Author Archives: Nathaniel

Auditor General DePasquale: State’s Unfocused Efforts on Climate Change Crisis Risk Lives, Drive Costs to Taxpayers, Economy

News release from the Office of the PA Auditor General

Proactively addressing infrastructure needs would create new jobs

HARRISBURG (Nov. 13, 2019) – Auditor General Eugene DePasquale today said Pennsylvania must proactively plan for the changing climate, a problem that already threatens public safety and drives significant new costs for taxpayers.

“The longer we fail to act, the greater the risks to our environment, our economy and our future,” DePasquale said. “Climate change is a challenge that also presents an opportunity: by acting and investing now, we can not only save lives but also protect our economy and create jobs along the way.”

According to the U.S. Global Change Research Program, made up of 13 federal agencies, Earth’s climate is now changing faster than at any point in the history of modern civilization. A major report issued by the program late last year details threats to public health and safety from extreme heat and flooding; concerns about severe weather impacts on aging power, water, sewer and transportation systems; and the impact of altered ecosystems on rural communities, farming, forestry and tourism.

DePasquale released a special report, “Climate Crisis: The Rising Cost of Inaction,” which noted that severe weather is already costing taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars a year and that state government needs to do more to mitigate future impacts.

“My team and I documented at least $261 million in climate-related costs to Pennsylvania in 2018 alone in this report,” DePasquale said. “Half of that amount, $125.7 million, was in infrastructure damage statewide caused by record-breaking floods and landslides.”…

Read more and download the special report at the Office of the PA Auditor General.

Cut carbon emissions to save our health, planet

Letter in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Oct 22, 2019. Richard Whiteford and World Information Transfer are affiliated with CCEA.

Last November, both the United Nation’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reports said humanity has 12 years to cut carbon emission in half and to zero by 2045 or it is highly possible that humans may not survive the ravishes of climate change. These reports were compiled by over 2,000 peer reviewed climatologists from over 160 nations.

Despite this, Pennsylvania’s Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee scheduled a hearing to pass legislation to protect coal-fired power plants, the most polluting and CO2 emitting power source in existence, from a proposed carbon tax.

Heading this effort is Sen. Gene Yaw, R-Lycoming, supported by Reps. James Struzzi, R-Indiana, Donna Oberlander, R-Clarion, and Pam Snyder D-Green. Rep. Daryl Metcalf, R-Butler, is holding a House hearing on the same issue Oct. 28.

Their efforts, if successful, will increase CO2 emissions. Are they blind to the health care cost from burning coal, the cost of extreme storm damage from floods caused by a heating atmosphere (2017 was the worst on record costing Pennsylvania $163.5 million) or the economic benefits of the 90,772 clean energy jobs created in Pennsylvania in 2019?

Mr. Yaw pays lip service to clean energy but is working very hard to kill it behind the scenes. They whip out the same old saw that cutting fossil fuels will kill jobs, hurt the economy and disrupt our energy supply. Well, not if they strongly supported clean energy and gave it more incentives than given to the fossil industry.

What kind of moral ethics, or lack thereof, allow them to sacrifice the futures of our children to an uninhabitable planet to keep the dirty fossil industry alive? How old will your children be in 2045?

RICHARD WHITEFORD, Downingtown, Pa.
The writer is a climate change consultant and educator and a board member of the World Information Transfer.

Another terrible idea: SB 790

Naturally the fossil fuel industry wants to find a cheap way to get rid of its drilling water — the chemically contaminated and radioactive waste water that emerges from underground during the process or drilling for gas and oil.

And the industry has come up with spreading their waste product on dirt roads. What could possibly go wrong? Read one woman’s tale of what could and did go wrong at PennEnvironment.

The PA DEP was forced to put a moratorium on the procedure but now a bill is before the General Assembly to legalize it, along with other handouts to industry at the expense of public health and taxpayers.

To sign on to a letter protesting the bill, see here.

How much fossil fuel is your bank financing?

A report from BankTrack shows the amount various banks have lent to fossil fuel industries over the past few years. No wonder the frackers won’t go away! Download the report here.

A recent video The Easiest Change You Can Make | In Depth recommends people switch to credit unions, which help local people rather than global polluters.

Excerpt from the BankTrack web site:

Banking on Climate Change 2019 is the tenth annual fossil fuel report card and the first ever analysis of funding from the world’s major private banks for the fossil fuel sector as a whole.
 
Expanded in scope, the report adds up lending and underwriting to 1,800 companies across the coal, oil and gas sectors globally over the past three years. The report also tracks fossil fuel expansion by aggregating data on which banks are financing the 100 companies most aggressively expanding fossil fuels.
 
Banking on Climate Change 2019 reveals that the four biggest global bankers of fossil fuels are all U.S. banks – JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo, Citi and Bank of America. Barclays of England, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group (MUFG) of Japan and RBC of Canada are also massive funders in this sector.  Notably, JPMorgan Chase is by far the worst banker of fossil fuels and fossil fuel expansion – and therefore the world’s worst banker of climate change. Since the Paris Agreement, JPMorgan Chase has provided $196 billion in finance for fossil fuels, 10% of all fossil fuel finance from the 33 major global banks.
 
JPMorgan’s volume of finance for fossil fuels 2016-2018 is a shocking 29% higher than the second placed bank, Wells Fargo. The bank stands out even more from its peers in its volume of financing for the top companies expanding fossil fuel extraction and infrastructure: since the Paris climate agreement, JPMorgan Chase’s $67 billion in finance for the expanders is fully 68% higher than that of Citi, in distant second place.
 
With Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs in 11th and 12th places respectively in the fossil fuel financing league table, all of the big six U.S. banking giants are in the top dirty dozen bankers of climate change. Together, U.S. banks account for 37% of all global fossil fuel financing. Collectively, the U.S. banks are the biggest source of funding for fossil fuel expansion since the Paris Agreement was adopted…

Apply by Oct. 18 to Chester County Environmental and Energy Advisory Board

UPDATE to our Sept. 17 post: “Resumes and cover letters from people who are interested in being considered for a position on the Board… can be sent to Deputy County Administrator Kara Rahn at krahn@chesco.org by Friday, October 18, 2019.”

Chester County has just set up a Chester County Environmental and Energy Advisory Board to make recommendations to the County, municipalities, the public, and businesses. The official description is below. The County will soon be taking steps to secure the needed 22 members. Citizens are entitled to 4 of the 22 seats.

The other 18 members are: 7 officials ex officio; 4 representatives of businesses; 2 each of land conservancies and utility companies; and 1 each of 3 other associations. When application and selection guidelines are published, we will know whether the organizations in each category will basically select the members, or recommend candidates to the Commissioners, or neither. Let’s hope that the Board will rapidly stimulate actual badly-needed changes in policy and practice.

COUNTY OF CHESTER ENVIRONMENTAL AND ENERGY ADVISORY BOARD

Purpose: The purpose of the Chester County Environmental and Energy Advisory Board is to provide recommendations to the Board of Commissioners, applicable County departments, municipalities, citizens, and businesses by:

Recommending best environmental and energy practices in the areas of buildings, facilities and operations; fuels, vehicles, and transportation; food; responsible purchasing; housing; energy sources; air quality; stormwater management; natural resource protection; and climate change.

Identifying environmental and energy policies the County has adopted and recommending ways to promote and educate about Chester County’s environmental and energy initiatives.

Identifying and recommending voluntary actions, projects, and programs for municipalities, businesses, non-profits, and other partners to implement county environmental and energy policies.

Reviewing and providing input into a Climate Action Plan.

Recommending environmental and energy related actions, projects, and programs to the Board of Commissioners for implementation

Membership: The membership of the Chester County Environmental and Energy Advisory Board shall be appointed by the Chester County Board of Commissioners and shall be selected so as to represent the citizens, businesses, and the County. The Membership of the Advisory Board shall include:

Four Chester County citizens

Four Chester County business representatives

One representative of Chester County Economic Development Council’s Smart Energy Initiative (SEI)

One representative of Chester County Association of Township Officials

One representative of Chester County Municipal Managers Consortium

Two representatives of Chester County’s land conservancies

Two representatives of Utility companies serving Chester County

Executive Director of Chester County Planning Commission

Executive Director of Chester County Water Resources Authority

Chester County Director of Open Space, Parks and Trails

Chester County Director of Emergency Services

Director of Chester County Conservation District

Director of Chester County Facilities Management

Director of Chester County Health Department

The Chairman of the Chester County Environmental and Energy Advisory Board may appoint experts to the Board, as necessary, however those appointed experts shall not have a vote.

Vacancies shall be filled by the Chester County Board of Commissioners. County staff board seats will be ex-officio members.

Terms: The term of each of the members of the board shall be two years, except that, when the board is first created, half of the members shall be appointed for three years and half for two years.

CCL’s Danny Richter talks about H.R. 763 on NPR’s 1A

email from Citizens’ Climate Lobby, 10/9/19

The Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act got some major media exposure recently when it was the topic of conversation on the NPR show 1A. CCL VP for Government Affairs Danny Richter was among a panel of guests talking about carbon pricing. He said the thing that sets H.R. 763 apart is the steep rate of increase for the carbon fee and the fact that revenue is returned to households.

Why has this bill gained traction? Danny said CCL worked outside the Beltway, “educating people in [nearly all] districts and teaching them about this policy… then they’ve been going back to the Beltway and building support there. So the key for us has been to go outside of the Beltway.”

Listen to Danny’s interview on 1A and share the program on social media.