Climate Change Policy
Pollution regulations are one of the most important tools available to fight climate change. The Council is currently fighting for strong regulations of CO2 and methane at both the state and national level. These pollutants make up over 90% of America’s greenhouse gas emissions, and Pennsylvania is responsible for a full 1% of the world’s greenhouse gasses. This gives Pennsylvania a greater obligation to make meaningful cuts to it emissions through strong regulations.
n Pennsylvania, natural gas is rapidly replacing coal as the dominant energy source. While natural gas can burn cleaner than coal, it also leaks at every stage of the supply chain, causing a host of unique problems. First, natural gas leaks contain numerous air pollutants that can exacerbate asthma and lead to lung and heart disease, even cancer. Natural gas also contains methane, a potent greenhouse gas that causes 86 times more warming than carbon dioxide in the short-term. These leaks are no small matter either; recent studies have shown that official measures of methane leakage rates are vastly underestimated. Despite this clear and pressing problem, Pennsylvania currently has few regulations in place to cut methane pollution.
The Clean Power Plan is a proposed rule from the EPA to limit carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from power plants. Over the next 15 years, the rule will reduce CO2 emissions from the energy sector to 32% below 2005 emission levels, making it the most significant action the federal government has taken on climate to date. Each state has been given an individual reduction goal and one year to design a plan to meet those reductions. To calculate each state’s goal, the EPA used three main approaches to reduce CO2 emissions: improving coal plant efficiency, generating more electricity from existing natural gas plants, and building more renewable energy generation.
The Council is working hard to ensure Pennsylvania develops a strong plan to meet its required emissions reductions. In particular we are urging Pennsylvania to focus on developing renewal power as opposed to burning more natural gas, maximizing the implementation of energy efficiency, and ensuring that environmental justice communities are not disproportionately burdened by these changes.