State Govt. Already Achieved 40% Renewables Goal; Climate Impact Assessment Report To Focus On Farm, Water Issues
On February 26, the Department of General Services told DEP’s Climate Change Advisory Committee state agencies have already achieved the 40 percent renewable electricity goal Gov. Wolf established in an executive order issued on January 28.
To achieve the goal, DGS was able to purchase 308,000 nationally certified renewable energy credits, not Pennsylvania-specific credits, costing $250,000 to meet the goal using about 9 percent of the money saved from earlier energy conservation projects.
The purchase reduced the equivalent of 218,000 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions which DGS said is like taking 26,000 vehicles off the road.
Climate Impact Assessment
DEP has begun work on an update to the state’s Climate Impact Assessment detailing expected impacts on Pennsylvania as a result of climate change.
The last Climate Impact Assessment was put out for public comment in 2015, but never finalized by DEP.
That Assessment said Pennsylvanians should prepare for dangerously high summer temperatures and more severe storms, increased threat of certain diseases carried by insects, and drastic changes to agriculture and water quality.
The report notes that by 2050, Philadelphia’s climate will be similar to current-day Richmond, VA, and Pittsburgh will be similar to current-day Washington, DC or Baltimore, MD.
DEP told the Committee the expected impacts from climate change on Pennsylvania have not changed, so instead of producing the same kind of report, the next assessment will focus on three specific issues--
-- 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?
-- 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.
The new Climate Impact Assessment is due to be completed by the end of the year.
2018 Climate Plan Update
DEP said at the meeting they hoped to finalize the 2018 Climate Action Plan Update in March after Advisory Committee members get one more opportunity to submit comments to DEP.
DEP hopes to have the next draft to members next week and they suggested providing members with a 2 week window to submit comments that would be included in an appendix in the Update. [The Committee doesn’t actually vote to recommend the Update.]
Committee members expressed concern about the tight 2-week comment deadline and passed a motion urging DEP to give Committee members 4 weeks.
The next scheduled meeting of the Committee is on April 23.
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 sending email to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
(Photo: From PennDOT’s 2017 Extreme Weather Vulnerability Study.)
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[Posted: Feb. 27, 2019]
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