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Lawmakers urge Corbett to address climate change

By Randy Kraft, WFMZ.com Reporter, RKraft@wfmz.com
Published On: Jun 25 2013 04:50:19 PM CDT
Obama climate change speech
HARRISBURG, Pa. -

Several legislators from the Lehigh Valley area are among 41 state representatives urging Governor Tom Corbett to  take a leadership role to solve the problem of climate change.

The lawmakers signed a letter to the governor that was released in conjunction with President Barack Obama announcing his plan to address climate change Tuesday.

Among the signers are Democrats Thomas Caltagirone, Robert Freeman, Steve Samuelson and Steve Santarsiero.

The letter urges Corbett to immediately take three steps to address climate change: publicly acknowledge the serious nature of the problem, publicly acknowledge Pennsylvania's contribution to the problem and publicly commit Pennsylvania to doing its part to address the problem.

The letter was authored by state Rep. Greg Vitali, Democratic chairman of the House Environmental Resources and Energy Committee.

"Climate change is the most important problem facing the planet," said Vitali, D-Delaware. "President Obama's announcement is a positive step, but this problem must also be dealt with at the state and local levels."

In the letter, the legislators noted that Pennsylvania emits 1 percent of the world’s greenhouse gasses

"Now is the time to take action,'' the letter reads. "We must rapidly transition from fossil fuels like coal, oil and natural gas to renewable forms of energy like wind, solar and geothermal.

"The most effective thing Pennsylvania can do to expand its use of renewable energy is to amend The Alternative Energy Portfolio Standards Act to increase the amount of electricity from renewable sources that electric distribution companies like PECO and PPL must provide to their customers."

The letter notes that many other states, including New Jersey, have renewable energy portfolio standards significantly higher than Pennsylvania.

The letter also asks Corbett to implement recommendations contained in the 2009 Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection's Climate Change Action Plan. That plan recommends that the state  take 52 actions to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions 30 percent below year 2000 levels by 2020.

At the federal level, Obama's plan includes new regulations to limit carbon emissions from existing power plants, allows for more renewable sources, such as wind, solar and hydropower energy, to be placed on public lands, increases energy efficiency in federal buildings and calls for further efficiency in new cars. It also includes an $8 billion federal loan to encourage research and innovation into clean sources of energy.

"I refuse to condemn your generation, and future generations, to a planet that’s beyond fixing," Obama said during a speech at Georgetown University where he outlined his plan.

The president's plan also calls for more preparation for the impacts of climate change, such as more frequent hurricanes, droughts and wildfires. It also calls for international cooperation on raising clean energy standards.

The president's announcement and letter to Corbett come the same week that a new report from the U.S. Center for Naval Analyses and the London-based Royal United Services Institute, two of the NATO alliance's strategy centers, recommends putting more effort into fighting global warming than securing reliable supplies of fossil fuels.

The authors of that report say the only sustainable solution to the problem of energy insecurity is through energy efficiency and renewable fuels.