Thursday, February 13, 2020

DEP Climate Committee To Hear Update On Climate Impact Assessment Focused On Achieving Water Quality Cleanup Goals, Infrastructure, Livestock Production Feb. 25

DEP’s Climate Change Advisory Committee is scheduled to meet on February 25 to hear an update from Penn State on Pennsylvania’s Climate Change Impact Assessment focused on impacts to infrastructure, achieving water quality cleanup goals and livestock production.
The Committee will also hear presentations on the Southeast PA Coastal Climate Impact Report on sea level rise and the draft RGGI regulations.
Impact Assessment
DEP published a more comprehensive Climate Change Impact Assessment, also done by Penn State, in 2015 for public comment, but never finalized the document.  Click Here for a copy of the Assessment.
On February 26 of last year, DEP told the Advisory Committee the expected impacts of climate change on the Commonwealth have not changed in broad terms--
-- Climate change could worsen air quality: increasing pollen concentration, mold concentration, and ground-level ozone, causing longer allergy seasons, aggravating asthma, and increasing mortality among at-risk populations.
-- Vector-borne diseases like West Nile virus and Lyme disease could increase due to more favorable conditions for mosquitoes and deer ticks.
-- Increased precipitation in many parts of the state could lead to higher flood risks and threaten safe drinking water supplies.
-- Warmer temperatures will bring more favorable conditions for agricultural pests like weeds and insects.
-- Severe storms – strengthened by warmer temperatures – could affect reliable electric service and threaten current electric infrastructure.
-- Some changes will be positive: longer growing seasons and more tolerable temperatures for crops not currently grown in Pennsylvania offer new opportunities for farmers.
As a result, this next update to the Impact Assessment would be focused on three issues--
-- Resilience Of Infrastructure: How will more frequent and extreme weather events impact transportation, water and other infrastructure?  What changes in infrastructure planning and construction standards be needed to make infrastructure more resilient?  
The Assessment will also use a large urban area-- Pittsburgh or Philadelphia-- to illustrate how policy changes can make infrastructure more resilient.  
It was noted PennDOT has already completed an Extreme Weather Vulnerability Study in 2017.  The June 2018 update to Pennsylvania’s Federal Hazard Mitigation Plan submitted by the PA Emergency Management Agency to FEMA for the first time included a more “robust” evaluation of how climate change would affect the risk of flooding and other natural disasters in the state.
-- Meeting Water Pollution Reduction Goals: How would a changing climate impact strategies for reducing water pollution across the state?  How would it affect Pennsylvania meeting its Chesapeake Bay pollution reduction obligations?  
Are the best management practices used now the most effective at reducing water pollution with changes in frequency, duration and severity of precipitation events?  Are existing stormwater management BMPs be adequate or not?  
A Center for Rural Pennsylvania study has already found a 71 percent increase in very heavy precipitation events has occurred over in the Northeast United States, including Pennsylvania, over the last 54 years.  
DEP has also begun work with Villanova’s Urban Stormwater Partnership and its Center for Resilient Water Systems evaluating the effectiveness of the best management practices in DEP’s 13-year old Stormwater Management Manual.
-- Livestock Production: Answering questions like-- will warmer weather in southern states cause livestock production to move to Pennsylvania? What will the economic and water quality impacts of that shift change in the state?  How will the related farm economy in the state change, such as production of forage crops?
Dr. James Shortle, Distinguished Professor of Agricultural and Environmental Economics Director, College of Agricultural Sciences Environment and Natural Resources Institute Director, Center for Nutrient Pollution Solutions, will be making the presentation to the Committee.
SE PA Coastal Climate Impacts
Also on the agenda is a presentation and discussion of the Coastal Effects Of Climate Change in Southeast PA study completed by the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission.  
The DVRP study shows, through an interactive storymap, $430 million in property value is at risk in Southeast PA due to climate change and coastal flooding.  Click Here for more.
Draft RGGI Reg.
The Committee will also hear a presentation on the draft regulations establishing a RGGI-compatible cap-and-trade program to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from power plants.  
For more information on RGGI, visit DEP’s Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative webpage.  Click Here for a copy of DEP’s draft RGGI regulation.
The meeting will be held in Room 105 of the Rachel Carson Building starting at 10:00 a.m.
For more information and available handouts, visit the DEP Climate Change Advisory Committee webpage.  Questions should be directed to Lindsay Byron by calling 717-772-8951 or send an email to:
[Posted: February 25, 2020]  PA Environment Digest

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