Thursday, September 10, 2020

PEC/EDF: The General Assembly Has Remained Silent On Climate Change

In a September 9 letter to the Senate, the PA Environmental Council and Environmental Defense Fund urged the General Assembly to break their silence and pass legislation to effectively address the issue of climate change like many other states have done in a bipartisan way.
“Our legislature can and should lead the charge on maximizing the economic and employment opportunities provided through clean and net zero technologies, and to help communities adapt to the inevitable transitions that have occured and will continue in the years to come.”
They pointed out in 2008, the General Assembly passed the Pennsylvania Climate Change Act (Act 70) which tasked DEP to develop a Climate Change Action Plan, to be updated every three years, that would identify cost-effective strategies for addressing greenhouse gas emissions, including policy recommendations to the General Assembly.  [Read More Here.]
“In addition, periodic assessments have been developed in consultation with Penn State University on the economic, health, and ecological impacts to Pennsylvania resulting from climate change.  [Read More Here.]
“The Action Plans and Impacts Analyses have consistently underscored the consensus that climate change is an immediate economic and environmental concern, and that our state’s contribution to greenhouse emissions is globally significant. 
“These findings mirror public and private conclusions from interests as far ranging as the scientific community, the U.S. Military, investment and financial institutions, and utilities and energy companies. 
“In fact, a report from the Public Utility Commission, released last month, noted that power outages from severe weather events hit a record high in 2019. 
“Despite all this, and even with a majority of Pennsylvanians in support of specific policies and actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions  – even factoring the Covid-19 pandemic  – the General Assembly has remained silent. 
“There has been no comprehensive legislative action to address climate change, or to best position Pennsylvania for the necessary transformation to a net zero economy. 
“This includes failing to address impacts to communities already significantly affected by changes to our energy portfolio even with the absence of policy action. 
“This runs counter to bipartisan action in legislatures across the country which have passed ambitious legislation to hasten and support the transition to a clean energy economy.”
Rather than take a step backward with legislation like House Bill 2025 and Senate Bill 950, PEC and EDF said the General Assembly should be looking to enact bipartisan legislation like Senate Bill 15 that addresses the issue of climate change and its impacts.
[Note: A companion bill-- House Bill 2856-- was introduced by Rep. Carolyn Comitta (D-Chester) after the letter was sent.]
“Introduced last month, Senate Bill 15 would accomplish two important objectives: (1) it would chart a course for Pennsylvania to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the electric power sector; and (2) it would provide a framework for investment in programs that promote energy innovation, mitigate utility bill impacts and protect low-income consumers, increase efficiency, and assist workers and communities impacted by transitions in our energy economy.  [Read More Here.]
“It would also positively engage the legislature on climate and energy at a time when action is truly needed.”
The letter also points out, “PEC has provided policy recommendations  for decarbonization of Pennsylvania’s electricity sector which are premised on an “all in” approach that can maintain and improve the state’s energy portfolio.  [Read More Here.]
“Chief among those recommendations is for Pennsylvania to link to the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), a proven market-based platform that provides cost-effective and flexible means to reduce emissions from the electricity sector while returning revenue to our state for investment in communities, jobs, and businesses. 
“RGGI has helped other states reduce their emissions, lower energy prices, and create jobs. RGGI’s emission allowance design mirrors other successful air pollution programs in which Pennsylvania has already participated in. 
“There are built-in protections to help control costs and the program has been deemed successful in terms of price discovery, transparency, transaction costs, and other logistical considerations.  
“In short, joining RGGI is the most sensible and adaptable program to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. It is supported by states, environmental organizations, and business and energy interests alike.” 
“Full analysis [of climate proposals] is of course essential and we welcome robust dialogue on energy and climate policy; but there must be a corresponding commitment to finding solutions.]
The PEC/EDF letter also goes into more detail about the concerns they have with  House Bill 2025 and Senate Bill 950
For more information on programs, initiatives and special events, visit the PA Environmental Council website, visit the PEC Blog, PEC Bill/Regulation Tracker, follow PEC on Twitter or Like PEC on Facebook.  Visit PEC’s Audio Room for the latest podcasts.  Click Here to receive regular updates from PEC.
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[Posted: Sept. 10, 2020]  PA Environment Digest

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