Rep. Steve Santarsiero (D-Bucks) Monday announced a plan that would set Pennsylvania on course for a 50 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030.
Rep. Santarsiero said that his legislation-- House Bill 2030 (not yet online)-- would put Pennsylvania in the lead of states addressing the goals of the United Nations COP21 agreement in Paris.
House Bill 2030 would require the Department of Environmental Protection to establish a plan for reducing the state’s greenhouse gas emissions across all sectors, and it would implement strong enforcement mechanisms including incentives for participation.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan, which would require Pennsylvania to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 32 percent by 2030 from power plants alone, could serve as the foundation for the state plan.
"Climate change continues to be a major threat to humanity, and much of the world is taking serious notice," Rep. Santarsiero said.
The 195 nations responsible for 97.5 percent of the world’s greenhouse gas pledged to prevent global temperatures from rising 2 degrees Celsius and, if possible, 1.5 degrees Celsius above preindustrial era levels in Paris last year. The move is necessary to avoid catastrophic damage, according to research from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
"House Bill 2030 will put Pennsylvania on a course to lead the nation on reversing the damage being done to our environment while also establishing more incentives to invest in renewable energy jobs," Rep. Santarsiero said, adding that Pennsylvania until very recently was the at the top of the list of carbon producers. "We can’t allow partisan politics to break our resolve – now is the time to act.
"Our health, our economy and our future are threatened by climate change and our next generations will judge our resolve and our leadership today."
Rep. Santarsiero’s proposal seeks for the 50-percent reduction to be calculated compared with 2005 levels (consistent with EPA’s Climate Change Plan) and amend Act 70 of 2008, the Pennsylvania Climate Change Act.
Similar plans have been enacted in California and New York, which require a 40 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 compared with 1990 levels and Vermont, which requires 50 percent reductions by 2028 compared with 1990 levels.
Rep. Santarsiero’s plan would amend existing law to require a plan that would establish benchmarks for greenhouse gas reductions. The legislation calls for a collaborative effort between DEP and other agencies to embrace actions recommended by the Climate Change Advisory Committee.
The bill also would "grant those agencies teeth" to reduce emissions not only from power plants, but from agriculture, municipalities, businesses and residences, he said. The plan would leverage incentives to reduce emissions.
"Many believe in a false choice between protecting our planet and growing our economy," Rep. Santarsiero said. "We can leave our children cleaner air and water and offer good-paying jobs in a growing new energy sector while saving taxpayers money. If we work together, we can turn the battle against climate change into a win-win for our Pennsylvania."
A report last year, prepared for Pennsylvania DEP at the direction of the General Assembly, found that Pennsylvania has warmed 1.8°F in the past 110 years, and the warming will increase at an accelerated rate.
By 2050, Pennsylvania will be 5.4°F warmer than it was in the year 2000. By 2050, Philadelphia’s climate will be similar to current-day Richmond, Va., with Pittsburgh’s climate similar to current-day Washington, D.C., or Baltimore.
[Note: Rep. Santarsiero is running for Congress in Bucks County.]
For more background on climate issues in Pennsylvania, visit DEP’s Climate Change and DEP’s Climate Change Advisory Committee webpages.
Related Story:DEP Climate Change Action Plan Update Comments Due March 30