West Chester Porchfest, May 21, 2022

by Margaret Hudgings

Inspired by Transition thinking, the West Chester Green Team formed a committee and created a music festival for West Chester. 

What is Transition?  It is an international movement started in the UK whose goal is helping communities as they transition to a new economy–away from fossil fuels and to healthier forms of energy.  When people are in transition, they can feel isolated and lost.  They can also lack the skills needed to thrive in a new economy.  Transition towns try to address these issues.  They focus on teaching and modeling skills such as gardening, repairing items of all sorts, founding a buy nothing economy so people can offer items they no longer need to others who need them, and also creating celebrations to help everyone through challenging times.  Thus, WC Porchfest was born.

The Green Team followed the model of another international movement in creating this event locally.  PORCHFEST originated in Ithaca NY in 2007.  It has now spread across the US and Canada. Porchfest events bring local musicians and neighborhoods together to celebrate and create a sense of community.  We used the blueprint of Porchfest in Binghamton, NY provided to us by a member who has attended other Porchfest events.

Our committee had representatives recruiting bands and front porches, getting sponsorships, interfacing with local government, making maps, arranging food trucks, interfacing with the local community and handling publicity.  Saturday, May 21 is Porchfest Day.  Hoping now for lovely weather and lots of fun.

The GT Porchfest Committee projected about 20 musical acts for our first year but closed registration when we reached 52.  We also have 36 front porches and a local church which is welcoming attendees by setting up outdoor tables with seating for 50, adjacent to a gathering of food trucks. 

The musical acts range from jazz to classical with lots of rock and some unique additions such as a performance of organ grinder music boxes by a local collector and a Japanese singer who will also demonstrate how to dress in kimono.  A local dance studio will perform in the park. Children’s activities will be there and include arts and crafts, planting and a musical instrument petting zoo. 

The local food co-op will provide free strawberry shortcake, and the Buy Nothing group will host an old fashioned white elephant fishing pond.  We have also added in 2 porch displays of our environmental work, one based on Doug Tallamy’s vision of planting native species of flowers and trees and another featuring our newest Dark Sky Committee.  

We benefited from the help of local leaders with Mayor Lillian DeBaptiste cosponsoring the event.  We highly recommend the Porchfest model for community outreach, as we are connecting with a new demographic.  We are not preaching to the choir as so often happens with green events. And Porchfest is upbeat.  It is essential to inspire and energize our supporters and this event seems an excellent vehicle for delivering our message.  

CO2 Budget Trading Program / RGGI

On Earth Day, fittingly, Pennsylvania joined the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative. Year by year, the cap on CO2 emissions from power plants decreases and as a result utilities will have to decrease their carbon pollution or pay more to pollute the rest of us.

The state will then invest hundreds of millions of dollars in fees to improve air quality through measures like energy efficiency and clean energy promotion.

It’s about time for this, because for over a century our state’s power plants have been paying no compensation to emit pollutants that damage the environment and human health. Now, they stop or they pay!

Finally PA joins the northeastern states and the large embarrassing gap in the map of RGGI states from C2ES can be colored in!

Read more from the Sierra Club , the RGGI site, and on our own site.

Tredyffrin Rain Garden Program

from Tredyffrin EAC

Tredyffrin Rain Gardens is a program started in 2021 by the Tredyffrin Environmental Advisory Council and the TE Green Team to take action on stormwater and water pollution in our Township. This volunteer-led group has installed an educational rain garden at the Tredyffrin Public Library and will be launching the residential rain garden program in 2022.

Rain gardens are excellent for areas like Tredyffrin, which has seen significant damage from stormwater. …

Beginning on January 10, 2022, residents of Tredyffrin can apply to receive a rain garden on their property. Residents will have a co-pay of $100 and will have an obligation to take care of the garden for many years, will have to display a sign, will have to volunteer hours back to the program and more. However, the remaining cost of installing the garden will be covered by a grant the Township received and with volunteer hours. This is neighbors helping neighbors to solve a problem that affects us all.

Read the full post at Tredyffrin EAC

AG Shapiro, halt construction!

Today, Monday January 10th, contact PA Attorney General Josh Shapiro and demand that he file the emergency injunction of Mariner East pipeline construction and the nuisance lawsuit, as requested by Pennsylvania legislators last week. 
In October 2021, the PA Attorney General’s office announced 48 criminal charges for environmental crimes against the operator of this dangerous pipeline. Despite this, the state’s Department of Environmental Protection approved new permits at this site. And now Marsh Creek lake continues to be contaminated as construction resumes.

This is an opportunity for Josh Shapiro to show us what kind of leadership Pennsylvanians could expect from him, should he be elected to Governor in 2023. Help protect the clean water and natural beauty of Pennsylvania. 
🖊 tinyurl.com/HaltMariner
📞 570-904-2643
📧 EnvironmentalCrimes@attorneygeneral.gov

Outline of Chesco clean energy tour

See the calendar on our home page for details of the tour, Oct. 2-3, and how to take it virtually.

Name of SiteName of SubmitterFeatures
Hillside Elementary School Green Roof
Berwyn, PA
Jennifer Cox/ Conestoga High School studentsSustainable Features: Green Roof Site Type School Organization: Hillside Elementary School, in the Tredyffrin-Eastown School District
West Chester University Geothermal Exchange System
West Chester, PA
Brad Flamm, Director, Office of Sustainability, WCU
Sustainable Features Geothermal Site Type University Organization: West Chester University of Pennsylvania
Haaf Home Energy Tour
Kennett Square, PA
Bill Haaf
Sustainable Features Composting, Energy Efficiency Upgrades, Geothermal, Heat Pump(s), Passive Solar, Other Other Sustainable Features: • Advanced lighting (LEDs), programmable thermostats, native plants/water-retentive plantings, spray PU foam insulation, strategies for energy efficiency in existing home. System Size (in kW): 6.7 Solar Site Type Home
Energy Efficiency Beats S&P
West Chester, PA
Bryan Hutchinson
Sustainable Features Energy Efficiency Upgrades, Heat Pump(s), Solar PV – Rooftop System Size (in kW): 7.14 Solar Site Type Home
Solar Stone Barn
Chadds Ford, PA
Richard Leff
Sustainable Features Battery Storage, Electric Vehicle(s), Geothermal System Size (in kW): 10 Solar Site Type Home
Central Baptist Church, Wayne, Gets to Zero Net Emissions
Wayne, {A
Chuck Marshall
Sustainable Features Energy Efficiency Upgrades, Net zero, Solar PV – Rooftop Solar Site Type Religious Institution
Rooftop Made for Solar
Chester Springs, PA
Kathy McDevitt
Sustainable Features Electric Vehicle(s), Energy Efficiency Upgrades, Solar PV – Rooftop System Size (in kW): 13.26 kW Solar Site Type Home
The McGowan Home
Coatesville, PA
Brian McGowan
Sustainable Features Battery Storage, Energy Efficiency Upgrades, Solar Thermal, Wind Turbine(s) System Size (in kW): 3.96 kW Solar Site Type : Home
Stroud Water Research Center’s Moorhead Environmental Complex

Avondale, PA
Jessica Provinski, Stroud Development Department
Sustainable Features Composting, Electric Vehicle(s), Energy Efficiency Upgrades, Geothermal, Grey Water System, Heat Pump(s), Integrated Systems System Size (in kW): 17.860 kW Solar Site Type Nonprofit Organization
Geothermal Township Building /West Bradford
Downingtown, PA
Cheryl Wanko

Sustainable Features Geothermal Solar Site Type Government Building Organization: West Bradford Township
Geothermal Home
West Bradford, PA
Cheryl Wanko
Sustainable Features Geothermal Site Type Home
Nature Farm Solar Home
Chester Springs, PA
Dave Weber
Sustainable Features Composting, Electric Vehicle(s), Energy Efficiency Upgrades, Heat Pump(s), Passive Solar, Solar PV – Rooftop, Other Other Sustainable Features: Electric mower, on-demand electric hot water heater System Size (in kW): 10+ Solar Site Type Home
West Chester Borough Chestnut Street Garage Solar Canopy (drone video)
West Chester, PA
Jim Wylie,  the chair of the Southeastern PA Group, Sierra ClubSustainable Features Solar PV – Rooftop Other Sustainable Features: System Size (in kW): 79 Solar Site Type Government Building Organization: Solarize Greater West Chester
Strategies for a More Sustainable Home
Wayne, PA
Rutger Boerema
Sustainable Features Battery Storage, Composting, Electric Vehicle(s), Heat Pump(s) System Size (in kW): 8.16 Solar Site Type Home
Speksnijder Solar Site
West Chester, PA
Will ClaudioSustainable Features Battery Storage, Energy Efficiency Upgrades, Net zero, Solar PV – Rooftop Solar Site Type Home

PA Senate tries to sabotage RGGI

As the email below from Katie Blume of Conservation Voters of PA explains, the PA Senate just voted to prevent the state from joining the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), a program that has also greatly reduced greenhouse gases in adjoining states (RGGI-adopting states are shown in light green in the map below) and has generated hundreds of millions of dollars for clean energy and the needed energy transition… elsewhere than PA.

Pennsylvania has contributed far more than its share of earth-heating gases and is doing far less than its share to fix the problem. For more background from Flora Cardoni of PennEnvironment, see here. A coal power plant is about to shut down in the PIttsburgh area, dumping its own workers with 30 days notice. Funds from RGGI would have retrained those workers for other jobs.

What can we do? See how your PA Senator voted on the anti-RGGI bill, SB 119, and send your opinion. As Katie’s email explains:

I have infuriating news. The state Senate passed a bill yesterday evening that would take away Pennsylvania’s power to join the carbon reduction program called the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), which improves air quality and invests millions of dollars back into our public health. This bill could actually prevent the Department of Environmental Protection from working to reduce carbon pollution.

We deserve better than this. The passage of SB 119 would halt the pollution controls and economic benefits of RGGI that Pennsylvania communities and workers so desperately need. The decision is beyond reckless, especially since Pennsylvania consistently ranks in the top 5 states when it comes to greenhouse gas emissions and has the most premature deaths per capita caused by air pollution of any state.

The bill passed 35-15. There’s no question that lawmakers who sided with polluters by voting for this bill need to be held accountable — but the lawmakers who stood up against pressure from Big Polluters should be thanked for voting against it too, especially so that they hold firm if lawmakers attempt a veto override. Will you take a minute to see how your lawmaker voted and thank them if they voted against SB 119, or hold them accountable for blocking action to address climate change, clean our air, and raise revenue?

If we’re ever going to clean up our air and stave off climate change, Pennsylvania has got to change course and start implementing smart carbon reduction programs like RGGI. This cap-and-invest program will encourage companies to reduce their carbon emissions by putting a price on pollution. Those fees are expected to add $1.9 billion to the state’s economy by 2030, which would be invested back into PA communities and workers and generate a net increase of more than 27,000 jobs — many of which are sustainable, clean energy jobs. By putting a price tag on pollution, RGGI incentivizes energy producers to turn away from fossil fuels, cuts carbon, and proceeds will create investments in much needed energy efficiency programs to help reduce energy costs overall.

Having to pay to pollute isn’t popular with Big Polluters, and a misguided vote on SB 119 shows just how hard their lobbyists in Harrisburg are working to make sure that doesn’t happen. We’re holding accountable the lawmakers who put profits over the health of Pennsylvanians, and thanking the ones who were on the right side of history. 

Click here to find out how your state senator voted on SB 119, and send them a message to thank or hold them accountable for their vote.

Thanks for all that you do.

Katie Blume
Political Director
Conservation Voters of PA

Encouraging statistics about the green revolution

Report for Chester County Environmental Alliance, May, 2021, by Christi Marshall

I’d like to share a few encouraging statistics about the green revolution that is overtaking our waning reliance on fossil fuels.

Nigel Stickells / Wind Turbines, Vine House Farm, from Wikimedia Commons

Wind turbines currently provide over 9% of the energy in our country, and are our most prevalent form of renewable energy. I used to see the Empire State building every day out of my office window in Manhattan. So I was pleased to learn that this building, which includes so many offices that it is assigned its own ZIP Code, is now running completely on wind energy. The Empire State Realty Trust, which now owns the building, is committed to 100% wind turbine-generated energy purchased through Green Mountain Energy.

Since barely 2% of renewable energy is currently powering commercial buildings, this is an encouraging model.

One of the most prominent oil and gas mega giants, Exxon Mobil, often called the ultimate blue chip company, actually lost its place last year as one of the 30 companies in the Dow Jones industrial Average. Their purchase several years ago of a major natural gas company has been an investment disaster. They are now $60 billion in the red. And now three of its largest shareholders, all major pension funds with total assets of $850 billion, are attempting to force the replacement of four board members with individuals interested in transitioning to net zero emissions by 2050. These three pension fund managers all agree that Exxon Mobil must achieve this goal for the sake of the planet as well as the bottom line.

The well-regarded International Energy Agency aligned with the Paris Climate Accords recently made the bombshell announcement that there is now no further need for continued exploration of oil and gas reserves

Wind turbine energy now costs about $9 per 1000 kWh, compared to $23 for natural gas. Predictions indicate that the cost of wind turbine energy will decline by 50% over the next few years.

The less we rely on natural gas, the less need there will be for pipelines to transmit them under pressure through our beautiful Chester County!

(Update: the effort to replace at least 2 independent members on the Exxon Mobil Board was successful!)

Chester County heating up

Shall we be optimistic or pessimistic? It depends on what we and concerned people throughout the world do to put a lid on climate change. Heat over 90° is pretty dangerous, especially to those who must work outside; but just think, in the worst scenario below by the end of the century, of over 160 days a year of temperatures over 90°… up to and including over 105°!

Chart from Chester County Climate Action Plan draft – 2021, page 69:

Celebrating Earth Month, April 2021

Earth Day, going strong since 1970, was not enough; so, we got Earth Week and now Earth Month. Soon: Earth Year, every year!

What is available to us in Chester County this month? Please see the calendar above and click on events for details.

Locally, some events are now (at last!) in person, with distancing and masks, like the Goose Creek invasive plant removal on April 17 and the Art Stroll and Festival in West Chester on the actual Earth Day, April 22 (with also an online component featuring work of WCU students). Many of us are ready to start moving around outdoors!

Other events are virtual of local origin, like the Local Gardening and Living Landscapes panel on April 7, Why Our Pollinators Are in Trouble on April 13, the Plastic Free Chester County panel on April 21, and the Life of Rachel Carson one-woman performance on April 26.

Other events are virtual from state or national sources, allowing us to take part in oportunities that we probably could not have pre-Covid, such as the new film A River Reborn on April 8 or renowned climate scientist Katharine Hayhoe’s address “Christians, Climate, and our Culture in the U.S.” on April 22.

Furthermore, beginning April 22, the Colonial Theatre in Phoenixville is hosting Two documentaries on Plastics with on-site screening and, online, a documentary about Pennsylvania native Rachel Carson including two interviews with her.

And April 30 is Arbor Day: the perfect time to plant a tree in honor of Earth!

And much more! Please peruse the calendar carefully so you don’t miss anything you’d like to attend.