Gov. Wolf Sets Goal Of Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions By 80% By 2050 From 2005 Levels
On January 8, Gov. Tom Wolf announced he has signed a new executive order setting a statewide goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 26 percent by 2025 and 80 percent by 2050 from 2005 levels. These are the same reduction levels in the 2015 U.N. Paris Climate Agreement.
The executive order also establishes the GreenGov Council to boost green and sustainable practices in state government to help achieve the goals set in the executive order, while saving taxpayers money and creating jobs in the state’s clean energy economy.
“In the absence of leadership from the federal government, states and cities are stepping up and doing their part to reduce emissions,” said Gov. Wolf. “Today I am proud to declare the Commonwealth’s intention to address climate change, the most critical environmental threat facing the world.”
According to the Department of Environmental Protection, Pennsylvania already meets the 2030 goal established in the original EPA Clean Power Plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from power plants, primarily as a result of switching to natural gas for electricity generation. Read more here.
Meeting the 2025 greenhouse gas reduction goal may already be in reach since federal data shows Pennsylvania’s carbon dioxide emissions shrank nearly 22 percent between 2005 and 2016, according to former DEP Secretary John Quigley.
New GreenGov Council
The GreenGov Council will work with all state agencies to reduce energy use in state government and improve the energy efficiency of state buildings and vehicles, saving taxpayers money in the process.
The GreenGov Council will serve as a central coordinating body to promote the implementation of the executive order and the achievement of the following state agency performance goals:
-- Reduce overall energy consumption by 3 percent per year, and 21 percent by 2025, as compared to 2017 levels;
-- Replace 25 percent of the state passenger car fleet with battery electric and plug-in electric hybrid cars by 2025; and
-- Procure renewable energy to offset at least 40 percent of the commonwealth’s annual electricity use.
“Commonwealth agencies can continue to demonstrate their commitment to both environmental and fiscal stewardship by implementing best practices to reduce energy and resource consumption, improve energy efficiency, realize cost savings, and protect the environment,” said Gov. Wolf.
The GreenGov Council will encourage and coordinate the incorporation of environmentally sustainable practices into the Commonwealth government's policy, planning, operations, procurement, and regulatory functions, and strive for continuous improvement in efficiency and performance.
Secretaries of the Departments of General Services, Environmental Protection, and Conservation and Natural Resources will co-chair the Council.
Click Here to read the new executive order.
Peoples Gas Reduction Commitment
Gov. Wolf announced the new executive order at an event celebrating the public-private collaboration happening in the city of Pittsburgh to help bolster the city’s climate action plan.
Peoples Gas announced a commitment to cut methane emissions from Pittsburgh’s distribution system by 50 percent using advanced leak detection methods developed in partnership with Environmental Defense Fund and Google Earth Outreach to map and measure leaks coming from underground pipes.
The pledge is the first of its kind by a United States utility. Read more here.
Mandy Warner, Senior Manager of Climate and Air Policy for the Environmental Defense Fund issued this statement in response to Gov. Wolf's climate action-- By setting these goals, Governor Tom Wolf is continuing to show he is ready to lead on climate even as the federal government sits on the sidelines. Moving forward, developing enforceable climate pollution limits, for both carbon and methane, will be critical to ensure that Pennsylvania achieves these goals.”
Other PA Climate Actions
There have been several other climate-related actions in the last 2 months in Pennsylvania--
-- PA Joins Transportation Greenhouse Gas Reduction Program: On December 18, Pennsylvania and a coalition of 8 Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states and the District of Columbia announced the formation of a regional Transportation and Climate Initiative and their intent to design a new regional low-carbon transportation policy proposal that would cap and reduce carbon emissions from the combustion of transportation fuels, and invest proceeds from the program into low-carbon and more resilient transportation infrastructure. Read more here.
-- Oil & Gas Facility Methane Reduction: DEP’s Air Quality Technical Advisory Committee met December 13 to discuss a draft regulation to set limits on volatile organic compound emissions-- with the “co-benefit” of reducing methane emissions-- from existing well sites, pumps, storage and other equipment at oil and gas facilities. Read more here.
-- PA Climate Plan Update: On December 4, DEP’s Climate Change Advisory Committee reviewed over 100 recommendations for reducing greenhouse gas emissions in Pennsylvania, but fall short of meeting the 2050 target outlined by the Governor. The final version of the Plan Update should be released sometime in February. Read more here.
-- Cap-And-Trade Petition: On November 27, Robert B. McKinstry, Jr., the Clean Air Council, Widener University Environmental Law and Sustainability Center, eco(n)law LLC and 61 other individuals, groups, businesses and local governments submitted a rulemaking petition to the Environment Quality Board to establish a market-based cap-and-trade greenhouse gas emission reduction program that eliminates those emissions from major sources by 2052.
The Department of Environmental Protection is now reviewing the petition to see if it meets the requirements for consideration by the EQB. If it is acceptable, it will go to the EQB for a vote on whether the petition should be accepted for study. The next meeting of the EQB is February 19. Read more here.
-- Nuclear Energy Caucus Report: On November 29, Senators Ryan Aument (R-Lancaster) and John Yudichak (D-Luzerne) along with Representatives Becky Corbin (R-Chester) and Rob Matzie (D-Allegheny), co-chairs of the Senate-House Nuclear Energy Caucus released a report summarizing their findings on the impact of closing nuclear power plants in Pennsylvania and outlining potential solutions.
The report, which will be transmitted to all members of the General Assembly and to Gov. Wolf, includes four options for the future of the state’s challenged industry, including the General Assembly taking action in 2019 to prevent the “employment, economic, and environmental devastation” associated with the premature closure of nuclear plants in the Commonwealth.
One of the options in the report is to impose a carbon tax on energy sources. Read more here.
-- Auditor General’s Report On Climate Change: On December 3, Auditor General Eugene DePasquale announced plans to prepare a special report exploring how Pennsylvania is responding to climate change in light of a failure by national leaders to recognize and act on the issue. Read more here.
First Green Government Council
“The purpose of the Council is to, cooperatively across agency jurisdictions, facilitate the incorporation of environmentally sustainable practices, including Strategic Environmental Management, into Commonwealth government's planning, operations, and policymaking and regulatory functions, and to strive for continuous improvement in environmental performance with the goal of zero emissions.
“Strategic Environmental Management includes an environmental management system with a strong pollution prevention and energy efficiency program, effective community involvement, measurable economic and environmental performance goals, environmental accounting, and life cycle analysis.”
During the Ridge and Schweiker Administrations, the Council spearheaded efforts that resulted in Pennsylvania adopting the first “green” building standards for public buildings and taking on dozens of other environmental projects.
Pennsylvania became the first state government in the nation to buy “green” energy, helping the first windmill farm in the state in Somerset County become commercially viable.
The first “green” building project involved DEP’s Southcentral Regional Office Building in Harrisburg, which became one of the first dozen buildings certified as green in the United States by the U.S. Green Building Council and was recognized in 1999 with the Excellence in Environmental Engineering Award from the American Academy of Environmental Engineers.
DEP’s second major green building—the District Mining Office in Cambria County is so energy efficient, it sells power to the grid. It recently won the American Institute of Architects’ top 10 green buildings of 1999 Award.
Three other green buildings were started--offices in California, Washington County, Norristown, Montgomery County, Philipsburg, Centre County and Pennsylvania's first green environmental laboratory building in Harrisburg--for a total of six major green building projects.
[Posted: Jan. 8, 2019]
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