Monday, January 27, 2014

Pennsylvanians Are Smarter Than Their Leaders

By Wendi Taylor
PA Chapter Chair

Pennsylvanians appear to be much smarter than the average state lawmaker, when it comes to climate change. Three quarters of us know the planet is warming and that human activity is causing it. 

Based on answers to questions asked in a recent Stanford University poll, citizens are more interested, more informed and more concerned about global warming than the General Assembly or Governor Tom Corbett. The poll shows wide support among Pennsylvania residents for actions to address global warming and the resulting climate change.

Percentage of Pennsylvanians in favor of the following policies:

And yet, the majority of the General Assembly and the Corbett administration are poised to do nothing new to encourage the development of clean, renewable energy or propose new initiatives to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. According to the Climate Action Plan, Pennsylvania has done enough to reduce its emissions. 

And the Governor’s Energy Plan calls for more development and conversion to natural gas, which is just another fossil fuel that will eventually run out, leaving that generation to deal with how to produce energy.

Bills introduced in the House and the Senate, which would almost double the set asides for clean, renewable electricity, are expected to languish in committee and die at the end of the year.

The current leadership has chosen this path because they say the gas drilling industry is creating jobs. They seem unconcerned about the environmental consequences as long as the industry creates jobs and contributes to our energy independence. At the same time, the industry is making plans to liquefy the natural gas and ship it overseas to the highest bidder.

A better way to reach these goals – jobs and independence -- is to develop our capacity for wind and solar. Not only has it been shown that more jobs are created per dollars invested and energy generated, but this energy cannot be exported.

Leaders are supposed to anticipate the future and lead the way. They are supposed to solve problems, rather than forestall them until they are out of office.

We can argue about how long our fossil fuels will last but we cannot debate that those resources are finite. Wind and sun are infinite so if we can generate power from them, isn't that a safer long-term investment? Rather than build a whole pipeline system to carry natural gas and build a whole infrastructure to convert to natural gas, wouldn't we be more prudent to develop our infrastructure around wind and solar?

Pennsylvanians know that we need to address global warming and that we must move toward renewable energy. So why don’t our leaders know?

1 comment:

  1. The only thing I would disagree with is that "conversion to natural gas, which is just another fossil fuel that will eventually run out, leaving that generation to deal with how to produce energy." Natural gas - and the future of natural gas would seem to be shale gas, an extreme energy source - for decades to come will almost certainly push us past the tipping point for climate change. So future generations will have the bigger problem of how to deal with a wrecked climate.