though CO2 dominates long-term warming, the reduction of warming short-lived climate enforcers, such as methane and black carbon, can in the short-term contribute significantly to limiting warming  to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels. Reductions of black carbon and methane would have substantial co-benefits, including improved health due to reduced air pollution. This, in turn, enhances the institutional and socio-cultural feasibility of such actions.” [IPCC, 2018, Op. cit., p.316]

Particulate emissions have contributed to soil quality impacts at locations where they are “consistently present in the environment of the region of the site and which has not been influenced by localized human activities”, i.e., not point source of pollution involved.  Joining the RGGI would provide a co-benefit as mentioned in the IPCC report. Research conducted by The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection revealed that regulated toxic metal compounds were found to exceed natural background concentrations, and residential health-based soil standards due to “ambient deposition”. [Sanders, P.F.,2003, “Ambient Levels of Metals in New Jersey Soils”, NJDEP Division of Science Research and Technology, Environmental Assessment and Risk Analysis Element, Research Project Summary]. The westerly-prevailing wind direction from PA toward NJ has the potential to carry such particulate constituents, and over many years may have contributed to ambient deposition concentrations up to undesirable levels.  Efforts to reduce GHG emissions through the RGGI will increase the potential to reduce particulate emissions containing metals or other chemical constituents which may be deleterious to human health.

In closing, where I live at the junction of Delaware, Montgomery and Chester Counties, the number of air quality health alerts, due to exceeding the CAA attainment levels,  is too high during the warmest months. My children like to run for exercise when visiting me, and they are jeopardizing the health of their lungs from microscopic particles of soot and elevated ozone, especially when jogging.Accordingly, I favor joining the RGGI as a critical step forward to restoring our climate regionally as well as internationally.

Very truly,

H. Scott Laird, M.S.