Category Archives: Pennsylvania

Otten introduces plan to amend Pa. constitution for local self-government

[Why is this important for environment and sustainability? The US says states can’t protect themselves (e.g., by setting their own gas mileage standards) and the state says counties and municipalities can’t protect themselves (e.g., by regulating petroleum products pipelines). It’s time for municipalities to take back the right to work for the health, safety and welfare of their own residents. If the state of Pennsylvania cannot adequately implement its own constitution’s environmental rights amendment, then the levels of government closer to the grassroots need to do the job.]

Rep. Danielle Friel Otten, October 3, 2019 | 5:13 PM

Area officials support efforts

EXTON, Oct. 3 – State Rep. Danielle Friel Otten, D-Chester, today announced a proposal for an amendment to the Pennsylvania constitution.

Otten’s amendment, H.B. 1813, would allow municipal governments to enact laws protecting the health and safety of their communities without interference from corporations or pre-emption by the state or federal government.

“Today, I stood with local elected officials and members of our community to announce a proposal for an amendment to the Pennsylvania constitution that would recognize the fundamental right of the people to local self-government and place the rights of citizens over the interests of private corporations,” Otten said. “Under current law in Pennsylvania, corporations can sue state and federal governments to override community attempts to protect themselves from projects with the potential to cause great personal or environmental harm. It is time we correct that failure.”

Otten was joined by Uwchlan Township Supervisor Bill Miller, West Chester Mayor Dianne Herrin, community organizer and Downingtown Area School Board director Rebecca Britton, PA Community Rights Network President Malinda Harnish Clatterbuck and a volunteer leader with the Pennsylvania chapter of Moms Demand Action, Erin Buchner.

Miller noted the current inability of townships to regulate the proliferation of cellular towers, the presence of guns in local parks or the sale of fireworks within township borders.

Uwchlan Township Supervisor Mayme Baumann also expressed support for the proposed amendment, stating, “Pennsylvania is a diverse patchwork of rural townships, suburban areas, small towns, and cities. This amendment would help us create a government that better reflects the values of our communities and gives municipalities the ability to protect their residents’ health, safety and natural resources.”

Britton discussed the importance of the legislation for communities living with pipeline construction, noting that “we the people can no longer protect our property as guaranteed us by the Pennsylvania constitution, because a private entity is shipping off our natural resources for plastics production, and in turn has put our private property at risk.”

Buchner commented on the need for the amendment as it relates to gun safety.

“Pre-emption laws override commonsense. In Pennsylvania, the state legislature has prohibited guns in the state Capitol and on state properties, while at the same time it pre-empts local governments from restricting guns in municipal buildings or in any city or town hall.”

Herrin described the ways that pre-emption ties her hands as a mayor on issues including gun safety, environmental initiatives, and taxing authority.

“We have a $20 million unfunded pension liability in West Chester because we have a large police force,” Herrin said. “I can’t protect my constituents from carrying the tax burden because the state will not allow us to generate revenue in any other way than through three very limited taxing authorities.”

Harnish Clatterbuck discussed the impact when a pipeline project called Atlantic Sunrise came through her Lancaster County community.

“We discovered that a company in Oklahoma had more power to do on our property what they wanted than we had the right to stop them. We were overruled by the regulatory agencies and by pre-emption, which has allowed our elected officials in Harrisburg and Washington to violate the health and safety of the people they have been elected to represent.”

For more information, those interested can call Otten’s office at 484-200-8259.

Stop the Attack on Pennsylvania’s Clean Energy Future

Our energy grid operator is impeding renewable energy; who knew? Here’s an easy way to ask Attorney General Josh Shapiro to safeguard Pennsylvania’s clean energy policies (which of course always need improving, and certainly not undermining!):

from Union of Concerned Scientists

It’s likely that the main connection you have to our electricity system is your local utility, which directly provides you with your electricity and bills you monthly. But behind the utilities, there’s another system made up of regional grid operators, which coordinate the transmission of electricity from generators to local utilities who then distribute the power directly to you.

Unfortunately, your energy grid operator, PJM Interconnection, has been advocating for a rule that would undermine state clean energy policies and prop up fossil fuels and make clean energy costlier for consumers like you.

It’s up to state attorneys general to defend state laws, including renewable energy standards and other clean energy policies, from attempts to undermine them like this.

Write today and urge your state attorney general to speak out against PJM’s proposed rule and to stand up for clean energy momentum in your state.

It’s crucial that state leaders like your attorney general speak out against this dirty rule and stand up for the voices of consumers and constituents.

Sign the petition to AG Shapiro at Union of Concerned Scientists

Solar energy on the ground

PA Has a Climate Action Plan – Now PA Needs Climate Action

Mark Szybist, NRDC, 5/6/19

Last week, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf joined the U.S. Climate Alliance and his Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) unveiled a new Climate Action Plan. These are welcome and exciting developments, but they also highlight how much work the Commonwealth has to do – especially in the power sector – to cut economy-wide emissions 80 percent by 2050, the goal set by Wolf’s recent Executive Order on climate.

Pennsylvania’s Climate Change Act

Pennsylvania’s Climate Change Act of 2008 requires the DEP to assess the “potential impact of climate change” on the state’s people, economy and natural resources, and to create a Climate Action Plan that recommends strategies to mitigate the impacts. The DEP must evaluate the costs, benefits, and economic opportunities of mitigation policies, and the plan must be updated every three years.

This year’s Climate Action Plan, the DEP’s fourth since 2009, is the first to detail strategies for adapting to climate change impacts, as well as strategies for cutting pollution. That’s because the impacts of climate change are not just “potential” in Pennsylvania; they’re occurring, mostly in the form of extreme weather, and Pennsylvanians are paying for it. One striking statistic from the Plan is that since 2006, the state Department of Transportation has spent over $190 million to recover from more and more flood-related disasters….

read more and see many links at NRDC