The King of Prussia Mall is the largest suburban mall in the Philadelphia region with 400 stores, and a total of 31,500 people employed at the mall and nearby office parks. The mall is visited by about 68,000 people daily with 5,600 bus riders using six routes to and from the KOP area. Unfortunately, there is currently no rapid transit to get commuters and shoppers to the mall. That is why SEPTA and the King of Prussia business community are planning to extend the  Norristown High Speed Line, which skirts the edge of the KOP currently, the rest of the way to King of Prussia.  

Currently, it can take commuters from Philadelphia as much as two hours to get to work in King of Prussia on the bus, and drivers take an average of 70 minutes – both while navigating the unpredictable beast known as the Schuylkill Expressway. A light rail connection would ease the burden on our transit system and reduce traffic on the already congested expressways near the mall.According to the proposal, the new rail line would take around 40 minutes for the same trip, and offer an appealing option for people who have the choice between driving or public transit.

Clean Air Council was there to express its support for the project. Not only does the Council believe it will ease the commutes of transit riders and mall employees, this project will have a ripple effect on the region’s traffic problem. The more reliable transit lines the Delaware Valley has, the more likely commuters will choose to leave the car behind. This will ultimately reduce emissions, and let us all breathe a little easier.

The Council wrote a letter voicing its support, and sent Kamali Alloway, Sustainable Transportation and Special Events Outreach Coordinator, to read the letter aloud at the public hearing. You can read the letter here, and watch a video of Alloway reading the letter below. This project is still in the first stage, and its projected completion date is a few years away. Clean Air Council will keep you updated on developments as they occur. 

 

 

[Nov. 06, 2017-PHILADELPHIA] — On behalf of Clean Air Council and two Pennsylvania children, Hausfeld filed suit today in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania against the federal government to prevent it from rolling back policies, programs, laws, rules, and regulations previously in place to address and ameliorate climate change and its consequences. This pro bono litigation focuses on the federal government’s knowledge (dating back over fifty years) that climate change presents a clear and present danger to life, and represents an urgent and potentially irreversible threat to human societies and the planet. You can read the full complaint here.

The United States has experienced a steady increase in extreme weather events caused by climate change, as exemplified most recently by the devastating impact of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, and the October California wildfires. If not adequately addressed, climate change will cause human deaths, shorten human life spans, result in widespread damage to property, threaten human food sources, drastically affect human air quality, and dramatically alter the planet’s ecosystem to the detriment of the plaintiffs in this case, their children and grandchildren, and all future generations.

The federal government has relied on junk science to implement reckless climate change policies in the face of indisputable U.S. and international scientific consensus. It is the government’s responsibility to protect the lives and welfare of citizens and the life-sustaining resources they depend on. These acts of deliberate indifference are increasing U.S. contributions to climate change, thereby increasing the frequency and intensity of its life-threatening effects, and violating the constitutional rights of all U.S. citizens.

Plaintiffs are leading Philadelphia environmental nonprofit Clean Air Council and two child plaintiffs who have been personally impacted by climate change. The Federal Government Defendants include President Donald Trump, the Department of Energy, Secretary Rick Perry, the Environmental Protection Agency, and Administrator Scott Pruitt.

Clean Air Council Executive Director and Chief Counsel Joseph Minott said: “We will not stand idly by while President Trump and his agencies raze crucial environmental protections, ignore climate science, dispute well-documented facts and force future generations of Americans to suffer the consequences of this administration’s reckless choices and ignorant policies. We must hold the federal government accountable for the long-term environmental harm that is propagating under its direction. It’s time to fight back.”

Scientists refer to climate change as the most important issue of our time. Human contribution to climate change, which exacerbates its effects, has reached a critical moment, the consequences of which are potentially irreversible. Hausfeld Chairman Michael D. Hausfeld stated: “By deliberately engaging in this rollback of climate policies and programs, the government is affirmatively endangering the lives and welfare of its citizens.”

This lawsuit comes on the heels of the federal government’s release of the National Climate Assessment, which, in stark contrast to the administration’s environmental policies, affirms that climate change is almost entirely caused by human action and is a growing threat to the United States.

Hausfeld attorneys working on this case include Michael D. Hausfeld, Seth R. Gassman, Katie R. Beran, Braden Beard, and Michaela Spero.

For further information or to arrange interviews please contact:

Deborah Schwartz
Media Relations
(240) 355-8838
deborah@mediarelationsinc.com

Jamie Kloss
Braithwaite Communications
(215) 564-3200 ext. 162
jamie@gobraithwaite.com

NOTES TO EDITORS

About Hausfeld

Hausfeld is a leading global law firm with offices in Berlin, Boston, Brussels, Düsseldorf, London, New York, Philadelphia, San Francisco, and Washington, DC. The firm has a broad range of complex litigation expertise, particularly in antitrust/competition, financial services, sports and entertainment, environmental, mass torts, consumer protection, and human rights matters, often with an international dimension. Hausfeld aims to achieve the best possible results for clients through its practical and commercial approach, avoiding litigation where feasible, yet litigating robustly when necessary. Hausfeld’s extensive experience with alternative and innovative fee models offers clients a diverse menu of engagement options and maximum flexibility in terms of managing their cost exposure.

Hausfeld is the only claimants’ firm to be ranked by the Legal 500 and Chambers & Partners as a top tier firm in private enforcement of antitrust/competition law in both the United States and the United Kingdom. For more information about the firm, including recent trial victories and landmark settlements, please visit: www.hausfeld.com.

About Clean Air Council

Clean Air Council is a member-supported, non-profit environmental organization dedicated to protecting everyone’s right to breathe clean air. The Council is headquartered in Philadelphia and works through public education, community organizing, advocacy, and government oversight to ensure enforcement of environmental laws. For more information, please visit www.cleanair.org.

For Immediate Release

[September 12, 2017 – Harrisburg, PA] – As the Pennsylvania State House of Representatives returns to session to consider revenue packages for the state budget, environmental leaders gathered with local citizens in the Capitol on Tuesday to deliver a message: the proposed budget is a raw deal for all Pennsylvanians. The current plan presents unprecedented changes to environmental protections amid riders that would compromise air quality, water quality and public health.

The groups slammed the use of revenue-related budget bills to pass industry-friendly policies that could never stand on their own merit, a form of legislative overreach that is becoming an annual tradition in Harrisburg. Further, the groups highlighted the 1700 comments generated from Pennsylvania residents, directed to the legislature and Governor Wolf, opposing passage of a budget that continues to include ill-advised riders.

The Tax Code Bill (HB 542), passed by the Pennsylvania Senate and supported by Governor Tom Wolf, includes provisions that would create a new Air Quality Permit Advisory Committee to approve any air quality permits meant to regulate emissions from oil and gas operations, marking the first time in history a legislatively-dominated body would have veto authority over any environmental regulation or permit.

The bill also includes a rider that would allow the oil and gas industry to hand pick their own third-party, fee-for-hire agents to review and approve their permit applications if the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) doesn’t do so within a set time frame.

“The Pennsylvania Senate’s ill-advised provisions in the budget bills would be devastating to our air and water across the state,” said Matt Walker, Community Outreach Director with Clean Air Council. “Pennsylvania families who live near shale gas facilities are already forced to breathe harmful methane pollution and deal with other negative impacts of the industry – these provisions would only add insult to injury. Our group of environmental organizations, collectively representing nearly a million Pennsylvanians, are calling on the Pennsylvania legislature and Governor Wolf to protect Pennsylvania families by passing a clean budget and rejecting any budget deal that contains environmental riders that put our air and water at risk.”

“As a mother of two young boys living in heavily fracked Butler County, I know there is no justification to trade away the only public health protections Pennsylvania’s children have from natural gas pollution in a bad budget deal,” said Patrice Tomcik, Organizer for Moms Clean Air Force. “This bad budget deal has a plan to replace air experts at the Department of Environmental Protection with a committee of political appointees, stacked in favor of the oil and gas industry that would reduce the Department’s ability to oversee the natural gas industry. In other words, this plan would give industry a free pass to pollute and sicken our children.”

“The Pennsylvania Senate’s willingness to put the future of our air and water in the oil and gas industry’s hands, with the support of Gov. Wolf, is unnecessary and unacceptable,” said Sarah Martik of the Center for Coalfield Justice.  “We absolutely cannot afford to give oil and gas companies the ability to hire their own third parties to issue permits. The permitting process is one of the few ways a community has a voice to speak out and be heard on projects that threaten their health and homes.  If the industry wants permits to be issued more quickly, they should support a budget that fully funds the Department of Environmental Protection.”

Riders jammed into in the Administrative Code Bill (HB 118) also drew the ire of the environmental groups. These riders included allowing wastewater treatment facilities to continue accepting and discharging conventional oil and gas drilling wastewater under long-expired permits, and restricting DEP’s ability to implement a water quality standard for manganese, a toxic metal.

“Every year over 100 million gallons of conventional gas wastewater, which contains heavy metals such as arsenic, a variety of hazardous chemicals, radionuclides, and high levels of salts, is still discharged to rivers and streams, particularly impacting the Allegheny River,” said Myron Arnowitt of Clean Water Action. “It’s disgraceful to allow these facilities to continue to pollute our waterways by letting them operate under weaker standards in violation of an EPA order and the Clean Water Act.”

“Pennsylvania legislators are once again attempting to brazenly throw our families, farms,  health and environment under the bus, this time by using the budget process to limit water quality protections for our streams and rivers from manganese, a toxic metal,” said Faith Zerbe, Delaware Riverkeeper Network. “It is time our elected officials get the message that it’s not okay to infringe on our Constitutional Rights under Article 1, Section 27 of the Pennsylvania Constitution just to give more gifts to the drillers and coal industry that repeatedly wound our community, forests, streams and drinking water.”

The event was sponsored by Clean Air Council, Clean Water Action, Center for Coalfield Justice, Delaware Riverkeeper Network, Environmental Defense Fund, Moms Clean Air Force, Mountain Watershed Association, National Resources Defense Council, PennFuture, Physicians for Social Responsibility, and Sierra Club.  

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Contacts:

Katie Edwards, Clean Air Council, 609-432-0129;  kedwards@cleanair.org

Myron Arnowitt, Clean Water Action; 412-592-1283; marnowitt@cleanwater.org

You may have heard that for the month of October, we, along with GoPhillyGo, Indego, and the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia, will be celebrating bicycling across Philadelphia with the Love to Ride (LTR) Challenge, a fun, friendly, and free competition to get more people cycling. Increasing bicycling for daily travel is one of the primary goals of our work towards improving air quality in the region. Two of the common cited barriers to cycling include safety and riding, as in knowing where to ride or having other people to ride with. We seek to address these issues by increasing cycling infrastructure, making bicycle trip-planning easy, and advocating for safe streets for all. Read on to learn about our expansive work on bicycle infrastructure, education and advocacy.

Multi-use Trails

We are a proud member of the Circuit Coalition – a group of non-profit organizations, municipalities, and government agencies that are working together to complete the region’s goal of 750 miles of connected multi-use trails. Currently, the Circuit Trails has over 300 miles complete, with about 100 more miles in progress. We are the lead on some of those in progress miles, including the Cobbs Creek Connector Trail and the Heinz Refuge bike/pedestrian connections.

Cobbs Creek Connector Trail

The Cobbs Creek Connector Trail will help complete the Cobbs Creek Trail, a key segment of the East Coast Greenway, and will be an important link between communities to recreational areas and historic sites, like John Heinz Wildlife Refuge at Tinicum (JHNWR), commercial hubs and employment centers. The Connector Trail will run approximately 3 miles from Cobbs Creek Trail’s current southern terminus to the JHNWR, spanning 4 main sections. Click here to learn more about the 4 sections of the Cobbs Creek Connector Trail.

Heinz Refuge Bike/Pedestrian Connections

We are partnering with JHNWR to build 3 additional pedestrian and bicycle friendly links in Philadelphia and Delaware Counties to JHNWR and businesses in the vicinity, including Philadelphia International Airport. Click here to learn more about these 3 connections.

Bike Racks

Secure bike parking is one of the deciding factors on whether a person bikes to work or not. We recognized this several years ago, and since then have been helping businesses with the on-street bike rack  permitting and installation process.

In 2016,  we took on a new (to us) bike rack endeavor – the art rack. We were funded by the Penn Treaty Special Services District and the American Street Empowerment Zone to create and install 15 art racks as well as 10 standard inverted-U bike rack and a bike corral in the Fishtown, Kensington, and Northern Liberties neighborhoods. Art racks not only provide secure bike parking to employees and customers of businesses in these neighborhoods, but they also provide an appealing aesthetic that is as much place making as it is bike parking. These have been created by a local metal worker and have been an exciting asset to add to these neighborhoods.

As an extension of our work with bike racks, the Council was awarded an Azavea Summer of Maps fellow, who helped us analyze where bike racks already exist, how much they are being used, where illegal bike parking is happening, and ultimately design a way to predict how many bike parking spaces per employee or customer are needed in different situations.

Do you know a business that is interested in implementing secure bike parking? Have them contact Will Fraser, Sustainable Transportation Outreach Coordinator, by calling 215-567-4004 ext. 123 or emailing wfraser@cleanair.org.

GoPhillyGo

GoPhillyGo.org is the region’s multimodal trip planner that we created to help make it easier to get around the Greater Philadelphia Area without a car. The website lets users plan biking, walking, public transit directions, or any combination of those modes of travel. GoPhillyGo also gives users the option to make their bike trip flatter, faster, or safer by using the customizable options. A very exciting new addition to the website is the Indego bike share functionality. Not only can you check individual station’s dock availability, but now you can plan a trip from start to end with seamless directions of which station to walk to, how to bike to the end station,you’re your final walking leg, just like taking transit!

As part of GoPhillyGo, we organize bike rides for cyclists of all abilities to environmental centers and nature destinations. Just recently we explored the new Bartram’s Mile, a multi-use trail that goes through Bartram’s Garden, by bike. Subscribe GoPhillyGo’s eNewsletter to stay-up-to-date on our bike rides.

Vision Zero

Finally, one of the most important ways we are working in Philadelphia as an advocate for bicycling is through the Vision Zero Alliance and the city’s subcommittees for Vision Zero. Vision Zero is the approach to traffic safety, first implemented in Sweden, based on the notion that no traffic death is acceptable. Cities that adopt Vision Zero policies have the goal of reducing traffic deaths to zero, and Philadelphia recently established their policy, with a goal of eliminating traffic deaths by 2030. The Council works with the City and other advocates to help this goal be met. In addition to Vision Zero’s importance for the dignity of all road users, there is a clear environmental relationship: as the most vulnerable of roadways users, people will not walk or bike for transportation if it isn’t safe.

What’s Next

Until we reach our Vision Zero goal of zero traffic fatalities and serious injuries, there will be crashes. While many major crashes are reported to police, there are many that are not. Soon we will be debuting a a web tool for reporting minor crashes and close calls. This data can help the City identify areas where improvements for road safety are needed. Remember to always report a crash that results in an injury serious enough to involve medical attention. But, for something minor, help us keep track of when and where those events are happening – stay tuned for Close Calls Philly.

 Tell the Pennsylvania General Assembly that clean air and clean water are not for sale. 

On July 27, 2017, the Pennsylvania Senate approved a revenue package that will further decimate the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), threatening public health and damaging our environment in the process. By the slimmest of margins, the Senate voted 26-24 to adopt amendments to the Tax Code bill – House Bill 542 – which does achieve one of Governor Wolf’s long-sought goals, a severance tax on the extraction of natural gas from unconventional wells. On its own, this is a worthy policy goal. However, in exchange for what amounts to a paltry revenue increase, the Senate approved a series of environmental riders wanted by industry groups that gut DEP’s ability to act in the public interest. This is unacceptable; the state budget is not the place to debate critical protections for our air, water, and public health. DEP’s budget has already been slashed by 40 percent over the last 13 years – resulting in the loss of over 22 percent of its staff – and HB 542 would undermine DEP’s authority going forward and pose an immediate threat to Governor Wolf’s proposed commonsense controls on methane pollution.

In February, DEP published proposed general permits (GP-5 and GP-5A) that would establish cost-effective controls on methane pollution from new sources in the unconventional natural gas industry. These permits will protect public health, the environment, and Pennsylvania’s economy. Following extensive input from stakeholders and members of the public, the 120-day public comment period on the permits closed on June 5. While DEP is currently working to finalize the permits, HB 542 would allow the General Assembly to unilaterally weaken or eliminate them. Instead of working with the agency or going through the standard legislative process, this bill would create a new “Air Quality Permit Advisory Committee” – dominated by members handpicked by the legislature – that would have ultimate authority to approve (or disapprove) the permits once finalized. The bill prohibits DEP from submitting the permits to this “Committee” before 2018 and would allow industry-backed lawmakers to effectively veto these much-needed commonsense protections. This unprecedented hurdle to environmental protection is not grounded in science or designed to protect public health, it’s a transparent political game to benefit the gas industry.

Another amendment to the bill directs DEP to establish a program for third-party review of any permits issued by the agency, effectively privatizing the oil and gas permitting process in the Commonwealth. DEP would be required to contract with third-party permit reviewers, and the bill’s language includes no provisions for any supervision of these individuals or for accountability. Disturbingly, there are no conflict-of-interest provisions in the bill and permit applicants are allowed to handpick their own reviewer among those contracted with DEP. That means there is nothing to prevent a consultant from reviewing his own application. Furthermore, there are no provisions dealing with public participation, meaning there is no guarantee that third-parties handling permit applications will hold a public hearing or allow for public comment. This ill-advised approach will cede our public servants’ responsibility to protect public health and the environment to unaccountable private interests. It will undermine the integrity of the permit review process while limiting public participation and allowing for rampant self-dealing.

Finally, there is a provision stating that any permit for unconventional oil and gas development is simply “deemed approved” unless DEP denies it within the relevant timeframe (which varies from 30 to 45 to 60 days depending on the situation). Even if the relevant review period is extended for cause, this provision would require that DEP refund the permit review fee to the applicant. This radical approach puts the burden on DEP – intentionally underfunded and understaffed – to rush its permit review process and allows for the automatic approval of permits that have not been subject to appropriate agency review or public scrutiny.

Put it all together, and it is clear that HB 542 is a direct assault on Pennsylvania citizens’ fundamental, constitutionally-protected rights to clean air and pure water. Rolling back environmental and public health protections won’t balance the budget – all it does is give drillers a license to pollute. Governor Wolf has political concerns over his reelection and, in his single-minded pursuit of a severance tax, he has cut a bad deal for the people of the Commonwealth that needlessly trades away clean air and water protections. This deal should be rejected as an affront to our fundamental rights and to responsible stewardship of our public natural resources.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

(WASHINGTON, D.C. – July 10, 2017) – Clean Air Council was in Washington D.C. today to continue arguing against Trump Administration efforts to roll back public health and climate protections just one week after winning a major legal victory with other environmental organizations against Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt.  

Administrator Pruitt is insistent on suspending these protections despite admitting that a two-year delay would have a disproportionate impact on children’s health,” said Joseph Otis Minott, Executive Director and Chief Counsel of Clean Air Council.  “Delaying these important rules would jeopardize the health of Pennsylvanians living near 836 wells now covered by the rules as a result of the court’s decision last week allowing the rule to be implemented.  Oil and gas pollution contributes to over 30,000 asthma attacks each year in Pennsylvania and some of the chemicals released with methane (benzene, for example), are known human carcinogens.”

On Monday, July 3rd, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C Circuit reinstated oil and gas methane pollution standards that had been suspended before implementation at the beginning of June.  In a 2-1 decision in Clean Air Council, et al. v. Scott Pruitt, the Court found that Pruitt had no authority to stay the rules.  Oil and gas operators must now comply with the standard, including the essential methane leak detection and repair (LDAR) requirements.

“We won in the courts on the 90-day delay of the rules, but we now need to continue to defend public health and air quality as EPA recklessly attempts to institute a longer and more harmful two-year suspension of these same protections,” said Minott.

However, today, the EPA held a public hearing on Pruitt’s second attempt to stop these protections- a proposed two-year stay of these very same rules.  Nearly 20 impacted community members and faith leaders from Pennsylvania testified during the hearing.  They were joined by impacted people from around the country who traveled to Washington with the same message: public health for all must be prioritized over profit for a few.

“We are a family living in the epicenter of Marcellus Shale drilling,” said Jane Worthington, a mother of two from Mount Pleasant, PA that testified at Monday’s hearing. “We are not living the ‘dream,’ but are living in fear as we watch our friends and neighbors develop cancer.  Our benzene-exposed daughter has to carry a personal air monitor that goes off while she is at school because it is surrounded by gas sites.  There are 22 wells within 1/2 mile of our school. Six of these wells are being fracked as we speak and only 0.7 miles away from the school. We are extremely worried about being exposed to harmful pollution from the gas industry. “

The oil and gas industry is the leading industrial source of methane pollution, a greenhouse gas that is over 80 times more potent than carbon dioxide on a 20-year timescale. Recently released data that was self-reported by the natural gas industry in Pennsylvania showed methane emissions were up 28% between 2014 and 2015 while production only rose 12%.

 

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Clean Air Council is a member- supported, non-profit environmental organization dedicated to protecting everyone’s right to breathe clean air. The Council is headquartered in Philadelphia and works through public education, community advocacy, and government oversight to ensure enforcement of environmental laws. For more information, please visit www.cleanair.org.

 

Contact: Katie Edwards, Clean Air Council

kedwards@cleanair.org, 215-567-4004 x102

On June, 1st 2017, President Donald Trump announced that he was pulling the United States, the second largest greenhouse gas polluter on earth after China, out of the Paris Climate Agreement.

This move came only a year and a half after, for the first time, nearly every nation on earth came to a unanimous agreement on the reality of a changing climate. In December 2015, after weeks of intense negotiation, countries committed to help solve the problem by signing the Paris accord. All nations on this planet (except Syria because it is currently in a civil war and Nicaragua because the deal didn’t go far enough) agreed to a clear target: keep the global average temperature from rising 2 degrees Celsius by the end of the century, as compared to rising temperatures during the 19th century before the industrial revolution.

The agreement recognized the prevailing climate scientific consensus: that after a 2 degree Celsius rise in temperature, we risk dramatic changes in weather patterns, food and water crises and an overall more hostile worldCurrently, if fossil fuel use stays the same and we do nothing to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions, we could warm the planet up to 6 degrees Celsius by the end of the 21st century.

Trump’s main reason for leaving the accord was because he said it was “a bad deal,” for the US. The Paris accord, however, was not “a deal” in the way Trump uses the phrase. The agreement did not mandate any nation to abide by a specific negotiated obligation. The agreement states that the 2-degree goal would be achieved by cutting emissions “as soon as possible” based on a country’s specific reduction targets. The agreement doesn’t detail exactly how countries should reach its national targets. Rather, it provides a framework for gaining momentum on greenhouse gas reduction. This means that every government involved in the Paris talks had the option of deciding how much it would reduce its own emissions, based on what it thought it could deliver. So no one actually got a bad deal, because everyone defined their own terms.

At this point, 197 countries (which equal 98.9% of global emissions) already have submitted their national climate targets, which they want to pursue to bring down their emissions. The US—a country with just over 4 percent of the world’s population, but responsible for almost a third of the excess carbon dioxide that is heating the planet—agreed to lower emissions by 26 to 28 percent below 2005 levels by 2025. In context, this is a fairly moderate reduction as compared to other Global North nations. The European Union pledged, as a group of 28 countries, to cut emissions by 40%. The United State’s main tools to achieve its promised reduction were Obama era climate policies such as the Clean Power Plan and stricter fuel emissions standards. These policies are not only aimed at accelerating the current pace of electricity de-carbonization (reducing the emissions of electricity generated) and implementing green energy, but also reducing health-damaging ambient particle pollution (mainly due to fuel combustion from cars and power plants) and ozone.

First of all, let’s be clear on what a withdrawal means: President Trump announced his intention to withdraw via the accord’s formal process—which cannot begin until 3 years after the Agreement entered into force: meaning November 2019. Also, the Trump administration plans to follow the accord’s formal withdrawal mechanism, a long legal process that will take at least a year to carry out. The official exit of the US from the agreement will not come until around November 2020—coincidentally coinciding with the next presidential election. It should also be noted that a future administration could always rejoin.

This doesn’t mean that the Trump administration can’t do damage in the interim. President Trump’s decision to leave the agreement is the most significant in that it’s a clear signal of the direction in which he plans to take federal environmental and energy policy. He will keep trying to dismantle climate-friendly policies, including the Clean Power Plan, which sought to curtail emissions from power plants, and various regulations on methane leaks from oil and gas operations. Whether or not he’ll be successful is still far from assured, since it will take years to carry out a process of withdrawing and revising science-based regulations. This process will also possibly be affected by a slew of legal challenges by cities, states, and environmental groups.  Nevertheless, it is likely that coal, oil, and gas will have less regulatory oversight than current levels. A recent analysis suggests that if Trump’s plans go forward, emissions will still fall between 15 to 19 percent below 2005 levels by 2025 as opposed to the 26-28 percent the U.S. aspired to in the Paris talks due to market forces.

Additionally, experts see another impact of the Trump presidency and withdrawal from the accord: his favoring of fossil fuels over green energy will likely have repercussions on US businesses. U.S. businesses may miss out on the booming clean energy marketplace worldwide that the Paris Agreement is accelerating. For example, China is already investing more than double than the US in clean energy and its carbon emissions have stayed flat or declined for the past 3 years. India and Europe, which, have a booming solar and wind industry and are on an irreversible path toward green development. These are the future world leaders in green energy, not the United States. 

For many of us, this is all understandably very distressing. But there is a reason for optimism.

As President Trump and EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt bury their heads deeper and deeper into the sand, local efforts to stop climate change are intensifying. States like California and New York—whose combined economies comprise the fourth largest economy on earth—have vowed to pursue their own power plant and vehicle emission reduction programs. Even red states like Iowa, Kansas, North Dakota or Texas get it: the largest percentage of these state’s power is from wind energy. And the private sector is already shifting toward cleaner and more cost-efficient energies regardless of the federal government’s political stances. And just last month, Philadelphia among more than 250 US cities pledged to run entirely on renewable sources such as wind and solar energy by 2035.

As such, green energy employment opportunities are growing rapidly. Jobs in the green energy sector are already growing 12 times faster than the overall US economy. Here in Pennsylvania, the number of clean-energy jobs is up 15% in just two years. Now more than 66,000 workers are employed in the renewable energy sector—about twice as many PA workers in mining, oil and gas combined. Nationally, there are 1.2 million green energy jobs in states that voted for Trump already (out of 2.6 million across the US). 

However, to keep this trend up, it is important that local lawmakers keep expanding and renewing green policies. Elected officials need to hear from their constituents. Just recently, over 11,000 comments were submitted to the PA Department of Environmental Protection in support of natural gas pollution standards. Join the chorus of voices who support green energy, cleaner air, and healthier communities. Call, send a letter, or send an email to your elected official and demand action on climate change.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

(PITTSBURGH, PA – Wednesday, June 27, 2017) Monday, Clean Air Council filed an action in the Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas in order to ensure a fair public participation process for individuals wanting to submit comments on proposed air permits by the Allegheny County Health Department.

The Title V program of the Clean Air Act requires that major sources of air pollution obtain Title V permits, which are renewable on a five-year basis.  This provides the public with a means to review the requirements that apply or do not apply to a facility, and comment on proposed permits.  It also affords groups like Clean Air Council to evaluate whether the proposed permit meets all legal and technology requirements.

Clean Air Council alleges the Hearing Officer unlawfully upheld the Department’s denial of a request for an extension of time for public comment on a proposed Title V permit for the Allegheny Ludlum facility in Brackenridge, Pennsylvania.  The Title V permit application had been pending for over twenty years, and the relevant records were voluminous.  The Council alleges the Department violated federal regulations requiring “adequate procedures” for notice and comment on Title V permits.  In addition, the Council alleges the Department violated state law by having a blanket policy against extensions of public comment on Title V permits.

“It is unconscionable that  the Department would not allow community members and environmental health advocates adequate time to review a complex proposed Title V permit. One of the main purposes of the Title V comment process is to encourage impacted community members to offer their insights into how the Department might improve the permit. This is a Department that has shown time after time that it does not want serious public input.  This is not good government and this is not the law,” said Joseph Otis Minott, Executive Director and Chief Counsel, Clean Air Council. 

The Council also alleges the Hearing Officer unlawfully required the Council to prove by a preponderance of the evidence that the Department had committed an abuse of discretion.  Previous decisions make it clear that the Council need only prove by a preponderance of evidence that the Department violated federal or state law.

“The effect of the Administrative Order is to strip the public participation provisions of the Title V program of nearly all meaning, at least in Allegheny County,” said Christopher D. Ahlers, Staff Attorney, Clean Air Council.

The Case is Clean Air Council v. Allegheny County, Case No. GD-17-009155.

About Clean Air Council
Clean Air Council is Pennsylvania’s oldest member-supported environmental nonprofit, fighting for everyone’s right to breathe clean air since 1967. Through research, public education and advocacy, the Council empowers citizens to fight for policies and practices that create healthier communities and a healthier environment. For more information about Clean Air Council, visit www.cleanair.org.

 

Contact: Christopher Ahlers, Clean Air Council – cahlers@cleanair.org, 215-567-4004, x 125

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

PHILADELPHIA, PA (June 16, 2017) –  On Tuesday, the Environmental Protection Agency announced that it would seek a two-year suspension of leak detection and repair standards on the oil and gas industry.  In a Federal Register notice Wednesday, the Bureau of Land Management announced a suspension of the implementation of key protections that reduce harmful methane pollution emissions from oil and gas facilities on public lands.  These delays on the EPA’s standards, and their possible subsequent rollback, would affect 800 wells across Pennsylvania–creating more than 500 tons of methane pollution and 140 more tons of smog-forming and health-threatening toxic chemicals in our air.   In response, Joseph Otis Minott, Esq., Executive Director and Chief Counsel of the Clean Air Council, released the following statement:

“President Trump and his EPA are sending a very clear message that they care more about protecting polluters than people.  As the second largest producer of natural gas, Pennsylvania has new wells drilled each and every day that will no longer need to comply with basic, common sense clean air protections.  This unreasonable delay is happening at a time when self-reported industry data show emissions have increased in the Commonwealth nearly 30% in recent years.  Today more than ever before, with a constant bombardment against national protections, Governor Wolf needs to honor his commitment to address methane pollution from natural gas facilities now”

About Clean Air Council

Clean Air Council is Pennsylvania’s oldest member-supported environmental nonprofit, fighting for everyone’s right to breathe clean air since 1967. Through research, public education and advocacy, the Council empowers citizens to fight for policies and practices that create healthier communities and a healthier environment. Clean Air Council believes everyone has a right to breathe clean air. For more information about Clean Air Council, visit www.cleanair.org.

PENNSYLVANIA, April 26, 2017 – From Scranton to Pittsburgh, impacted Pennsylvania residents held a number of coordinated press conferences and actions across the state to hold Governor Wolf accountable to his promise of regulating methane and harmful air pollution from existing oil and gas industry operations. Demonstrations and meetings occurred in Harrisburg and all of Wolf’s four regional offices. Everywhere methane leaks, it is accompanied by other harmful air pollutants. Pennsylvania is the second largest producer of natural gas and is responsible for emitting over 100,000 tons of hazardous toxic air pollution per year from the oil and gas industry.  

“It’s been a year and a half since the Governor announced his plan to address methane pollution, said Joseph Otis Minott, Esq., Clean Air Council’s Executive Director and Chief Counsel. “While Pennsylvanians continue to breathe unhealthy air, the Governor is already taking credit for implementing methane standards that have yet to be finalized. DEP released draft standards for addressing methane pollution from new oil and gas operations earlier this year, but Governor Wolf has still not made good on his promise to regulate the operations that currently pollute the air – and has yet to even propose them. The public needs and deserves these protections and we will hold the Governor accountable until he implements them.”

“People like myself and my family, living in the shalefields, would like to thank Governor Wolf for proposing his plan to cut methane,” said Lois Bower-Bjornson of Scenery Hill, PA. “However, we still must forge ahead on much-needed protections for existing operations. Each day that goes by without these protections is another day that I worry about my family’s health and exposure to harmful pollution.”

Residents affected by natural gas operations were outraged by a recent Wolf Facebook Live Town Hall where the Governor claimed to have instituted methane emissions standards, when residents say there has been no action to date on proposing and finalizing a regulation on existing sources, the most critical part of Wolf’s methane reduction plan. In Pittsburgh, residents participating in the action collected air pollution samples from near their homes and released it outside of the Governor’s office, bringing the pollution directly to him until he regulates it.  Residents in Scranton met with Wolf Administration staff from the regional office, held an educational event, staged a demonstration with signs, and wrote letters to local papers and comments to the Department of Environment Protection calling for more action to cut methane. Advocates also came to Wolf’s offices in Harrisburg, Erie and Philadelphia to share materials demonstrating strong support from across the state for strong air pollution standards.

About Clean Air Council:

Clean Air Council is Pennsylvania’s oldest member-supported environmental nonprofit, fighting for everyone’s right to breath clean air since 1967. Through research, public education and advocacy, the Council empowers citizens to fight for policies and practices that create healthier communities and a healthier planet. Clean Air Council believes everyone has a right to breathe clean air, and we all have a role to play. For more information about Clean Air Council, visit www.cleanair.org.

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