Bill Would Limit Carbon Emissions from PA’s Power Sector, Transition to Renewables and Energy Efficiency

Members of the Clean Power PA Coalition gathered today in support of new legislation that would require dramatic reductions of carbon dioxide pollution from Pennsylvania’s power plants. Senator Steven Santarsiero (D- Bucks County) and Senator Art Haywood (D-Montgomery County) spoke in southeast Pennsylvania today about plans for the “Climate Change Mitigation and Energy Transition Act” alongside environmental leaders and renewable energy and energy efficiency advocates. State Senator Jay Costa (D-Allegheny County) is the prime sponsor of the legislation, which includes cosponsors from across the commonwealth.

“Pennsylvanians deserve to reap the benefits of a clean energy future,” said Mark Szybist, Senior Attorney at the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). “Paired with ambitious renewable energy and energy efficiency goals, this bill would slash harmful pollution, make much-needed investments in Pennsylvania communities, and help the state transition to a prosperous clean energy economy.”

The Climate Change Mitigation and Energy Transition Act would instruct Pennsylvania’s Environmental Quality Board (EQB) to reduce power-sector emissions at least 90% by 2040. The legislation would create an Energy Transition Fund to support programs that promote clean air, save consumers money and create jobs by in communities across Pennsylvania by expanding the use of renewable energy and energy efficiency.

“The Climate Change Mitigation and Energy Transition Act sends the right signal that we need to be shifting our energy production away from fossil fuels and toward renewable, clean energy such as solar,” said Mark Bortman, owner and founder of Exact Solar. “As we tackle climate change through this legislation, we can also create good-paying jobs right here in Pennsylvania, and I hope to be part of that effort. I believe this legislation will grow our clean energy economy and create a healthier future for our kids and grandkids.”

The bill also intends to specifically address communities disproportionately impacted by pollution. It will ensure that low-income consumers are protected from energy rate increases and provide for a “just transition” for workers and communities that need assistance in making the shift toward cleaner renewable energy technologies.

“Energy efficiency is one of the best investments we can make in our workforce and our communities,” said Steve Luxton, Executive Director and CEO of the Energy Coordinating Agency in Philadelphia. “We train approximately 500 individuals, with a particular emphasis on the under-employed and returning citizens, each year to do energy audits, weatherization and HVAC work and repairs, and the demand continues to grow for skilled workers in this industry. This legislation could greatly expand energy efficiency programs that would create jobs, save consumers money and create healthier and safer living spaces, especially in economically vulnerable communities like those we serve here at ECA.”

There is no legal limit on carbon dioxide pollution from Pennsylvania’s power sector and despite improvements, the commonwealth is still the third largest carbon emitter in the nation. Pennsylvania’s electric power sector is the largest source of carbon dioxide in the commonwealth and responsible for emitting more than 80 million tons of carbon pollution annually.

Without a limit on carbon pollution from power plants, new research from the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) indicates that carbon emissions will increase over the next 20 years as gas plants replace nuclear and coal plants, reversing all of the progress that Pennsylvania has made to date.

The Climate Change Mitigation and Energy Transition Act is a concrete policy that would help put Pennsylvania on a path to achieving the goals of the U.S. Climate Alliance, of which Pennsylvania is now a member. It would also align with the goals set forth in Governor Wolf’s January 2019 Executive Order.

The Climate Change Mitigation and Energy Transition Act will put Pennsylvania on the path to tackle climate change, making our families healthier, our environment safer, and building upon the more than 90,000 current jobs in Pennsylvania’s clean energy economy.

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