Oppose HR 815, an attack on global warming solutions
On behalf of PennEnvironment's citizen members, I am writing to ask you to oppose HR 815 in Monday’s Environmental Resources and Energy committee meeting. While non-binding, HR 815 is a short-sighted effort to oppose much-needed efforts to tackle global warming.
HR815 is meant to oppose the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Clean Power Plan, which is a reasonable and common-sense proposal to limit global warming pollution from the single largest source in the U.S.—dirty power plants. These facilities are the source of about half of Pennsylvania’s global warming emissions.
Incredibly, HR815 was drafted and introduced in opposition to the proposal without the sponsors having the ability to actually read EPA’s proposed rule. HR815 was referred to the House Environmental Resources and Energy Committee on April 29, 2014—yet the EPA’s proposal was not released publicly until June 2, 2014. For this reason it may not be surprising that some of the things called for in HR815, like giving states the ability to choose ways in which to hit the reductions laid out in the Clean Power Plan based upon the state’s respective energy mix and other factors, already exist in EPA’s proposed rule that was publicly release early last week.
Still, many special interests have been working aggressively to oppose this proposal even before they’ve had a chance to review it. This is the case even though EPA’s Clean Power Plan has been lauded by many of the nation’s largest electric suppliers, including utility companies here in Pennsylvania. Last week, a FirstEnergy spokesperson was quoted in an Associated Press story as stating, "FirstEnergy believes it is in a strong position to meet the requirements in the proposed rule" through investments in emissions controls and plant retirements. s
Given all of this, it is disappointing that HR815 urges EPA to limit its action to “measures undertaken at fossil-fueled power plants”—and exclude other important steps that not only reduce global warming pollution but reduce utility bills for the Commonwealth, and Pennsylvania businesses and residents.
Should EPA follow the advice of HR815, they would be abandoning the most effective – and the cheapest – tools available to clean up global warming pollution from power plants. For example, energy efficiency is two to three times cheaper than any other source of power—yet HR815 calls on EPA to avoid taking the commonsense actions of energy conservation and efficiency to tackle climate change.
Promoting and implementing global warming solutions is urgent and important, as the National Climate Assessment warned earlier this year. Their report, the most comprehensive report on global warming ever issued in the United States, warns that heavy precipitation events will become increasingly common in Pennsylvania and across the Northeast. Heavier rainfall and higher seas will exacerbate the damage from weather-related events like Superstorm Sandy, which caused $60-$80 billion in damages; will lead to more extreme rainfall and flooding, like the storms that recently led to the evacuation of the governor’s mansion in Harrisburg and more than one-hundred thousand residents of Scranton-area; and global warming is predicted to lead to increasingly hot summer days for the Commonwealth.
Without urgent action, the impacts of global warming could become far worse. But if policymakers take action now to promote solutions to global warming, there is still time to prevent the worst impacts of climate change. We should use every available tool – including measures such as increased energy efficiency and more widespread renewable generation – to get the job done.
For these reasons, PennEnvironment calls upon our elected officials to oppose HR 815. Instead, we urge the legislature to support using all available tools to clean up global warming pollution from power plants, to support the EPA’s Clean Power Plan, and to support an effective implementation of the plan here in Pennsylvania.