Pa climate change strategy being updated
HARRISBURG - With Superstorm Sandy's destruction reviving debate over global climate change, Pennsylvania's effort to fashion a response is nearing another milestone.
The state Climate Change Advisory Committee released a plan in late 2009 with non-binding recommendations aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions 30 percent statewide by 2020. The recommendations are advisory and lack the force of law. Among them is support for production of "low-carbon" electric power from renewable sources of energy, nuclear plants and natural gas.
Now the committee is preparing an update with new recommendations as required by a 2008 state law. The review is prompted by research showing Pennsylvania accounts for about 1 percent of worldwide emissions of greenhouse gases.
The committee is seeking to reduce emissions in five broad areas, said Kevin Sunday, spokesman for the state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). These are electric generation, industry, residential homes and commercial businesses, transportation and land use and agriculture and forestry.
The scope of the committee's purview is wide-ranging with such topics as energy-efficient "green" roofs, no-till farming, reforestation and manure digesters under discussion.
The 2009 report includes recommendations to use more efficient lighting systems, an "eco-driving" program to offer fuel-saving tips and incentives to encourage less driving and more tree-planting in urban areas.
The committee's work also addresses the impact of increased drilling for natural gas in the Marcellus Shale region, for example.
While the 2009 plan supports natural gas use, efforts need to be made to control methane emissions from natural gas leakage from wells and pipelines, said Rep. Greg Vitali, D-166, Havertown, a sponsor of the 2008 law.
Vitali said it's important to pass new state laws to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and go a step beyond advisory recommendations.
He supports legislation to require electric companies to increase the amount of electricity generated by retail power that they sell to retail customers.
"We won't solve the greenhouse gas problem without increasing use of renewables," Vitali said.