Gov. Wolf, Legislators Announce New Climate Action Plan, Including Endorsing Cap-And-Trade For Power Generation, Keeping Nuclear Power Plants Open
On April 29, Gov. Tom Wolf was joined by Senate and House lawmakers to announce an update to the state's Climate Action Plan and that the state will join with 24 other governors in the U.S. Climate Alliance to uphold commitments of the international Paris Climate Agreement.
Gov. Wolf specifically endorsed Senate Bill 600 (Santarsiero-D-Bucks,Killion-R- Delaware, Haywood-D-Philadelphia) and House Bill 1095 (McCarter-D-Montgomery, Carolyn Comitta-D-Chester) that would amend the Alternative Energy Portfolio Standards to mandate 30 percent of Pennsylvania’s electricity to be purchased from traditional alternative energy sources like wind and solar energy by 2030.
The final PA Climate Action Plan Update developed by DEP includes a goal of reducing overall greenhouse gas emission by 26 percent by 2025 from 2005 levels and an 80 percent net reduction by 2050.
These targets are in line with the goals established in the 2015 U.N. Paris Climate Agreement and are the same goals included in an executive order issued by Gov. Wolf in January on greenhouse gas reductions.
The plan describes over 100 actions, 15 of which DEP and partners analyzed quantitatively for potential greenhouse gas emissions reduction.
The analysis showed that just those 15 actions, such as increasing renewable energy, incentivizing energy efficient buildings, and increasing the use of electric vehicles, would reduce emissions 21 percent by 2025.
Any combination of the 85 additional actions would likely achieve even more emissions reductions.
The Plan Update specifically endorses--
-- Cap-And-Trade: Adopting a electricity sector cap-and-trade-program to limit greenhouse gas emissions [the pending cap-and-trade petition at the Environmental Quality Board covers all sectors];
-- Keep Nuclear Plants Open: Implement policy to maintain nuclear generation at current levels [outlines several options, including a zero emission credit program, adding nuclear power into the AEPS];
-- Increase Traditional Wind/Solar: Increase the Alternative Energy Portfolio Standard Tier 1 targets and further increase in-state generation and use of renewables [Like Senate Bill 600, House Bill 1095 to be introduced shortly].
In addition, the Plan Update recommends--
-- Increase end use energy conservation and efficiency--
-- Update building codes
-- Increase adoption of energy efficiency and expand Act 129
-- Create an Act 129-like efficiency program for natural gas
-- Expand energy assessments and provide training on energy efficiency
-- Implement sustainable transportation planning and practices--
-- Reduce vehicle miles traveled for single-occupancy vehicles
-- Implement a strategic plan and incentives for increasing electric vehicle use
-- Increase the use of clean public transportation through electric municipal bus fleets
-- Increase use of clean, distributed electricity generation resources--
-- Invest in and promote building-scale solar
-- Incentivize and increase use of combined heat and power (CHP)
-- Reduce upstream impacts of fossil fuel energy production--
-- Implement policies and practices to reduce methane emissions across oil and natural gas systems
-- Increase production and use of alternative fuels--
-- Increase recovery and use of gas from coal mines, agriculture, wastewater, and landfills for energy
-- Use agricultural best practices---
-- Implement and provide training for no-till farming practices.
“We’ve seen lately even more evidence that there is a need for leadership on climate change. For that reason, Pennsylvania will join the U.S. Climate Alliance, a bipartisan coalition of 24 governors, representing over half of the U.S. population to work to implement policies that uphold the commitments our nation made in the Paris Agreement,” said Gov. Wolf. “With the federal government turning its back on science and the environment, I am proud to join with states that are leading the way towards new climate solutions, and taking concrete actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. States like Pennsylvania must take action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and protect our communities, economies, infrastructures, and environments from the risks of a warming climate.”
The United States Climate Alliance is a bipartisan coalition of governors committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Led by state governments, the alliance facilitates state cooperation to accelerate the deployment of climate solutions to help each state achieve its climate goals.
“I applaud the efforts of the governor and his administration to address the impacts of climate change in the commonwealth head on,” said Rep. Steve McCarter (D-Montgomery), Chair of the bipartisan House/Senate Climate Caucus. “The Pennsylvania Climate Caucus stands ready to help in any way to advance policy and legislation to meet what is surely humanity’s greatest challenge here in Pennsylvania and across the globe.”
“When future generations of Pennsylvanians look back at this critical moment in history, I want them to know they were not abandoned,” Sen. Steven Santarsiero (D-Bucks) said. “Entering into the U.S. Climate Alliance and implementing the Climate Action Plan sends a clear message that Pennsylvania is serious about addressing climate change.”
In January 2019, Gov. Wolf signed an executive order to set Pennsylvania’s first statewide climate goals, aiming to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 26 percent by 2025 and 80 percent by 2050, compared with 2005 levels.
The executive order also established the Green Government Council to ensure that state government offices lead by example to help achieve these goals.
More On Plan Update
The Pennsylvania Climate Action Plan 2018 is the new state climate plan developed by DEP and state agency partners with recommendations for government leaders, businesses, and citizens to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to a changing climate.
“Perhaps the biggest recommendation of the Climate Action Plan is that a team effort is needed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in Pennsylvania,” said DEP Secretary Patrick McDonnell. “Government leaders must lead by example, and businesses, farms, community organizations, and citizens can all make a difference to fight climate change.”
“Trees and forests play an important role absorbing carbon dioxide and reducing greenhouse gas emissions,” DCNR Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn said. “We’re leading the way to a more resilient and sustainable Pennsylvania by managing forests in new ways, reforesting abandoned mine lands, and planting stream buffers to increase carbon storage.”
Pennsylvania Climate Action Plan 2018 marks 10 years since state law first required the DEP to develop a climate plan and periodic updates. It’s the third update to the first plan, which was published in 2009.
The Climate Caucus is a bipartisan discussion forum for legislators from both chambers and both sides of the aisle to address all manner of issues relating to climate change in Pennsylvania, including jobs, industry, manufacturing, clean air, clean water, specific regional impacts, and others.
For more information, visit the PA Climate Change webpage.
Sen. Gene Yaw (R-Lycoming), Majority Chair of the Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee, statement on the Governor's climate announcement-- “While the Action Plan released today includes many sweeping new recommendations, we need to be pragmatic.
“Markets move and markets fluctuate, and I believe Pennsylvania is at the forefront of clean energy technology that is already reducing greenhouse gas emissions across the board. Reports have indicated that emissions levels are at their lowest levels since 1992.
“ I don’t believe that mandating nearly 90% of Pennsylvania’s competitive energy market or more is a step in the right direction.
“The plan released today does not clearly define any benefits to be achieved and delivered to the citizens of Pennsylvania if these recommendations are implemented. Further, the plan does not come close to meeting the reductions the Department says are necessary if adopted.”
The Clean Power PA Coalition issued the following statement in response to the climate announcements: “We are pleased by Gov. Wolf’s decision to join the U.S. Climate Alliance, as it represents an important symbol of Pennsylvania’s commitment to comprehensive climate change solutions.
“This is the third in a series of commitments Governor Wolf has made on climate action, including his Executive Order earlier this year setting the first-ever carbon emission reduction goals for the state and his addition of Pennsylvania to the Transportation Climate Initiative in late 2018. We are heartened by Gov. Wolf’s continued steps toward tackling climate change for Pennsylvania families now and for future generations.
“It is also imperative that we continually advance the work set forth in Pennsylvania’s Climate Action Plan. We commend Secretary McDonnell and the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection for this commitment to reduce the pollution driving climate change and its serious impacts across the commonwealth.
“We still need action from the executive branch and especially our elected officials in the Pennsylvania General Assembly to advance policies that will significantly scale up the deployment of renewable energy as well as set a declining, enforceable limit on carbon pollution from power plants.
“Both steps are necessary elements of a comprehensive solution to tackle climate change and will benefit Pennsylvanians by building a clean energy future that protects public health, powers a strong economy focused on renewable energy and ensures a resilient environment.
“Our coalition supports Senate Bill 600 and House Bill 1195, legislation that will modernize Pennsylvania’s Alternative Energy Portfolio Standard (AEPS) by increasing the Tier I target for renewable energy such as wind and solar to 30 percent by 2030. We also support the development of legislation or regulation that would set enforceable and declining limits on carbon pollution and urge immediate action to move forward on such a policy.
“Scientists tell us we have a small window of time left in order to prevent the most catastrophic impacts of climate change beyond the dangerous impacts we are already experiencing.
“With leadership from Gov. Wolf and the General Assembly, we can build on the strong commitments that have already been made and couple them with equally strong policies that will create jobs and keep our families healthy.”
Andrew Williams, Director of Regulatory and Legislative Affairs, Environmental Defense Fund issued this statement-- “The Climate Action Plan unveiled today by Gov. Wolf presents Pennsylvania with the opportunity to take meaningful climate action while protecting Pennsylvania communities and preserving a healthy economy. The biggest area of opportunity is aggressively limiting carbon emissions from the power sector. Power sector limits coupled with direct regulation of methane emissions are the 1-2 punch in the fight against climate change that, if implemented, can put Pennsylvania on the road to success.”
Mark Szybist, Natural Resources Defense Council, issue this statement on the announcement-- “By joining the Climate Alliance, Governor Wolf is assuming the mantle of leadership to fight climate change and ensure Pennsylvania is part of the solution.
"Following the Governor’s recent Executive Order setting goals for the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, membership in the Alliance creates momentum for real climate progress in Pennsylvania.
"We look forward to strong actions from the executive branch and our leaders in the Pennsylvania General Assembly to scale-up clean energy, establish an enforceable, declining limit on carbon pollution and put people to work while building a clean energy future that benefits all Pennsylvanians.”
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[Posted: April 29, 2019]
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