Major Businesses, Higher Ed Institutions Write To Members Of House, Senate Urging Pennsylvania To Accelerate Transition To A Low-Carbon Economy

More than a dozen major businesses and higher education institutions across Pennsylvania wrote to members of the state Senate and House calling on state lawmakers to prioritize policies that will accelerate the Commonwealth’s transition to a low-carbon economy by increasing in-state investment in energy efficiency, renewable energy and clean transportation.

They also recommended enacting smart, market-based solutions aimed at reducing carbon pollution, while directing any proceeds toward clean energy deployment, energy conservation, and enabling a just transition for impacted communities.

The investors, companies, colleges and universities, included American Eagle Outfitters Chatham University Dickinson College; DSM; Franklin & Marshall College; Friends Fiduciary Corporation; Haverford College; IKEA North America Services, LLC; Lafayette College; Lutron Electronics; Mars Incorporated; Montgomery County Community College; Muhlenberg College; Nestlé USA; Saint-Gobain; Schneider Electric; Swarthmore College; and Villanova University.

“Pennsylvania has been an energy leader for centuries, but the current energy system is at a turning point. In order to maintain our energy leadership, the Commonwealth should embrace clean energy and foster the rapid transition to a thriving, low-carbon economy,” they wrote in the letter.

Businesses and higher education institutions in Pennsylvania are already scaling up investments to reduce carbon pollution in their own operations as a way to meet stakeholder expectations, strengthen the economy and create new local jobs.

“AEO recently unveiled new sustainability goals, including a comprehensive plan to achieve carbon neutrality in all of our owned and operated facilities by 2030. Holding ourselves accountable and building a better world for generations to come is fundamental to our brands, values and purpose,” commented Michael Rempell, Chief Operations Officer at AEO Inc., which is headquartered in Pittsburgh. “We are proud to stand with Pennsylvania’s business leaders and academic institutions as we work together with state lawmakers to advance clean energy solutions.”

"Our students at Haverford understand that the energy policies our leaders enact today will shape the world they and their communities will inherit,” said President Wendy Raymond, Haverford College. “Pennsylvania has an opportunity to promote energy systems, economic innovation and public health that will make the Commonwealth stronger in the low-carbon future that we know is coming."

“Mars, Incorporated is committed to climate action and delivering on our science-based targets to help drive a low-carbon future,” said Ashley Allen, climate and land senior manager at Mars, which makes its Dove chocolates in Lancaster County. “Smart policies here in Pennsylvania help us and other companies invest in climate and energy solutions, and help Pennsylvania grow its economy sustainably and create new local jobs.”

“Nestlé powers about 75 percent of the electricity needs at our five Pennsylvania facilities with renewable energy, and we are working toward 100 percent renewable energy across all of our operations globally,” said Megan Villarreal, policy and public affairs at Nestlé, which operates five facilities in Lehigh and Cumberland Counties. “Transitioning to clean energy is not only the right thing to do, it also helps us to save money and stay competitive. With the right policies in place, Pennsylvania can attract more corporate clean energy investments and strengthen the state’s economy.”

“DSM has long recognized that reducing carbon pollution and strengthening the economy go hand in hand. That’s why at DSM we are working to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050 and also why we advocate for smart policies that will push us all to raise the bar," said Hugh Welsh, president & general counsel of DSM North America, which has facilities in Exton. "As more and more companies set their own ambitious goals, it’s time for Pennsylvania to embrace clean energy and drive the rapid transition to a low-carbon economy."

“Pennsylvania has an opportunity to model for the nation the benefits of a green economy, and that requires great acts of leadership by our General Assembly. It is an economic and societal imperative to support low-carbon policies that cut pollution, improve public health, reduce waste, lead to more efficient energy sources and attract businesses to Pennsylvania that are innovating in the areas of green technology," said President Margee M. Ensign, Dickinson College. "Our students are graduating with the knowledge and skill sets to tackle the challenges of climate change and issues threatening the environment. Let’s harness their talents and skills to create a more sustainable future.”

“Montgomery County Community College has had a longstanding commitment to sustainability, recognizing the importance of protecting our environment and natural resources today and for future generations," said Interim President Dr. Victoria Bastecki-Perez, Montgomery County Community College.  "The College wholeheartedly encourages policies that support a low-carbon economy. In 2007, MCCC signed the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment, pledging to be carbon neutral by 2050.”

“As an institution of higher education, we have knowledge and understanding of our most pressing environmental issues, including climate change.  It is our responsibility to transform this knowledge to meaningful action, leading the way to a low-carbon clean energy future by supporting policies that will help us get there," said Interim President Kathleen Harring, Ph.D, Muhlenberg College. "These policies will enable us to use our campus as a living laboratory, provide opportunities for our academic programs, and innovate in our physical operations in a way that can be replicated by others.” 

"Leaders in civil society can no longer remain on the sidelines. College and university presidents are uniquely positioned to educate and to advocate for an informed discussion about our collective options. We have a moral duty to care for the conditions of life on Earth and a civic responsibility to demand action from our government," said President Valerie Smith, Swarthmore College.

Last month Gov. Tom Wolf announced that the Commonwealth will begin the process of joining the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), a regional market-based program to curb carbon pollution from power plants.

Since it began in 2009, participating states have reduced carbon emissions by nearly 50 percent. At the same time, economic growth in participating states has surged and electricity prices have decreased despite an increase in average national electricity prices.

The Pennsylvania General Assembly can make the most of this market-based program for Pennsylvanians by ensuring proceeds are used to invest in clean energy solutions that will save businesses and consumers money.

Lawmakers are also considering complementary legislation to tackle carbon pollution and grow private investments in clean energy and clean transportation in the Keystone State, such as the Pennsylvania Clean Transportation Infrastructure Act as well as legislation to expand state renewable energy standards and strengthen Act 129 energy efficiency programs.

This announcement was released by Ceres and Second Nature.


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[Posted: November 26, 2019]


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