[Harrisburg, PA] - On Wednesday, hundreds of Pennsylvanians from Erie to Philadelphia and everywhere in between converged on the capitol building for the state’s largest annual citizen environmental lobby day. The attendees were joined by local and state legislators, clean energy businesses, religious leaders, health professionals, and even a 10-year-old child during a rally to advocate for legislation awaiting action in the Pennsylvania General Assembly that would require the Commonwealth to achieve 100 percent renewable energy by 2050 (HB 1425, SB 630). The legislation has bipartisan support from 20 state Senators and 70 state Representatives.
"It's time for politicians to stop listening to fossil fuel lobbyists who are holding our planet hostage with 19th century energy technologies," stated Flora Cardoni, Climate Defender Campaign Director for PennEnvironment. "They need to listen to their constituents who want to tap into our 21st century solutions to climate change."
“It’s time for those of us who believe in a just transition to a renewable energy-powered Pennsylvania to come together and raise our collective voice in Harrisburg to demand climate action and environmental justice,” said State Representative Chris Rabb (Philadelphia), lead sponsor of the House legislation for 100 percent renewable energy.
Citizens attending the lobby day came from more than 35 Pennsylvania counties and all corners of the Commonwealth came out to Harrisburg to call for a transition to 100 percent renewable energy on the timeline called for by the scientific community. Throughout the day, constituents sat down with more than 90 legislative offices and constituents stopped an additional 70 offices where they were unable to get meetings on the books to discuss how this transition could tackle climate change, save consumers money, and create clean energy jobs.
The lobby day attendees also held a massive rally in the capitol rotunda, calling attention to the need to tackle climate change and advocating for 100 percent renewable energy.
State Representative Elizabeth Fiedler (D-Philadelphia), called for bold action. “Climate change will devastate families across the Commonwealth and it will impact older Pennsylvanians, children, and poor and working class people soonest and hardest. Environmental justice and economic justice are deeply linked. We need a bold plan to transition to a renewable energy economy so that we can quite literally save our lives. That transition will bring jobs in wind, solar and energy efficiency and the opportunity to create a more just and fair economy that prioritizes the needs of frontline communities, poor and immigrant communities and our union brothers and sisters. Time is running out. We can do this, we must do this.”
Pennsylvania's 100 percent renewable legislation is believed to be the only bill of its kind with a Republican primary sponsor in the nation.
“Moving Pennsylvania to 100 percent renewable energy means thousands of new jobs for workers and a cleaner environment for our families,” said State Senator Tom Killion, lead sponsor of the Senate legislation for 100 percent renewable energy. “We must embrace the renewable energy revolution that is unfolding around the country. Our economic future and the health of our citizens and environment depend upon it.”
The momentum for 100 percent renewable energy has been growing across the nation. Four states have already passed legislation to go to 100 percent renewable energy and nine other states have introduced similar legislation.
“The solution to fixing the threat to our children’s health from air pollution is the same as fixing the global ecological catastrophe of plastic pollution and the planetary climate crisis threatening humans and all life forms. The solution is to stop extracting and burning fossil fuels and instead make other arrangements for energy, transportation, agriculture, and materials with 100% clean, sustainable, renewable energy,” said Dr. Ned Ketyer, board member of Physicians for Social Responsibility and a medical consultant for Southwest Pennsylvania Environmental Health Project.
While attendees hustled from meeting to meeting making the case for 100 percent renewable energy, clean energy business leaders showcased the growing renewable energy revolution in Pennsylvania at the PennEnvironment Clean Energy Expo. This expo included companies from all across Pennsylvania, including the Energy-Coop, a southeastern Pennsylvania non-profit organization that helps provide community members with 100% renewable electricity, and Solarize Allegheny which educated attendees on residential solar opportunities. Energy conservation and efficiency businesses, like Warren Energy Engineering and Swing Green also featured tips showing how Pennsylvanians can reduce energy consumption, thus reducing pollution and cutting costs.
"Today, approximately $5.5 trillion have been divested from the fossil fuel industry and faith-based organizations are leading the way at 27% of those institutions making divestment commitments," said The Rev. Dr. Vincent Kolb, Pastor of the 6th Presbyterian Church.
Rabbi Daniel Swartz, the Executive Director of the Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life (COEJL), echoed this sentiment: “Each morning, Jews give thanks to God for renewing creation continuously. What better way, then, to fulfill our obligations l’taken et ha olam, to help repair the world, than to work for a 100% renewable energy future for Pennsylvania. Let us keep faith with our children and our children’s children by starting to build that better future today.”
“I worry a lot about what my future will look like if we don’t do something about climate change,” says Caia Farrell, ten year old resident of South Philadelphia and member of the Kids Clean Air Force. “In 2050, I will be 41 years old. What will my life, and my friends’ lives, look like by then if we don’t act now? I think about this every day, and I’m just a kid. We need grown ups to do their part and help protect our planet.”
After a day of actions, meetings, and a rally, constituents left Harrisburg ready to keep working with their state elected officials to push forward a 100% renewable energy future for Pennsylvania.
PennEnvironment is a statewide, environmental advocacy organization with 140,000 supporters advocating for clean air, clean water and open spaces. For more information, visit www.PennEnvironment.org
Sponsors of 100% Renewable Energy Lobby Day: PennEnvironment, Bucks Audubon Society, Bucks/Mont Citizens Climate Lobby, Clean Air Council, Clean Water Action, Climate Reality Project: Pittsburgh and SWPA, Haverford Community Action Network (HCAN), Indivisible Chester County, Moms Clean Air Force - PA, PA Interfaith Power and Light, Ready for 100 of Southeastern PA, Send the Lorax to Washington, Social Justice Indivisible, ThriveFest.Us, and WayForward Group