Responsibility for Keeping the Chesapeake Bay Healthy in PA Shifts from State to County

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?

https://lancasteronline.com/news/local/lancaster-county-leaders-to-take-charge-of-chesapeake-bay-cleanup/article_66efca3c-3d9e-11e8-9731-877c05f4ccb0.html

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Scott Pruitt’s Meetings with Campaign Donors

by Shane Pollock

Since taking office in 2017, the head of the EPA, Scott Pruitt has been reported of meeting with at least 39 of his campaign donors, including major oil, gas, and coal companies, such as Murray Energy. This report comes at a time where Pruitt is facing a lot of criticism for his office’s spending habits. The meetings with past donors have greatly outnumbered meetings with environmental organizations. On top of this, Pruitt has already given speeches at 4 different events planned by the Federalist Society, another one of Pruitt’s donors during his campaign for Attorney General. Pruitt has also been seen touring a coal mine in Wyoming, Arch Coal, which ironically also donated to his campaign in 2014. All of these meetings and events are made public by the EPA, and can be seen here: https://www.epa.gov/senior-leaders-calendars/calendar-scott-pruitt-administrator .

What do you think about Pruitt focusing a lot of his time on past donors of his campaigns? Is it a normal part of politics, or is in inappropriate for a sitting administrator to do? Do you think Pruitt should be more concerned with our environment than maintaining past relationships? Personally, I believe Pruitt is focusing far too much of his time on the wrong industries. With so much attention on the oil & gas industry, how is he benefiting our environment?

https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/scott-pruitt-campaign-donors_us_5acc4525e4b0150d9bfe7820

Is “Localism” the Answer?

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”?

Pennsylvania Poll on Climate Change

According to a new poll from State Impact PA and Franklin & Marshall, 40% of Pennsylvania respondents stated that they have been personally affected by climate change. See why here.

Biggest Threat to Humanity? Climate Change

by Ryan Molloy

 

During a press conference in New York last Thursday, the president of the United Nations (Antonio Guterres) delivered strong words about what this nation’s biggest threat is. Many were expecting answers similar to nuclear attacks, civil war, etc. Although Guterres stated his belief that the biggest threat to humanity is climate change, Guterres then mentioned that the economic cost of climate related disaster has hit a staggering $320 billion. He expresses concern of how many more “alarm bells” need to go off before the issue is taken as seriously as it should be.

Focusing on emissions, Guterres is holding a United Nations Summit on Climate change next year, specifically targeting government leaders to strengthen their pledges that they have made to curb emissions under the Paris agreement before 2020. Although Trump has announced the United States’ departure from the Paris agreement, it does not end until 2020. With that being said, not only do government leaders need to do their part but business leaders and powerful investors also play crucial roles as well. Guterres believes that all around the world the role of government is becoming less and less relevant and the role of the economy and society is playing a larger role. American businesses and society has done a great job in enforcing the Paris Agreement. Unlike American businesses, the government is doing the exact opposite and completely withdrawing from the agreement. Guterres still holds out hope that he can get the Trump administration to stay with the Paris Agreement.

Link: https://www.businessgreen.com/bg/news/3029467/un-secretary-general-climate-change-the-most-systemic-threat-to-humankind

EPA, Subject to Change

by Isa Molewijk

There has been a lot of controversy around the appointment of Scott Pruitt as chief of the Environmental Protection Agency. The walking contradiction of an anti-environmentalist in charge of the EPA has been subject to both outrage and applause all over the world. Now Pruitt is under fire for several scandals about his spending habits, like the deal to rent a Capitol Hill condominium linked to a gas industry lobbyist. Headlines like ‘White house considered firing Scott Pruitt’ and ‘Scott Pruitt’s bizarre condo scandal and mounting ethics questions’ scatter the news. Even republicans openly question Pruitt’s legitimacy. Furthermore, it strikes a more fundamental question about the existence of the EPA and the overall United States political system. How could an anti-environmentalist become chief of the EPA in the first place? And who will stand for the environment in times of Global Warming?

In the Netherlands there was a similar case of a ‘walking contradiction’ when anti-immigration-politician Rita Verdonk was appointed minister of Integration and Immigration.[1] With an increasing amount of refugees in Europe from war-torn countries, Verdonk sought to sharpen immigration laws and regulations. During her term (2003-2007) her directness and dehumanizing policies earned her the nickname ‘Iron Rita’. Fortunately, she did not get all policies through. Mainly because of the existence of the Dutch Council for Refugees, a Non-Governmental Organization (although partially government funded) which is leading in expertise and lobbies immigration policies to the House of Representatives.[2] They work close together with the government and when the government does not take their advice they use the media to demand consideration. In every branch of government there is a non-governmental agency that needs to be reckoned with. Their non-governmental nature causes them to solely have their purpose at mind, not worrying about re-election or presidential appointments. In the case of environmental policy, the Dutch government sets the frameworks, but the law is mostly shaped by non-governmental agency Stichting Natuur & Milieu (Nature and Environment).[3]

 

The Trump Administration and appointment of Scott Pruitt seemed to perish all hope for environmental protection in the U.S. However, it was an executive order from president Nixon that created the EPA in the first place. Maybe Scott Pruitt should not be on fire for non-surprising unethical behavior, but the entire political system that got him to be chief in the first place. Maybe the EPA should have a less governmental nature and there should be more non-governmental third party organizations to be reckoned with. It is time to be creative and demand change in a fundamental anti-environmental system. After all, environmental protection should not be linked to being a republican or democrat: we all breath the same air and we will all suffer the consequences of human-fueled global warming.

https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/scott-pruitt-epa-condo-rental_us_5ac25b2ee4b04646b644ffb1

 

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rita_Verdonk

[2] https://www.vluchtelingenwerk.nl/english

[3] https://www.natuurenmilieu.nl/english/

PA Clean Transportation Infrastructure Bill Approved By House Committee

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.