When the big bus with the fancy "I Will Act on Climate" paint job stopped in front of the United Steelworkers headquarters in Downtown Pittsburgh Friday afternoon, U.S. Rep. Mike Doyle got off just long enough to figuratively invite his fellow congressmen and local residents to get on board.
The Greyhound-style bus, which runs on biodiesel fuel when it's available, stopped in Pittsburgh as part of a 27-state tour to highlight and encourage local support for President Barack Obama's climate change initiatives aimed at controlling greenhouse gas emissions, especially those from older, coal-burning power plants.
The Forest Hills Democrat chided "too many" of his House colleagues for "refusing to acknowledge that climate change is happening" and said Congress needs to pass legislation quickly that reduces greenhouse gas emissions and boosts the economy. "If we ignore the rising sea levels and violent storms, there will be devastating environmental effects," Mr. Doyle said. "But we also need to talk about the rewards of getting climate change under control. Doing that would spur the economy and grow jobs."
He said Pittsburgh's transformation from a reliance on heavy industry to a diversified economy that values clean rivers, clean air and cleaner energy could be a model for the nation. Mr. Doyle also said Congress must end the across-the-board federal sequestration budget cuts that have drastically cut research and clean energy program funding.
Shawn Garvin, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency regional administrator, said the president's decision to have the EPA's adopt carbon standards for new and existing power plants should reduce those emissions by 3 billion tons by 2030. He said 40 percent of the carbon pollution emitted into the air in the U.S. comes from power plants, which have not previously been subject to carbon controls.
Mr. Garvin said there is also renewed focus on pushing for controls on the larger international carbon emitters, like China and India, and challenged individuals, local communities and states to work toward controlling climate change.
"We need everyone to be drivers, not just passengers on that bus out there," he said. "We need a grass-roots effort to control climate change."
Also on the bus as it traveled through Western Pennsylvania were Fred Redmond, USW international vice president; Randy Francisco, state organizing representative for the Sierra Club; Sam Williamson, assistant director of the Service Employees International Union Local 32BJ; and Lindsay Baxter, project manager for the Pennsylvania Environmental Council.
The bus tour started July 11 in Knoxville, Tenn., moved through the midwest, and left Pittsburgh for Bangor, Maine. From there it will work its way down the Atlantic coast, ending in Washington, D.C. on Aug. 19.
Don Hopey: firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-263-1983.