by George Tahopoulos
On Thursday of this week New Jersey drastically changed its energy sector. They passed two bills that set new goals for increasing the amount of renewable energy that goes into the state. The deal consists of New Jersey saying that by 2030 they will generate 50% of their electricity from renewable energy. The bill was also passed with a 300 million dollar subsidy to the states remaining nuclear power plants which, some environmental groups are not exactly enthused by this because it starts another argument to whether we should move over to nuclear energy even though the danger is high and it is practically impossible to dispose of the waste.
People like Jeff Tittel the director of the New Jersey Sierra Club think that the bill is purely about the subsidy and that the quota set on renewable energy is a diversion to make you not see what is actually going on. In my opinion I believe that by 2030 most of the country will already be on renewable energy so I feel as if the nuclear industry is not mad about the bill being passed.
All of this is of course in response to President Trump taking us out of the Paris agreement. Since then there has been much outrage in the environmental community and senators have started to take matters in their own hands. This is just one of the 14 states whose senators announced that they would uphold the agreement and push forward on their own.
by Michael Patterson
Government officials in La Plata Country, Colorado are working to address an issue that has residents concerned. Natural gas wells in the region are found to be emitting high amounts of methane and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. This discovery came after a 2014 NASA study found that La Plata County had the highest level of methane in the country (Plautz para. 2).
La Plata County Commissioner Gwen Lachelt has been actively involved with protecting communities from environmental harm caused by these natural gas wells. She approached Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.) to get his vote for limiting the use of gas wells in Colorado communities. Senator McCain voted against the removal of the Obama-era rule, which limits the amount of methane being emitted on public land. However, some people have criticized Lachelt for her role in the environmental movement. Some say that her trip to Washington is evidence that she is using her role in public office for personal gain because her trip was funded by an environmental group that she also leads. The issue of oil and politics will be a debate for several years to come.
by Travis Turner
A recent test done by the American Lung Association discovered that air quality has been decreasing in several parts of Delaware. The three counties all scored poorly on the high ozone days category. Kent county received a C, Sussex received a D, and New Castle received a F. However, both Kent and Sussex received an A for their particle pollution, while New Castle received a D. Kevin Stewart who is the Environmental Health Director believes these low ratings are due to several main factors. The biggest cause of this is that I – 95 runs right through most of New Castle. Cars, trucks and buses are big contributors to ozone pollution. New Castle is also home to a fairly large commuter work force. Another interesting cause of the pollution can be considered a negative externality. Delaware is located downwind to several high polluting businesses. Since they are not in the state borders, unfortunately there is not much Delaware can do about it.
I believe this air quality issue needs to be addressed on a national level for any significant change to occur. We currently take clean air for granted and we really shouldn’t. There are countries out there who do not have the luxury of clean air. Countries like China deal with smog and acid rain due to their high levels of pollution. Realistically I don’t think we will ever end up in their position, but that doesn’t mean we should not put some effort into improving our current air quality.
According to Lancaster Online‘s Ad Crable there is a policy shift going on in Pennsylvania.
Lancaster County farmers and residents will have a new taskmaster as the state tries a significantly different approach to make up ground to remove nutrients and sediment polluting the Chesapeake Bay.
The state will now rely on private and public sector leaders in Lancaster County itself, hoping for a more cooperative approach to vastly step up removal of the pollutants.
Farm-related runoff of manure, fertilizer and soil, as well as trying to capture stormwater, will be the focal points for the new initiative.
Is this new “localism” a good idea?
In an op-ed for the New York Times, Gracy Olmstead argues that there may be a solution to our fractured partisan politics: localism. She states
at the local level, our interests intertwine: They are practical, achievable, even apolitical.This is localism, a bottom-up, practically oriented way of looking at today’s biggest policy dilemmas. Instead of always or only seeking to fix municipal issues through national policy, localism suggests that communities can and should find solutions to their own particular problems, within their own particular contexts. The best walkability solutions for Washington, D.C., may not work in my town.
Olmstead cites a sustainability case as an example:
Localism manifests itself in a variety of forms. The farmer and author Joel Salatin has seen localism thrive within the sustainable agriculture movement: States like Wyoming and Maine have campaigned for “local food freedom laws,” which enable farmers to sell certain goods to neighbors without as much federal oversight or bureaucratic red tape.
What are other examples related to environmental politics that might be resolved through “localism”?
by Nadirah Wilson
On March 12th, the PA Clean Transportation Infrastructure Bill was approved by the House Committee. Under this bill establishment; “House Bill 1446”, there will be more encouragement and support on infrastructure for electric and natural gas fueled vehicles. Pennsylvania will create a state goal of expanding our electric transportation usage by at least 50 percent over baseline forecasts by 2030. Also, the state will direct the development of regional transportation plans so Pennsylvanians will be able to continue to live, and work all the while transitioning to electric. The requirements includes utilities to submit infrastructure investment proposals based on the regional frameworks that help cost-effectively build out backbone charging infrastructure that meets their local needs. In the proposal they must complete a statewide interstate and turnpike fast electronic natural gas refueling networks, and create opportunities to increase the exportation of natural gas vehicles to support fleets and other high-value uses. The main sponsor of the bill, Representative Marguerite Quinn stated that electric powered cars are becoming more affordable for both business and personal use. Although electric powered cars are on the rise, people have been reluctant on consuming these products because of the lack of charging and refueling stations. Fortunately, with the new legislation and passing of the new bill there will be more stations available in the future. This new legislation is very beneficial to the economy and the environment, because alternative fuel vehicles provides a great opportunity to obtain a clean environment. Pennsylvania will be a leader in adopting these new technologies, succeeding in environmental friendliness.
This article by Donna Morelli outlines how two recent court cases in Pennsylvania have bolstered the strength of environmental rights in the Commonwealth.
She argues that
twice in the last four years, Pennsylvania’s Supreme Court has rendered decisions putting teeth in the environmental rights amendment — first, in a lawsuit over whether communities have the power to bar hydraulic fracturing and, later, over how the legislature is spending revenue derived from leasing state forestland for “fracking,” as the controversial natural gas extraction method is known.
Read more here: http://www.circleofblue.org/2018/world/pennsylvanias-environmental-rights-amendment-grows-teeth/