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Pa. releases climate action plan

Joined by state senators and representatives, Gov. Tom Wolf on Monday unveiled a new climate action plan for Pennsylvania.

Also at the press conference, Wolf announced Pennsylvania is joining the U.S. Climate Alliance, a coalition of 24 states that are trying to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions along the lines of the 2016 Paris Agreement, a global climate accord that was rejected by the Trump administration.

“States like Pennsylvania must take action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and protect our communities, economies, infrastructures, and environments from the risks of a warming climate,” Wolf said.

The Pennsylvania Climate Action Plan includes more than 100 steps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through actions such as increasing reliance on renewable energy, incentivizing energy efficient buildings and increasing the use of electric vehicles.

Robert Freeman, Pennsylvania state representative, (D-Northampton County), said that while the Climate Action Plan is a proposal and not law, legislation is being introduced by Representatives Steven McCarter and Carolyn Comitta in the House and Senator Steve Santarsiero in the Senate that would require the Alternative Energy Portfolio law to increase renewable energy use to 30 percent by the year 2030, referred to as “30 by 30.”

Wolf explained that changes like these can help return the earth’s temperature to pre-industrial levels, prevent further global warming and potentially curtail severe weather.

“Last year was the wettest ever recorded in Pennsylvania,” Wolf said, describing the recent flooding experienced by Pennsylvania as “devastating.”

“We must take additional steps to do our part to reduce climate change.” he said. “We need to get this done.”

He said change will be difficult and pose significant challenges. However, he believes the changes to be made are “smart decisions that are good for our economy.”

Sen. Jay Costa, (D-Allegheny County) echoed Wolf’s statements that the changes will be good for Pennsylvania’s bottom line, by saving money and growing “good paying jobs in Pennsylvania.”

Leaders of Nuclear Powers Pennsylvania, on organization that advocates for nuclear energy in the state, see the governor’s plan as a win for nuclear power.

“We have 16,000 team members working right now to support Pennsylvania’s nuclear industry all doing their part to create always-on, 24/7 carbon-free electricity,” said Martin Williams, co-chair of Nuclear Powers Pennsylvania in a news release.

Williams also said that the Beaver Valley and Three Mile Island nuclear power plants face closure without reforms like those proposed in the Climate Action Plan.

The action plan is third in the 10 years since state law began requiring the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection to develop a climate plan and make periodic updates.

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