Pa. must do its part to fight climate change

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Pennsylvania’s new Climate Change Action Plan is woefully inadequate. It fails to set greenhouse-gas reduction goals, fails to provide clear, quantifiable recommendations to meet those goals and fails to sufficiently incentivize renewable energy. Regrettably, this plan, recently released by the state Department of Environmental Protection, is consistent with Gov. Tom Corbett’s total lack of leadership on climate change.

Climate change is the most important environmental problem facing this planet. Pennsylvania produces 1 percent of the world’s greenhouse gases and has a responsibility to develop an action plan to address its share of this problem.

Not surprisingly, Mr. Corbett’s plan emphasizes the expansion of natural-gas usage and pays insufficient attention to renewable energy.

But natural gas is a fossil fuel and it produces a significant amount of greenhouse gas. We cannot achieve the carbon-dioxide reduction goals needed to stabilize Earth’s climate without greatly expanding our use of renewable energy like wind and solar.

Pennsylvania’s utility sector relies heavily on fossil fuels such as coal and natural gas to produce electricity. The best way to increase renewable energy production in the utility sector is to expand Pennsylvania’s alternative energy portfolio standard. Pennsylvania’s portfolio standard now requires electric companies to purchase only 8 percent of their power from renewable sources by 2020 — far short of neighboring states. Yet Mr. Corbett’s plan does not recommend an increase in this standard.

For Pennsylvania to meet its climate-change responsibilities, its governor must provide leadership. However, as this climate action plan reflects, leadership is sorely lacking in the Corbett administration.

The writer of Delaware County is the ranking Democrat on the House Environmental Resources and Energy Committee.

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