Casey says cli­mate change mit­i­ga­tion should be high pri­or­ity

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette - - Local News - By Don Hopey

Sen. Bob Casey, D- Pa., said Fri­day that mean­ing­ful fed­eral ac­tion to mit­i­gate the im­pact of man- made cli­mate change is needed but un­likely un­less the up­com­ing elec­tion puts Democrats in con­trol of the White House and Se­nate.

Preach­ing to a mostly deep­green choir of about 300 dur­ing an hour­long Zoom hookup spon­sored by Penn-En­vi­ron­ment, a statewide en­vi­ron­men­tal or­ga­ni­za­tion, Mr. Casey said cli­mate ac­tion is “im­por­tant, es­sen­tial and ur­gent.” He cou­pled that with a call for re­train­ing and skill de­vel­op­ment for work­ers dis­placed by a nec­es­sary shift to a more sus­tain­able econ­omy less re­liant on car­bon emis­sions.

“We need poli­cies that create and re­tain jobs but com­ple­ment cli­mate change pol­icy,” Mr. Casey said. “We need a New Deal-style jobs pro­gram that’s fed­er­ally sup­ported and that can re­build our eco­nomic in­fra­struc­ture.”

He said the na­tion and state al­ready are ex­pe­ri­enc­ing cli­mate change in the form of more ex­treme weather, flood­ing, droughts, big­ger hur­ri­canes, sea level rise, warm­ing oceans, agri­cul­tural changes, and mi­gra­tion of in­va­sive species such as the spot­ted lantern fly, the hem­lock woolly adel­gid and Lyme dis­ease­car­ry­ing ticks.

“We’re see­ing its im­pacts now. It isn’t some fu­ture threat,” Mr. Casey said. “But our fu­ture will be very dark if we don’t take ac­tion.”

He said that’s es­pe­cially true in poorer ar­eas and com­mu­ni­ties of color that can have dis­pro­por­tion­ate ex­po­sure to the im­pact of cli­mate change.

Penn­syl­va­nia al­ready is deal­ing with cli­mate change, in­clud­ing ris­ing tem­per­a­tures that im­pact both ru­ral and ur­ban ar­eas, and changes in farm crops, forest species and win­ter recre­ation and tourism. Ris­ing sea lev­els are caus­ing salt wa­ter to move up the Delaware River es­tu­ary, en­dan­ger­ing pub­lic drink­ing wa­ter sup­plies along the east­ern edge of the state, he said.

“Agri­cul­ture is the top Penn­syl­va­nia in­dus­try and our farm­ers are deal­ing with floods, drought and pests as the front­line man­agers of land in the state,” Mr. Casey said. “Fortyeight of the 67 coun­ties are con­sid­ered ru­ral, so it’s es­sen­tial to have our farm­ers at the ta­ble and have their sup­port for re­duc­ing green­house gas emis­sions.”

He said the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion is “mov­ing in the wrong di­rec­tion on cli­mate change,” cit­ing its pull­out from the Paris Cli­mate Ac­cords and roll­backs of the Clean Power plan, which would have re­duced emis­sions from fos­sil fuel burn­ing power plants, and the meth­ane rule, which sought to re­duce

emis­sions of the po­tent green­house gas.

A new Demo­cratic ad­min­is­tra­tion and a Se­nate ma­jor­ity would pro­vide “an op­por­tu­nity for bold ac­tion,” he said, “but we still have a long way to go and we need to win more elec­tions to make progress.”

Com­ments posted on the call by nu­mer­ous par­tic­i­pants op­posed hy­draulic frac­tur­ing or “frack­ing” in the state’s Mar­cel­lus and Utica shale gas re­gions, and Pen­nEn­vi­ron­ment wants it banned. But Mr. Casey said he fa­vors stronger fed­eral reg­u­la­tion, mon­i­tor­ing and en­force­ment of the process and full pub­lic dis­clo­sure of chem­i­cals used.

“I sup­port re­spon­si­ble gas ex­trac­tion, in­clud­ing tough reg­u­la­tion at the fed­eral and state lev­els and the re­sources that that level of reg­u­la­tion re­quires,” he said.

Mr. Casey in­tro­duced the Frac­tur­ing Re­spon­si­bil­ity and Aware­ness of Chem­i­cals ( FRAC) Act, which would re­quire oil and gas com­pa­nies to dis­close chem­i­cals used in the frack­ing process and al­low the U. S. En­vi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Agency to reg­u­late and mon­i­tor those oper­a­tions.

Mr. Casey’s par­tic­i­pa­tion on the Zoom call pre­ceded the release Wed­nes­day by the Wal­ton Fam­ily Foun­da­tion of a poll that shows a broad na­tional con­sen­sus in fa­vor of quick ac­tion to ad­dress cli­mate change.

“Ad­dress­ing the im­pacts of cli­mate change is a pri­or­ity for nearly all Amer­i­cans, re­gard­less of ge­og­ra­phy or po­lit­i­cal per­spec­tive,” said Moira Macdonald, the foun­da­tion’s en­vi­ron­ment pro­gram di­rec­tor. “The re­sults of the poll should give phi­lan­thropists, ad­vo­cates, en­vi­ron­men­tal­ists, and pol­i­cy­mak­ers the in­sight and in­spi­ra­tion to think and act boldly to pro­tect our re­sources and com­mu­ni­ties.”

Pen­nEn­vi­ron­ment Ex­ec­u­tive Di­rec­tor David Ma­sur said the ma­jor­ity of Penn­syl­va­ni­ans sup­port cli­mate ac­tion and ef­forts by Gov. Tom Wolf to join the Re­gional Green­house Gas Ini­tia­tive, a con­sor­tium of 10 Mid- At­lantic and New Eng­land states formed to re­duce emis­sions that con­trib­ute to cli­mate change.

“There’s bi­par­ti­san sup­port for bold leg­isla­tive ac­tion in Wash­ing­ton and Harrisburg to en­able a tran­si­tion to re­new­ables and a brighter fu­ture,” Mr. Ma­sur said.

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