Last month the Pennsylvania Environmental Council (PEC) released its Climate Change Roadmap for Pennsylvania – a comprehensive inventory of greenhouse gas emissions in Pennsylvania, coupled with a sector-by-sector series of recommendations for reducing emissions that are causing global warming. These recommendations include establishing a national cap and trade program, advancing renewable energy and biofuel development, and promoting greater energy and fuel efficiency.
Today Senator Casey announced his support for these principles by co-sponsoring three bills in the Senate, including one introduced last week by Senator Specter (S.1766, the Low Carbon Economy Act). “We applaud Senator Casey and Senator Specter’s leadership on this issue” said Brian Hill, President & CEO of PEC.“Climate change will have a tremendous impact on public health, our economy, and overall quality of life inPennsylvania. It’s imperative that we act decisively to stop global warming; our Senators’ support of legislation requiring mandatory reductions from multiple sources is a great step in the right direction.” The Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) recently released a report on projected impacts to Pennsylvania if state, national, and world leaders fail to take immediate and decisive action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. These impacts include dramatic increases in the number of days exceeding 90 and even 100 degrees; additional challenges to dairy, livestock, and field and fruit crop farmers caused by heat stress, invasive species, and drought; and loss of recreational opportunities, particularly winter sports and fishing. The conclusion of the UCS and scientific community is clear: unless we achieve an 80% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions within the next several decades, these impacts could be severe and fundamentally change life as we know it inPennsylvania. Senate Bill 309 (the Sanders-Boxer Global Warming Pollution Reduction Act), endorsed today by Senator Casey, would accomplish this level of emissions reduction by 2050, Hill said, noting that this more aggressive approach addresses a key concern highlighted by the UCS Report and PEC Roadmap.Pennsylvania is currently responsible for 1% of worldwide emissions of greenhouse gases, ranking our state among the top 25 nations in the world. “Clearly the challenge to reduce greenhouse gas emissions is considerable,” Hill said, “but so are the opportunities. Already our state has seen an influx of investment and job creation centered on renewable energy development. Federal legislation that mandates significant reductions in greenhouse gas emissions is extremely important, and creates a level playing field forPennsylvania.” When he served as Pennsylvania Treasurer, Senator Casey led the creation of the innovative Keystone Green Investment Strategy – which links economic development and environmental protection with specific consideration of climate risk and investment in sustainable energy development. PEC was proud to work with then-Treasurer Casey and his staff on the development of the Strategy, which has already produced real dividends for our state. PEC is currently engaged in a number of climate-related efforts in addition to the Roadmap. PEC is serving as facilitator for the statewide Carbon Management Advisory Group, which is identifying carbon sequestration opportunities in Pennsylvania, and working with several partners on a demonstration project that will use excess poultry manure as a soil amendment to abandoned mine land to grow switchgrass and high diversity native grass. This demonstration project will reduce nitrogen and phosphorus pollution in the Chesapeake Bay, help remediate an abandoned mine land site, and provide carbon sequestration and biofuel production.