This weekend, Representative Wendi Thomas (R-Bucks) became the 100th member of the Pennsylvania General Assembly to add their name as a cosponsor to legislation that would commit the commonwealth to 100% renewable energy by the year 2050.
“I support long term planning that works to balance renewable energy while maintaining economic growth, and I believe this bill does that,” said Rep. Thomas.
The lead sponsors for legislation to require Pennsylvania to transition to 100% renewable energy are state Rep. Chris Rabb (D-Philadelphia) in the House, and state Sen. Tom Killion (Delaware County) in the Senate. Killion’s bill is believed to be the first proposal of its kind introduced by a Republican in any state legislature in the nation.
“When it comes to Pennsylvanians committing to a just transition to 100% renewable energy, I recommend we follow the old aphorism that ‘people who say it can’t be done shouldn’t interrupt those who’re already doing it!’” said Rep. Rabb. “When enacted into law, this bill will codify the goals and means by which we will make these vital aspirations a reality by 2050--because our commonwealth’s brightest future must start now. And I have 99 colleagues in the PA General Assembly who agree that the future is green!”
“Embracing the clean energy revolution is the right thing for Pennsylvania,” noted Killion. “It means a cleaner environment and healthier lives for ourselves, our children and grandkids. It also positions our state to be a leader in green energy job creation. Passing this legislation will help ensure Pennsylvanians enjoy clean air and pure water for decades to come and the corresponding economic benefits of the clean energy economy.”
Under House Bill 1425 and Senate Bill 630, the Commonwealth would be required to devise a statewide plan to transition to 100 percent renewable energy by 2050. The legislation sets benchmarks for phasing out nonrenewable energy across all sectors by requiring 50 percent renewable energy by 2030, 80 percent renewable energy by 2040 and, ultimately, 100 percent renewable energy for all energy production sectors by 2050. It will also require all electricity generation to come from renewable sources by 2035.
This legislation requires truly clean energy like wind, solar, and geothermal and covers all sectors of energy in the commonwealth--not just electricity but also transportation, manufacturing, heating, etc.
The bill also prioritizes workforce development and front-line communities to ensure a just transition for all.
Among the 100 bipartisan legislators sponsoring the bill are:
- 21 Senators of the 26 needed to pass legislation through the chamber;
- 79 Representatives of the 102 needed to pass bills in the state House;
- 11 Republicans (7 Republican state Representatives and 4 Republican state Senators), including Sen. Tom Killion - the primary sponsor of the Senate bill;
- 70 of the 93 Democratic members of the House, including Rep. Chris Rabb - the primary sponsor of the House bill;
- 17 of the 22 Democratic members of the Senate.
“With support growing every day to implement the solutions needed to solve climate change, it’s now up to the Majority Leadership in the state House and Senate to bring these broadly supported bills up for a vote,” said David Masur, PennEnvironment Executive Director. “With the number of cosponsors in both chambers, it’s time to have a real dialogue and vote on legislation to tackle climate change.”
The intent of this legislation is to achieve what the scientific community has stated must be accomplished to avoid the worst effects of climate change: eliminating global warming pollution by 2050 to avoid a climate change “tipping point” from which the planet cannot turn back.
“Momentum for 100 renewable energy is building throughout the nation,” noted Masur. “Who would’ve thought that in the past 12 months alone, six states would commit to 100 percent clean energy. And it’s not just blue states - purple states like Maine and Nevada have made these commitments, paving that path for Pennsylvania to do it as well.”
Hawaii, California, New Mexico, Washington, Maine, Nevada, New York, and Puerto Rico have all passed similar legislation and additional legislation is pending in Colorado, Maryland and Massachusetts.
Polls show growing bipartisan support from Pennsylvania voters for aggressive action to tackle climate change. In March, a survey by Franklin and Marshall University found that 67 percent of registered voters in the Commonwealth agree that climate change is currently causing problems and 68 percent believe that the legislature should do more to combat it.
Pennsylvanians are already feeling the impacts of climate change, as throughout the summer, every corner of the state has faced dangerous heat waves, devastating flooding, and more frequent tornadoes. We need a swift transition to 100% renewable energy to stop these climate impacts from worsening.
“When we look back on who had the political will to do what it takes to protect our planet from the far-reaching negative effects of global warming, this will be the group of legislators recognized for their work in Pennsylvania,” said Masur “Because the question is NOT do we have the technological ability, the financial wherewithal, or the work ethic to tackle climate change—the only question is: do we have the political will?”
PennEnvironment is a citizen-funded environmental advocacy organization working to promote clean air, clean water, and protect Pennsylvania’s great natural heritage. For more information about this and PennEnvironment’s other work, visit www.PennEnvironment.org.