Thursday, November 15, 2012

Beyond Coal To Renewable Energy

A Free Lecture at the Free Library of Philadelphia

Monday, November 19, 2012 at 6:45 PM
Free Library of Philadelphia, 19th & Vine Streets, Philadelphia
4th Floor Skyline Room

Speaker: Jeff Schmidt, PA Chapter Director

Coal mining, especially mountaintop removal and longwall mining, is highly destructive. It is a major cause of air pollution, global warming and waste. The Sierra Club is working to shut down existing coal-fired power plants and keep any new plants from being built. Coal use is down nationally. In Pennsylvania, nine old coal-burning plants have been retired or announced for retirement. Sierra Club also works for stricter EPA standards and promotes pollution-free and inexhaustible energy sources such as solar, geothermal and wind.

For more information, contact Bill Brainerd at

Monday, November 12, 2012

Election 2012: Opportunities and Challenges for a Clean Air Future

Clean Air Council to Host a Lunch & Learn Series

Election 2012: Opportunities and Challenges for a Clean Air Future

Tuesday November 13, 2012
12:00 – 1:30 PM (doors open at 11:45
The College of Physicians of Philadelphia
19 S. 22nd St. Philadelphia, PA 19103
Lunch will be served (menu below)

Fed up with a “Storm of the Century” every year and record-breaking summer heat, the American public rejected the agenda of large corporate polluters who spent $270 million to try and buy the election for politicians who support their dirty agenda. With the cost of pollution-related health care on the rise and the fate of public health at risk, the American people spoke up on November 6, 2012 and demanded a future that is healthy and sustainable, a future that holds the promise of good, American jobs and economic growth while working to slow the rise of the oceans and keep the air clean. While the environmental community praises the election of legislators who pledge to “heal the planet,” we realize that a host of both opportunities and challenges lay before our federal, state, and local officials if we truly desire a cleaner and more sustainable future for America’s children.

Clean Air Council is joined by Moms Clean Air Force, Penn Environment, Citizens for Pennsylvania’s Future (Penn Future), Conservation PA, and Sierra Club and graciously hosted by co-sponsor, The College of Physicians of Philadelphia. Our panel of speakers includes local physician and former health commissioner of Philadelphia Dr. Walter Tsou, Jay Carlis of Community Energy, Philadelphia mom and environmental attorney Lisa Widawsky Hallowell, and Sr. Mary Elizabeth Clark who serves as an Ambassador for the U.S. Catholic Bishops Climate Change Coalition. The panel will discuss clean energy, air pollution’s impact on public health, and the moral obligation to protect the environment. In addition to addressing public concerns about a sustainable future, we will be setting an ambitious agenda for the remainder of 2012 that includes finalization of the Soot & Carbon Rules and an extension of the Wind Energy Tax Credits. Tuesday’s roundtable will provide an opportunity for southeastern Pennsylvania to address our current climate issues, extreme weather, a new congressional make-up, and the role of the executive branch in addressing a rapidly changing global climate.

Register at:

Contact Gretchen Alfonso for more information at 215.567.4004 x128 or

Lisa Widawsky Hallowell is an attorney for the Environmental Integrity Project, a non-profit, non-partisan organization based in Washington, DC that advocates for effective enforcement of environmental laws. Lisa joined EIP in 2009, and her primary focus area is coal litigation and policy, specifically coal combustion waste (or "coal ash"). Just before taking maternity leave this summer, she was the lead attorney in an action that lead to the closure of the nation's largest coal ash impoundment, FirstEnergy's Little Blue Run, in western PA. Lisa graduated cum laude with a Certificate in Environmental and Natural Resources Law from Lewis and Clark Law School, and she earned her B.A. magna cum laude from Colgate University.

Mary Elizabeth Clark, S.S.J., a Sister of Saint Joseph, Philadelphia, has been director for the past eight years of the Sisters of Saint Joseph Earth Center, Chestnut Hill, Philadelphia, PA and Special Assistant to the President of Chestnut Hill College for Sustainability. She also serves as an Ambassador for the U.S. Catholic Bishops Climate Change Coalition and served as Social Justice Coordinator for the Sisters of Saint Joseph, Philadelphia, for nine years. While in that position, she served on the national boards of NETWORK and of the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility. Mary Elizabeth earned her B.S. in Education from Chestnut Hill College, her M.A. in Religious Studies from St. Thomas Aquinas University, Rome and an Ed.S. (Educational Specialist) degree from Seton Hall University, NJ.

Jay Carlis is Vice President at Community Energy, Inc. and responsible for managing day-to-day operations for CEI’s Retail Division, this includes Green Power sales in 22 utility territories. In 2009, Jay led the successful development of CEI’s first solar projects at Eastern University and Smith College. Jay is former President of the Renewable Energy Markets Association. He has a MBA in Marketing and Sustainable Enterprise from the Kenan-Flagler Business School at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a BA in Sociology from Haverford College.

Walter Tsou, MD (to be submitted)

Luncheon Buffet

12:00 Noon

Roast breast of turkey and Danish Fontina with sun-dried tomato basil relish served on Rosemary baguette

Layered grilled and marinated vegetables topped with Grana Padano and lemon aioli on a spinach tortilla wrap

Served with homemade seasoned parmesan potato chips and CBD pickled vegetables

Chocolate chip and oatmeal raisin cookies
Pitchers of freshly brewed, unsweetened iced tea and iced water

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

8th Annual Post Folk Fest Festers Fest

Join hosts Chris DiGangi and John Francis along with more than 25 bands for the:


8th Annual Post Folk Fest Festers Fest
Saturday, October 13, 2012
12 noon - ??


For a full list of performers see As always there will be beer, wine & a basic bar + good eats! There will be room for tents this year – a couple of campers- please call Chris to save a spot. There is plenty of floor space for whoever wants or needs to stay over. You might want to bring a sleeping bag. Sunday stragglers get scrapple & eggs & Bloody Marys- and more music…

Half of the net proceeds for this PFFFF will go to assist the Sierra Club in their ongoing efforts to keep this amazing big blue marble we call home a planet worth living on! Every man, woman and child in this country breaths cleaner air, drinks cleaner water and can enjoy a less ravaged American wilderness due to the Sierra Club’s many hard fought victories over the polluters who really do threaten our planet. I do have to mention that with Sierra Club's 501(c) 4 status the donation fee ($25) for a ticket is not tax deductible.; they support our effective, citizen-based advocacy and lobbying efforts

The other half of the net proceeds will be donated to the Fox Children’s Fund- for the surviving family of local fallen hero, Plymouth Township Police Officer & decorated Iraq War Vet Brad Fox, who was tragically killed in the line of duty September 13, 2012, the eve of his 35th birthday.

Event Location is:
The Rebel Lounge
223 Rebel Hill Road
Gulph Mills, PA 19428

Please RSVP to Chris at his Facebook Invite page. If you aren’t on Facebook contact Chris at or 484-213-5875 for questions


Bill McKibben Is Coming to Philly to Present "Do the Math"

To My Environmental Friends:

If you haven't already heard there is a big global warming wake-up event coming to Philadelphia 11/17. I'll be attending, and hope you will be able to join me.

The event is called Do The Math, and it's being organized by the organization (as you know the Sierra Club and often are linked together in events), and features author and activist Bill McKibben. At this event, Bill will be laying out the terrifying math of global warming -- and the plan to try and stop it while we still have time.

Here's the story in short: we can burn 565 more gigatons of carbon and stay below 2°C of warming — anything more than that risks catastrophe for life on earth. The only problem is that fossil fuel corporations now have 2,795 gigatons in their reserves, five times the safe amount. And they’re planning to burn it all — unless we find a way to stop them.

Bill will be giving the full story on this math, and the plan to keep that carbon from being burned.

The Do the Math Tour is visiting 20 cities across America in November to kick off the campaigns to directly take on the fossil fuel industry. I'd like to invite you to join me in Philly on Nov. 17th. I already have my ticket, but you can get yours here:

I hope you'll join me! Please let me know if you have any questions.

Here are the details:

Event: Do the Math - Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Date: Saturday, November 17, 2012 at 6:00 PM (EST)


First Unitarian Church of Philadelphia
2125 Chestnut St
Philadelphia, PA 19103

For more information click here:
Do the Math - Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Tom Bale

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Energy Efficiency: Residential services and policy issues

Come hear how you can get make your house, apartment or condo energy efficient---and what policies we need to support and strengthen energy efficiency to create good jobs in PA. 

Monday, July 30, 2012

7 pm – 8:30 pm

Ethical Humanist Society, 1906 S. Rittenhouse Sq.


Jeff Lane
Green Contractor and Certified Energy Auditor

Robin Stallard or Tanya Morris
Energy Coordinating Agency

Tom Schuster
Sierra Club

Sponsored by the Sierra Club,

Light refreshments provided

Please RSVP to William Kramer at or 732-589-8024.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Citizen's Hearing on the EPA's Carbon Standard June 19

On Thursday, May 24, 2012, concerned doctors, nurses, moms, and everyday citizens descended on Washington, DC and Chicago to testify at public hearings on the EPA's proposed carbon standards for new power plants. Medical professionals and public health officials agree that carbon pollution, left unchecked, will contribute to climate change and an increase in dangerous smog, which will trigger more episodes of respiratory distress in children and seniors. For the approximately 15% of Pennsylvania children that have suffered from asthma, this new standard, which will reduce pollution by 123 billion pounds annually, will also help reduce missed school days, missed work days, severe asthma attacks, and hospital visits. The EPA’s proposed carbon pollution standard limiting industrial carbon pollution from new power plants is critical to protect the health of our children and families.

Without traveling to DC or Chicago, you too can speak out in support of this critical public health safeguard. Join us at a Citizen's hearing on the rule here in Southeastern Pennsylvania. To date over 1 Million comments have been submitted in support of this rule! This event will be an opportunity for Pennsylvania residents to learn more about the new carbon standards, hear expert testimony, and have a chance to submit your own official comments to the EPA at the event.

Philadelphia Citizens' Hearing on EPA's Carbon Standard:

June 19, 2012

5:00 – 8:00 PM

Philadelphia City Council Chambers

Philadelphia City Hall (Market & Broad Sts.) 19107

Host: City Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds-Brown

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Air Quality Is a Problem Facing Every Community

Dr. Albert A. Rizzo, a pulmonologist and critical care physician at Christiana Care Health System, recently wrote to the Delaware County Daily Times to express his concern about the air quality in the greater Philadelphia area. He has watched patients struggling to breathe across three decades of treating patients with lung disease. He makes the point that air pollution doesn't respect governmental boundaries. For example, the state of Delaware, which would otherwise have had a good grade for clean air, suffered from bad ozone pollution because it drifts in from other states. Polluted air is a shared problem.

When we think about clean air, more than anything else we need to think about the future of our children. It's hard to think when you can't breathe well. It's hard to study, or run or walk or go bicycling or play basketball or even just hang out with your friends. We all want every child to grow up healthy and achieve great things -- but you need to be able to study and think and run and play as a child to do that. We need cleaner air. I strongly endorse Dr. Rizzo's thoughts and comments and thank him for writing.

Jeanette MacNeille,
President, Millbourne Borough Council


Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Philadelphia Clean Energy Happy Hour! Monday, May 14th.

Monday, May 14 join other Sierra Club supporters and their friends at The Public House for a fun, social, informative, and action-oriented happy hour.

We'll connect with other Sierra Club supporters and groups promoting clean energy in the Philadelphia area. Activist teams are forming for outreach, clean energy, media and social media, and alliance building. Whatever your interest or skill level, there's lots of ways to get involved and free appetizers are provided!

This weeks' happy hour is also a letter to the editor writing party, so come with your laptop or some pen and paper and be prepared to spend a few minutes writing a letter.

You're invited! RSVP today for our event!

WHAT: Clean energy happy hour
Monday May 14th, 5:30 PM-7:30 PM
Public House, 1801 Arch Street, Philadelphia, PA (map)


Thanks for all you do to protect the environment,
William Kramer
Pennsylvania Beyond Coal
Sierra Club


Monday, April 30, 2012

Air Quality Awareness Week

April 30th through May 4th is national Air Quality Awareness Week. For anyone who has asthma, any lung disease, diabetes, or a cardiovascular problem, the enviroflash website is useful online resource that will warn you about air quality problems that are expected in the Philadelphia area. I subscribe to the service. Once a day, it tells you - via email or Twitter - what's expected in terms of both ozone and particulates, the two major culprits for anyone who needs clean air.

It helps me plan my days. For example, if I see that tomorrow's air quality is expected to be poor (orange or red or purple), I'll plan to exercise at the Y or do calisthenics in my apartment rather than bicycling on the Schuylkill Valley Bike Path. I'll avoid walking on busy streets, because the cars and trucks spew particulates into the air on those streets in addition to whatever is already in the air. If ozone is the predicted problem, I'll avoid going outside during the hottest parts of the day when possible. I pay particular attention to how my lungs feel throughout the day, and take extra meds if necessary early on, rather than risk an emergency room visit that night or the next day.

If I see that the forecast is good — clean air days are indicated in green on the report, I heave a small sigh of relief and realize that I'm likely to be better off. I find it useful and would recommend it highly to anyone who wants to track the air quality in our area.

Jeanette MacNeille

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

EPA News Release: EPA Administrator Jackson and Philadelphia Mayor Nutter Sign Landmark Green City, Clean Waters Partnership Agreement

(PHILADELPHIA – April 10, 2012) U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Lisa P. Jackson and Philadelphia Mayor Michael A. Nutter, joined by U.S. Representative Allyson Schwartz and city and federal officials, signed an agreement that represents a $2 billion investment in Philadelphia green infrastructure during an event at the Fairmount Water Works.
Over the next 25 years, the Green City, Clean Waters partnership agreement will transform many of Philadelphia’s traditional hardened surfaces to green areas to better manage potentially harmful rainwater runoff pollution. This unique federal – city partnership is designed to ensure the success of the Green City, Clean Waters Plan and to present the plan as a national model for cities embracing green stormwater infrastructure. Green infrastructure investments make our communities cleaner, healthier, and more attractive places to live and work.

"The EPA is proud to be working in partnership to support green infrastructure advances that will lead to cleaner waters and a stronger economy for the city of Philadelphia. This city has earned a place as a national and global leader on sustainable innovation and clean water protection," said EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson. "The Green City, Clean Waters Partnership promises to lead the way for communities across the nation, which can use the lessons learned through this long-term project to protect their health, safeguard their waters and boost their economies."
EPA will provide assistance to the city in identifying and promoting higher performing green infrastructure designs, convening technical expertise from around the country to advance green designs and support a green design competition, and help remove barriers to innovation in the city’s plan. EPA will also assist on research and technical assistance, and monitoring the effectiveness and evaluating benefits of the program through cooperation on water quality monitoring and modeling work that the city has undertaken.

“The Green City Clean Waters Plan is our proposal to revitalize our rivers and streams by managing stormwater in a way that provides multiple benefits. It will result in clean and beautiful waterways, a healthier environment and increased community value. The assistance of our many and diverse regulatory and public partners makes it the most cost effective investment of its kind in the country,” said Mayor Nutter. “Where other cities are challenged by very expensive commitments for tunnels, tanks and other gray infrastructure, we have worked with the state and the EPA to take this greener, more fiscally prudent approach that will realize multiple benefits.”
The city of Philadelphia is leading the development of green strategies to manage urban stormwater runoff – the 21st century’s greatest challenge to the health of our nation’s rivers and streams. Philadelphia’s Green City, Clean Waters Plan layers green technologies modeled on natural practices on top of the city’s 3,000 mile sewer network, Philadelphia’s 20th century investment in traditional “gray” infrastructure, to capture rainwater on the surface. Capturing rainwater prevents sewer overflows containing industrial and human waste from discharging to waterways during wet weather. It will transform streets, parking lots, schools, public spaces into urban landscapes that reduce sewer overflows to our waterways while enhancing our communities.

“The signing of this monumental agreement is a transformative step for urban environmental policy in the United States,” said Congresswoman Allyson Schwartz. “Philadelphia and the EPA's forward-looking collaboration on storm water runoff will help strengthen economic development, protect our drinking water and should serve as a model for cities around the country.”

Green City Clean Waters is based upon an adaptive management approach that will identify and maximize green practices that achieve the most efficient and cost effective environmental goals for the City of Philadelphia.

To view the agreement visit:

EPA: David Sternberg 215-814-5548
Philadelphia: Mark McDonald 215-686-6210


Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Clean Energy Forum With A Presentation From Our Own William Kramer

Clean Energy and Energy Efficiency:
Services for Residents and Key Policy Issues

Come hear how you can get clean energy into your apartment, 
house or condo---and what policies we all need to support and strengthen 
the industry to create good jobs in PA.

Sunday March 18th, 1:00-3:00pm
Bryn Gweled Community Center

Mark Bortman, Exact Solar

Tom Wells
Certified Sustainable Business Advisor, Certified Green Remodeler

William Kramer, Sierra Club

Jeffrey A. Smith, J.A. Smith Heating & Air Conditioning Inc.
“Upgrading Your HVAC Equipment?  Some things to think about for optimum energy efficiency”

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Purveyors of Poison

Republicans Attacking Mercury And Air Toxics Rule
Republican Senator James Inhofe has started the process to block the mercury and air toxics rule promulgated by the Environmental Protection Agency in December. If successful, the Congressional Review Act will prevent the agency from ever protecting our air and waters from this dangerous poison.

Mercury Is A Poison
Uncontrolled mercury emissions are responsible for "up to 11,000 premature deaths, 4,700 heart attacks and 130,000 asthma attacks every year." In Pennsylvania, streams run with mercury and power plants are the biggest source of this pollution.

EPA Rule Stops The Poison
The mercury regulation will stop 90% of the mercury currently being emitted by power plants. This will bring the power industry up to the same standards being met by medical waste incinerators and municipal waste combustors. The rule will save up to $90 billion in health costs each year, far above the estimated $10 billion in costs to utilities. Furthermore, in 2016, the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards will yield between $1.8 billion and $4.4 billion in benefits in Pennsylvania.

Mercury Rule Will Create Jobs
Recent studies have found that the mercury rule is likely to create 1.5 million jobs. These studies clearly refute claims that the rule adversely affects employment.

Sierra Club Strongly Supports The Mercury And Air Toxics Rule
The Sierra Club spoke strongly for the adoption of the mercury rule. It urged its members and the public to take action in support of the rule.

Take Action To Save The Rule
The Sierra Club has made it easy to contact your senators and representatives on this important issue. Use its simple web form to make your voice heard. Writing to the editor of your local paper is also important. Contact Sierra Club's William Kramer, william.kramer (at) sierraclub (dot) org, for some sample letters and send him a copy of the letter you write so that we can publish it on this blog.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

PAcleanAir: Our Social Media Campaign

To engage the public and our followers on issues that affect clean air, the media team of the Pennsylvania Clean Air Campaign is developing a social media portfolio. In this post, we'd like to briefly outline our current social media channels, and discuss how we are using these channels to get the word out to our audience.

Our Twitter feed, @PAcleanAir, is the most active channel. In addition to news about our events, this feed will provide links to the latest news about clean air and related topics, including the health effects of poor air quality, global warming, legislation and rules affecting the EPA, commentary and essays from talented environmental writers, and the latest major events impacting the environment. Please follow us!

On our Facebook page, PA Clean Air Campaign, we will keep you up to date on our latest events and on important breaking news affecting the issues on which we work. The Facebook page is less frenetic than the Twitter feed, and will highlight the most important news and events. Please friend us!

Our social bookmarking feed on provides links to important information that can be used as background material on topics of interest. A real advantage of this site is that each link is assigned "tags" that function much like keywords, but with the added feature that we can generate groups of links based on a particular tag (or several tags). For example, at, the user can access links about the EPA generally, but if you were only interested in the EPA's regulation of coal, then you can narrow your search to a subset of links that address that issue specifically at Using these tags, we can provide our readers with links that address particular topics, such as current legislation that affects the environment, the economics of EPA regulations, global warming, and letters to the editor that our group has published. Finally, a narrative exploring a particular topic can be gathered into a "stack." For example, we have recently addressed the fallacious arguments about "job-killing" EPA regulations in our stack, entitled "Assault on EPA couched as a jobs agenda."

Pictures and videos of our events can be found at our Flickr photostream and our YouTube channel, respectively. In addition, our YouTube channel will "favorite" videos of interest, particularly those from the national Sierra Club that address our current campaigns.

We encourage you to engage us on our various social media channels, and follow, friend, comment, like, retweet, etc. on your favorite social media outlets. We look forward to providing you the latest news and information on the topics of interest to our audience.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Testimony of Pennsylvania Clean Air's Carol Ward At EPA/NHTSA Clean Car Hearing In Philly

My name is Carol Ward. Thank you for this opportunity to give you my observations on the need for higher auto fuel efficiency standards for the U.S. The President has opened a vista of opportunity, a milestone in the environmental history of our nation.

Fuel Efficiency Needed To Curb Global Warming 

Since watching the movie by Al Gore, “An Inconvenient Truth”, I have been increasingly concerned about what our greenhouse gases are doing to the balance of nature. Almost every thinking person realizes that we are in a crisis and must to everything we can to remedy the situation. I don’t agree with the phrase “climate change”. I think “global warming is still the correct phrase. America produces 25% of the world’s greenhouse gases. Cars contribute greatly to these gases. So let’s create personal vehicles, small or large with much greater fuel efficiency.

Oil Dependence Jeopardizes Environment 

The results of America’s dependence on foreign oil are clear to see. The environmental cost of oil spills along irreplaceable coastlines destroys properties, recreational areas, fishing, wildlife, and wetlands. The other costs are financial since it is estimated that American families and businesses send one billion dollars a day overseas to the Middle East for oil.

Oil Dependence Jeopardizes National Security 

Think of the tremendous lowering of military costs if our dependence on even two Middle Eastern countries could be eliminated – and it can be by 2030 if the new standards are instituted.

New Standards Will Create New Jobs 

Our economy would benefit the new jobs that would be created. Pennsylvania alone might gain about 10,000 jobs instituting the new vehicle standards. Higher fuel efficiency could be a factor in helping our economy to recover.

New Standards Will Save Money 

In my own case, as a retiree on a fixed income with fairly high medical expenses, I have to budget carefully to cover the cost of the gas I use in my medium sized car. I spend roughly $2,000 a year on gasoline aside from extra trips of several hours each way. I am acutely aware that the high gas prices mean fewer discretionary purchases. I have not put on more than 9,000 miles a year because of conscious choice, making sure I grouped errands together in the same area as well as just doing less driving in general.

New Standards Will Protect Health 

Automobile pollution today contributes to asthma and COPD. Think of the relief that parents would feel if their children could do without medications for asthma and inhalers. Chronic chest conditions are very serious these days. We as citizens need to do all we can to encourage our representatives to stand behind the new standards. This will set an example for other countries and let them know we are serious about preserving the environment, our health, and our economy.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Testimony of Pennsylvania Clean Air's Gillian Norris-Szanto at EPA/NHTSA Clean Car Hearing in Philly

Car Exhausts Threaten Health of Children
My statement is brief. Particulates in the exhaust produced by passenger cars, medium-duty passenger vehicles, and light-duty trucks are a major cause of smog and air-borne pollution, particularly in cities. Children are more affected by breathing smog-polluted air than adults because of their smaller body size; and being shorter than adults, they breathe city air at exhaust-pipe level. Poor outdoor air conditions cause or exacerbate respiratory diseases, including asthma. An estimated 25% of children in Philadelphia have asthma, and the number of cases appears to be increasing. It is so obviously unfair to expose children to crippling, chronic respiratory illnesses that I can only ask, “What has happened to our sense of fairness and our compassion toward children, not to mention the others, such as the elderly, who are also vulnerable to respiratory disease? What happens to a society when it ceases to care enough about the health and future of all its children? “

Improving Fuel Efficiency Is Important Step 

Further reducing greenhouse gas emissions through standards that improve the efficiency of the U.S. light-duty vehicles in question will be one step toward reducing disease-causing pollutants. I applaud the EPA’s and the NHTSA’s work to further improve fuel economy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Sister Mary Elizabeth Clark Testifies At EPA/NHTSA Clean Car Hearing In Philly

My name is Sister Mary Elizabeth Clark. I am a Sister of Saint Joseph of Philadelphia, PA and an Ambassador of the U.S. Catholic Bishops Climate Change Coalition. I minister at Chestnut Hill College as assistant to the president for sustainability and as director of the Earth Center. Working with many other people of faith, I am here to urge you to keep the ethical and moral perspectives as a lens for your deliberations. Thank you for this opportunity to speak to you.

Protecting Air Is Moral Issue
As people of religious faith, we believe that the atmosphere that supports life on earth is a God-given gift, one we must respect and protect. It unites us as one human family. If we harm the atmosphere, we dishonor our Creator and the gift of creation. The values of our faith call us to humility, sacrifice, and a respect for life and the natural gifts God has provided.

As the U.S. Bishops said in 2001, “At its core, global climate change is not about economic theory or political platforms, nor about partisan advantage or interest group pressures. It is about the future of God's creation and the one human family. It is about protecting both "the human environment" and the natural environment.” Global Climate Change A Plea for Dialogue Prudence and the Common Good A Statement of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops , June 15, 2001
Since I am representing those who see this issue from a faith perspective, I want to be clear that I trust the Sierra Club and its scientific expertise. From their research I believe this regulation to be the single biggest step in our country to tackle global warming, therefore, I urge you to accept the President’s proposal without loopholes.

For more than 14 billion years, our Planet Earth has sustained itself and life as we know it. In my own lifetime, I have experienced a growing dependency on oil. From the millions of tons of plastics now filling landfills to the burning of fossil fuels beyond our imagining, the use of oil has created a dependency similar to an addict’s. As a result, our one precious Earth cannot continue to sustain life as we know it.

Our Responsibility To Future Generations
How irresponsible can we humans be to allow this phenomenon to happen? Earth is a sacred trust given to us by the Creator. As people of faith, we see this tragedy as a moral one. There are ways we can diminish the effects of our polluting the air by reducing gas emissions now. What would we say to the next generations if we know what we could do to effect change yet we refused to do it?
As we take personal and communal actions in our churches to mitigate the effects of global climate change, it is not possible to make a significant difference without your taking the necessary systemic action within our federal government. We call on you as our federal protection to approve the proposal of President Obama.

The amount suggested by the President is not enough but at least it is a beginning. Please think carefully about the consequences of your decisions. By the year 2030, the proposed standards would cut annual oil consumption by nearly 23 billion gallons, roughly equivalent to the U.S. imports from Saudi Arabia and Iraq in 2010. Although this is not enough, how can we not do the minimum?

Monday, February 20, 2012

Testimony of Pennsylvania Clean Air's Mary Alice Cicerale At EPA/NHTSA Clean Car Hearing in Philly

My name is Mary Alice Cicerale. I am a long-time librarian. I am a Philadelphia resident and a member of both the Sierra Club and the American Association of Retired Persons. Thank you for this opportunity to meet with you tonight.

We All Need Clean Air
I am like every American. I want to breathe clean air, use and drink clean water and enjoy unpolluted land. That’s why I support environmental organizations that work to ensure a healthy earth for present and future generations.

Although, I'm not a grandparent myself, I care for grandchildren everywhere and for the future generations we speak of; and I care for all my friends and relatives. Young or old, active or not, we all share a common need with all of humanity: clean air. Enjoying the outdoors requires clean air, but it is not always there. Just recently, I could not hike with one of my best friends in Phoenix. He has health issues and the smog index was too high.

When I was a child, I only wanted to be out-of-doors. Coming inside, even in winter, was a trial. It felt like an unfair exile, or a punishment. Today, going outside, hiking, and being outdoors in general is still very important for me.

Fuel Efficiency Standards Ensure Clean Air
Last summer I was happy to see that the new standards for vehicles sold this year through 2016 were set: a sensible 35.5 miles per gallon and 250 grams of carbon pollution per mile. And this November, I was even happier to see that the Environmental Protection Agency and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration upheld the white house-proposed standards for new passenger cars and trucks sold from 2017 through 2025.

These proposed fuel efficiency standards are important steps in the right direction. They are also the biggest steps we can take to reduce our dependence on oil and significantly cut carbon pollution.

Americans Are Passionate About Clean Environment
I joined the Sierra Club because I care so much about being outdoors and holding on to that one natural joy of childhood. But today, with this testimony, the club also gives me a chance to make a personal difference.

Americans who cannot be here tonight say with us: we applaud your efforts to ensure clean air, unpolluted land and fresh water on this lovely North American continent. We all share these basic, passionate concerns -- clean air and unpolluted water.

Please continue to uphold the integrity of the final standards. Do not allow loopholes, credits, and flexibilities to undermine the stringency of vehicle standards. Please have the best interests of our future at heart and continue work for transportation guidelines that protect everyone.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Clean Energy Forum on Sun., Feb. 19, 2012

Clean Energy and Energy Efficiency:
Services for Residents and Key Policy Issues

Come hear how you can get clean energy and improve energy efficiency into your apartment, house or condo---and what policies we all need to support and strengthen the industry to create good jobs in PA.

Sunday, February 19, 2012
3 pm- 5 pm

Ethical Humanist Society, 1906 S. Rittenhouse Sq.

Andrew Kleenman, Solar Businessman and VP, PA Solar Energy Industry Association

Meg Denney, Community Energy, renewable energy provider

Representative from PECO Energy

Light refreshments provided
Please RSVP to William Kramer at:
william.kramer (at ) or 732-589-8024.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Testimony of Pennsylvania Clean Air's Lynn Godmilow At EPA/NHTSA Clean Car Hearing In Philly

Europe Has Had Fuel Efficient Cars For Decades
Seems to me the issue is simple. Those opposing these new standards represent the auto industry and they should have focused on making lots of much smaller cars a long time ago. My first car (1965) was a VW bug and when I traveled to Europe for the first time in the 60's I was very impressed with the large number of very small cars. London, Amsterdam and Rome were filled with small cars (including most taxi cabs). There were very few of the large cars popular in the US at the time. If the Big 3 American car makers had stopped making large sedans cars and instead made much smaller cars that use less gas but have a higher MPG, we would be far ahead now. Of course the CEO’s wouldn’t have made so much money but that can hardly be seen as a bad thing. In addition, the cost of gasoline in Europe is much higher than the cost of gas in the US. This is related to taxation of gasoline and is another factor in convincing the population to drive smaller, more efficient cars.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Testimony of Pennsylvania Clean Air's Susan Wolf At EPA/NHTSA Clean Car Hearing in Philly

Good day. My name is Susan Wolf. I am happy to be a citizen of the United States and have the opportunity to speak at this public hearing in favor of higher auto fuel efficiency standards.

Climate Change Is A Major Concern
I speak as a citizen who is very concerned about climate change and its effect on our planet, the people and creatures that inhabit the Earth, and all of nature that is being affected by the changes that we all are witnessing. The scientific community is alarmed by the serious damage that has already occurred to our planet. The EPA has written about the harm that is projected to come to the all of us as a result of climate change, and, as you know, this information is found on your own website.

The EPA site addresses how climate change will impact temperature changes leading to increased heat waves affecting vulnerable people including those with heart problems, asthma, the elderly and the very young. Your site acknowledges that there will be increases in extreme weather such as floods and hurricanes as well as droughts, leading to event related deaths, injuries, infectious diseases and stress-related illnesses. Your site also address that temperature increases will lead to an increase in mosquitoes and other insects leading to a rise in such diseases as malaria, yellow fever and dengue fever. It also focuses on how all this will impact agriculture and food production, leading to problems with starvation, as already witnessed in Africa. And we certainly witnessed the effects of drought in Texas this past summer and its impact on cattle and agriculture and food production.

Carbon Emissions Carry High Health Costs
I am very concerned about the impact of carbon emissions on health and the increase in such diseases as cancer, asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and cardiovascular disease. Those most at risk are children, the elderly, and those with compromised immune systems. These diseases are costly in money, health and general emotional well-being. I would like to see some studies around the impact of carbon emissions on health care costs. And of course, we feel more of the impact in densely populated areas- such as in Philadelphia. I who live in Cherry Hill feel it more and more as we increase the number of shopping centers and subsequent cars on the road.

Government Standards Are Needed
I am grateful for the Clean Air Act. And now I am extremely pleased with the improved fuel efficiency standards that have been proposed by the Obama Administration. I urge that these standards are adopted without any exemptions to their rules if we are to take climate change seriously.

We as a nation need to take climate change seriously. We must abide by standards that will cut carbon emissions and the health risks that are associated with it. We must reduce our addiction to oil and continue to be creative with the development of renewable energy sources. I know we can and will be successful with this endeavor.

By adopting these standards we as a nation show we are serious in our concern. These standards are a win-win for all. I applaud the Obama administration for developing these standards and taking climate change seriously.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Testimony of Pennsylvania Clean Air's Carol Weinbaum at EPA/NHTSA Clean Car Hearing in Philly

Welcome to Philadelphia. So glad you came, and to a Center City location, easy to access by public transit!! Speaking as a concerned citizen of our city, I’m someone who is a joiner of groups such as the Sierra Club and the League of Women Voters. I support actions and legislation which are based not in selfish interest nor in economic gain, but in benefit to all Americans, for now and into future years.

Important To Reduce Gasoline Consumption
Your efforts on behalf of reducing the use of automobile fuel and stressing the value of its economies are much appreciated. It is my belief that too many of us use too much gas, spend too much time in our cars, and think too little about the consequences of those actions. If we do not voluntarily reduce that usage, then we must have governmental and legislative actions to enforce the value of such reduction.

The League of Women Voters last July studied effects of gasoline emissions and other pollutants on air quality, and issued a Clean Air Promise. I will read brief excerpts from that:

We indicate that good health of all citizens is impacted by poor air quality, and we know that emissions from motor vehicles are responsible for a hefty portion of that unhealthy air. Efforts should be made now and into the future to reduce bad effects.

Market Forces Insufficient
I have here a part of a publication by the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) which indicates many ways in which auto travel may be costly. Last year, citing this AARP figure, American households spent $3,235 on gas, which was $700 more than in 2010. In a time of tight budgets, low interest on our savings accounts, and so many home mortgage foreclosures, don’t we all wish that this expenditure could be going down instead of up? Shouldn’t the current high price of a gallon of gas be motivation enough to buy more economical vehicles? Shouldn’t we discourage the purchase of large vehicles such as minivans, crossovers and trucks which continue to ‘guzzle’ gas, even under the 2016 goals proposed? Licensing fees on large cars and trucks ought to be significantly high, so that potential owners would balance their need for such cars with the costs of ownership. Perhaps the price of gas doesn’t do it.

Important For Government To Act
We could also discuss the use of large amounts of gasoline as a balance of payments issue. Let’s not forget that much of the fuel we consume is bought from other countries. The top 5 of those are: Canada, Saudi Arabia, Mexico, Venezuela and Nigeria. Is it wise for us to continue to let dollars flow out to those countries? Some of them have political systems we may not support with our words, but we do with our wealth.

All the concerns I express are those of an ‘ordinary’ citizen. I have no expertise in chemistry to understand hydrofluorocarbons, CO2 emissions or scientifically measuring other air quaity concerns. Nor do I know much about the issues of climate change, ozone layer depletion nor the harm to future generations if we let these matters go unchecked.

I leave those matters to you, to the experts in our government, in agencies whom we entrust with our decision-making on matters too difficult for others of us to fully comprehend. Please know that there are many, many Philadelphians who did not come here today, who are likewise concerned, and whose health and economic well-being is tied up in the issues that you decide.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Testimony of Sierra Club President Robin Mann At EPA/NHTSA Clean Car Hearing In Philly

Thank you for holding this hearing today. I serve as President of the Sierra Club, the nation's oldest and largest grassroots environmental organization. The Board of Directors of our volunteer-led organization oversees all of the Sierra Club's national campaigns including our campaign to move the nation beyond oil. I am speaking today on behalf of the Club's 1.4 million members and supporters, and I am proud that a number of our members are here today and will also testify. Our Executive Director, Michael Brune, will be testifying in San Francisco, and our organization will submit detailed technical comments to the docket.

We strongly support EPA and NHTSA's proposed passenger vehicle efficiency and emission standards for 2017-2030. They will ensure that we build on the progress the administration set in motion with the 2012-2016 standards.

Climate Change Is Upon Us 

Nearly every day bone-chilling news circulates of additional evidence that we are cooking the planet and climate disruption has already begun -- extreme weather events occurring more frequently, drought-induced wildfires and crop failures, devastating flooding of coastal communities from sea-level rise, disruptions in critical habitat, migratory patterns and food chains.

Some of this week's scariest news came from the Arctic -- where sea ice is melting at unexpectedly alarming rates, allowing the release of giant methane plumes. The planet is screaming, and the time has come for us to stop turning a deaf ear to it.

Arguments In Favor of New Standards 

The arguments in favor of the proposed new standards are beyond compelling:
Technology: The technology exists to reach the new standards. It should not be reserved for higher-end consumers on the margin; it should be mainstreamed so that all consumers can take advantage of the fuel savings. Saving gas saves money, money consumers can put to better use.

Benefits to the economy: These new standards are a lifeline for American car manufacturing which had to be rescued when consumers demanded greater fuel efficiency in response to spiking gas prices. That consumer preference for increased fuel economy isn't going away, much as the oil companies would like it to. Meanwhile the economic boost of the new standards is projected at 484,000 jobs created economy-wide, and 43,000 in the auto industry alone. [1]

National security: U.S. Presidents going back to President Nixon have recognized that our oil addiction undermines our security, and president after president has committed to reducing our dependence on oil. On March 30, 2011, we welcomed President Obama’s commitment to cut oil imports by one-third over the next decade.[2] We recognize these standards can help make this President the one that keeps this promise. It is estimated the standards will reduce U.S. oil consumption by 1.5 million barrels per day in 2030 – the same amount we imported from Saudi Arabia and Iraq combined in 2010. [3]

Increasing dependence on extreme oil: Look no further than the Gulf. The nation's attention may have shifted away, but the Deepwater Horizon disaster continues to unfold. Economic dislocation persists in the coastal communities; we have not made them whole. And tar balls continue to wash up on shore as a reminder that the extent of the long-term ecosystem damage is still unknown. Yet the oil companies have the hubris to be pressing the administration hard to open up the pristine and treacherous waters of Alaska's Chuckchi Sea to deep drilling. And then there is tar sands oil -- the dirtiest oil on the planet, destructive enough to be seen from outer space. Let me take a moment here to express our thanks to the President for his very significant decision announced yesterday to reject the permit for the Keystone XL pipeline. This was the right decision, consistent with steering the nation towards solutions that reduce our dependence on oil, especially the dirtiest oil.

Public health: The public health benefits from spewing less fossil fuel pollution into our neighborhoods and shifting the fleet to the cleaner, more efficient cars will be enormous.

Climate Change: These standards promise a tremendous benefit in reduced greenhouse gas emissions. There is so much more that we need to do in this country to reduce our gluttonous use of energy and the associated emissions. Within the transportation sector alone, the opportunities are immense. But the single biggest step that we can take is the one the administration has proposed here. Implementing these standards will keep an estimated 280 million metric tons of carbon dioxide out of the air in 2030, equivalent to shutting down 72 coal-fired power plants for a year. [4]

Let me recognize that my state of Pennsylvania is one of the dozen states that adopted California’s leading vehicle emissions standards. In joining California’s program, Pennsylvania demonstrated that Americans demand cleaner cars, including cars that spew out less greenhouse gases. We applaud California and the role it played with EPA and NHTSA in proposing these new standards that continue to cut greenhouse gas emissions.

Time is up. It is a national disgrace brought to us by the oil lobby that we have squandered so much time and opportunity to embrace such common sense solutions as maximizing fuel efficiency and cutting emissions. We thank the administration for stepping up and putting forward these strong new standards that offer such fundamental economic, national security, public health, and climate stabilizing benefits. We urge that that these standards remain strong and urge that the agencies issue a final rule in July.





Sunday, February 5, 2012

Testimony of Pennsylvania Clean Air's John Comella At EPA/NHTSA CleanCar Hearing in Philly

I strongly support the move to raise fuel-efficiency requirements for automobiles for two obvious reasons:
  1.  It reduces our dependence on foreign oil and leaves more domestic (and foreign) oil in the ground for my and others’ grandchildren.
  2. It reduces obnoxious pollutants in the atmosphere, including CO2, which is also a greenhouse gas which causes global warming..
Greenhouse Gases Have Created A Crisis
A recent study issued a report which stated that, if we don’t lower the CO2 content in the atmosphere, within 5 YEARS, it may be impossible to reverse runaway greenhouse effect. That will be a catastrophe of the first magnitude.

Auto Companies Have Ignored Problem For Decades
This is not the first time that I've advocated for improvements in auto fuel economy. During the OPEC energy crisis (1973), I wrote a letter to the CEO of General Motors, whom I knew personally from 1963 because he was then the liaison to the University of Detroit GM scholars, of which I was one. I asked him to have GM produce more fuel-efficient cars
  • A) to save consumers money and aggravation
  • B) to help avoid events like the Saudi-caused oil crisis.
I told him that the “next” crisis would probably be worse due to diminishing reserves of oil. I also pointed out that I “got off” easier in the crisis because my VW Beetle got much better mileage than the cars around me.

An underling replied and said that the CEO had recently retired but that she would pass my message along to his successor. But, she said, “GM has to build what consumers want” (big, powerful cars back then). I felt like writing back, but didn’t, to remind her that GM's advertising in large part CREATED the demand for big cars. Ironic isn’t it?

Friday, February 3, 2012

Testimony of Pennsylvania Clean Air's David Henderson at the EPA/NHTSA Clean Car Hearing in Philly

My name is David Henderson, and I appreciate the opportunity to speak in favor of higher auto fuel efficiency standards today. I am not a climate expert, economist or politician. I come here today as a father, as a concerned citizen and as a chemical engineer that worked in the field of alternative energy for over 10 years.

We Must Act To Prevent Global Warming
I believe that climate change is no longer an issue of scientific inquiry, but one of political will. There are many corporate interests that benefit from “denial of climate change”. They continue to profit from “Business as Usual” while the true costs of the pollution these industries create is borne by society. By continuing to enter into the debate over climate change, we allow the groups that profit from the status quo to control the dialog. The overwhelming consensus from the scientific community is that global warming is occurring and that human activities are contributing to it. As a society, the conversation we need to be having is not whether or not global warming is occurring, but what we are going to do to prevent it.

Free Market Will Not Control Greenhouse Gases
Some may argue that it is not the government’s role to tell automakers how efficient to make their cars; the free market will “correct itself”. I strongly disagree with this argument for a number of reasons:
  1. The free market has failed to address the problem so far – even though many climate experts believe that significant climate change is now already inevitable
  2. When it comes to pollution (and specifically global warming), we can’t afford to be reactive. It is far easier and cheaper to prevent pollution before it occurs than to perform remediation. Usually, remediation is just expensive damage control (think BP Oil Spill, PCB dumping in Hudson river) that cannot return an environment to a pristine state.
  3. Perhaps the most compelling reason that the free market is ineffective at regulating pollution is that the true cost of pollution is almost always external to the market. For example, in Pennsylvania we currently get a little over 50% of our electricity from coal fired power plants. Free market economics would view paying your electric bill in Pennsylvania as a “win win” where both the consumer and the power plant owner benefit from the exchange. The free market does not consider Externalities such as the estimated 24,000 lives that are shortened each year due to the pollutants emitted by coal fired power plants. The free market does not include the costs of deforestation due to acid rain, the mercury that ends up in our fish and birds or the damage caused by mountain top removal.
A similar argument can be made when a consumer purchases an automobile and then fills up the tank. Though the impact of the CO2 emissions are hard to quantify, rising sea levels, malaria, drought, famine and more extreme weather are often cited as examples.

Government Action Needed
One of the important roles of government is to regulate the “negative” externalities of economic transactions. I believe that increasing the CAFE (corporate average fuel economy) standards is a step in the right direction, and I urge you to make it happen.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Testimony of Pennsylvania Clean Air's Janet Cooke at the EPA/NHTSA Clean Car Hearing in Philly

Thank you for the opportunity to speak with you. I am here today to support any and all decisions that you make which will insure that the Earth and its atmosphere will remain viable, clean and safe for our children.

Grandchildren Deserve A Healthy Earth
Just three years ago I became a grandmother for the first time. I now have two grandchildren, my grandson, Karsten, will be three in April and my granddaughter, Lena, is 7 months old. People who are grandparents know that ensuring the best possible future for children is an extremely important focus for life. Having grandchildren places ones view of the “future” in a clear perspective. It’s not like it would be nice to do this or that to support the Earth’s future –It becomes imperative that we do everything we can and know how to do to stop adding poisons and pollutants into the air and water and to control destructive procedures and policies that contribute to global warming. Without a healthy earth and atmosphere there can be no real future for our grandchildren and all the generations of grandchildren to come.

Center City Is Built Around Parks
I live in Center City Philadelphia and I enjoy hanging out in one or another of four squares established by William Penn and his city planner, Thomas Holme, 300 years ago. Their city plan laid out the streets in a grid and on the grid were to be five squares of open land - one in the center of town and one in each of four quadrants around that center square. Penn envisioned that the city of Philadelphia would be a “green, country town.”

Today, City Hall fills up most of the center square. At the top of City Hall stands a tall bronze statue of William Penn, created by the sculptor, Alexander Calder. I believe you can still take a tour up to the top of the Penn sculpture where you can view the entire city. From the visitors’ viewing point up there, you - and Penn - can see each of the other four other squares that were part of the original town plan.

Those four squares are now called Washington Square Park, Franklin Park, Logan Circle and Rittenhouse Square. On any given day, in each of these areas, adults and children enjoy relaxation and a little bit of nature right in the middle of a very busy city. What will life in these parks be like if global warming continues to increase?

Parks Are Family Places
One weekend morning in summer, I walked over to Washington Square Park, chose a bench covered by just the right amount of shade and sat down. It was early and there were just a few people in the park. A young couple with a small baby had laid out a blanket on the grass. They busily set up a small picnic. Across the walkway, four young women were rehearsing a phrase from a ballet routine, barefoot, counting out the timing, doing their jumps over and over again in the grass. Soon an old woman pushed her walker slowly past me, as an old man whizzed around her in his motorized wheelchair. Looking in another direction, on an open patch of grass, I saw a young father with a baseball and wearing a catcher’s mitt, standing several paces across from three boys who stood more or less in a line facing him. My guess is the boys were about 7, 9 and 10 years old, and each had his own catchers mitt as well. One by one the father tossed the ball to each of the boys who threw the ball back to the father. I was impressed. They were all very good!

This park is maintained by the National Park Service and one day last fall, I watched Park Rangers gather up huge piles of fallen leaves with their blowers and rakes. As the rangers waited for park service trucks to remove the leaves, they relaxed leaning on their rakes, watching as neighborhood kids ran over and started jumping into their piles of leaves.

Franklin Park is all about families Everyone is welcome and everyone comes. You can watch little kids and big kids climbing on equipment and swinging on swings scaled to fit different ages. It’s great to see parents who look different and speak different languages, helping their kids and other kids as well. Many families bring lunch and enjoy relaxing at one of the picnic tables. Some ride the beautiful carousel while others play miniature golf on a course built around miniature landmarks from the City of Philadelphia.

Parks Are Places of Respite
The third square , Logan Square, isn’t actually a square anymore. Logan Square became Logan Circle when the Parkway streets were cut out in an angle toward what is now the site of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. To enjoy Logan Circle is to relax on one of the benches around Swann Fountain with its large swan sculptures (designed by Alexander Calder, the son of the Alexander Calder who designed City Hall’s William Penn sculpture) and listen to the splashing waters. The flowers and plants in Logan Circle make it a wonderful respite for walkers who are going to the art museum and to those who plan to stop at the Franklin Institute or the Academy of Natural Sciences, both of which are right near the circle. When I worked at the art museum, I often walked home to Center City. On hot summer days, I always looked forward to reaching Logan Circle. It’s amazing how cool it is to be walking along side the splashing water of the fountain. The children who play in the fountain know just what I mean!

The last of the four squares is Rittenhouse Square, across town to the west from Washington Square, and like Washington Square, Rittenhouse is filled with large shade trees and paths lined with many benches. The tall buildings along the boundary streets make Rittenhouse Square scene feel more urban than the other parks. Restaurants around the square have tables outside so their diners can watch the park people who are watching them. Toddlers slowly take their first steps in the warm sunshine while older people walk slowly and carefully past. People come to Rittenhouse Square to relax, to enjoy an ice cream cone, to play cards, to read a book, do yoga, chat with friends or strangers, to listen to the street musicians – or maybe - to just do nothing!

You see, the layout for William Penn’s Greene Country Towne still is a great success. These four parks continue to provide open spaces for relaxing and enjoying time with family and friends. But the respite these spaces offer can only continue as long as the climate of the Earth stays in balance.

Pollution Will Destroy The Parks
What will life in these squares be like if the effects of global warming increase? Will people still enjoy these beautiful squares fully, as they do now?

I don’t think so. As the planet’s atmosphere warms and the air holds more pollutants, will mothers want to take their toddlers to parks when a haze of particulate matter hangs in the aIr? Will they let their children float little boats on ponds where mosquitoes are breeding? Will people enjoy looking at fountain sculptures as algae grows over the surfaces? Will older people and children want to be active in air that is filled with noxious gasses? Of course, not.

Controlling Car Emissions Preserves A Healthy Earth
I’m thinking again of my grandchildren, Karsten and Lena. Today, we look to you who work with the Environmental Protection Agency and members of the Obama administration who share these concerns for the future. We wholeheartedly support the work that you are doing! Yes, please do pass these new regulations raising the miles/per/gallon for cars to 54.5 and limiting the CO2 emissions to 163 grams.

And do continue to focus attention on what we humans can do to keep our Earth the beautiful and livable place we know it can be. In this way we can then ensure that in another 300 years, people may still enjoy William Penn’s Green Country Town.

Thank you again for giving me this opportunity to talk with you. In conclusion, I wish you a pleasant stay in Philadelphia and I would like to extend a special invitation to you to visit the squares in William Penn’s Green Country Town.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Testimony of Pennsylvania Clean Air's Steve Harvey at the EPA/NHTSA Clean Car Hearing in Philly

My name is Steve Harvey. I am a resident of Philadelphia, where I work as a lawyer. I ride my bike back and forth to work every day, except in the most extreme weather. My wife and I have two young children, ages 7 and 8. It’s largely for the benefit of my children and future generations that I testify today.

Growing Oil Demand Creating Serious Problems 

It seems to me inescapably true that the population on this planet is growing. More and more people here in the United States and throughout the world are driving cars, and the use of oil and its byproduct gasoline to fuel our cars and trucks is creating long-term serious problems for our environment. At the same time, we have serious economic and security issues related to the use of oil, as the worldwide demand for oil increases. In short, we have a bundle of various serious problems related to our use of oil.

This Generation Must Act 

Doing nothing is not an option. We have to address these issues. If we don’t address these issues, in not very many years we will experience very negative effects on our physical health, our economy, and our national security. If we don’t address these issues, I fear that the children of today as well as future generations will not look back on our generation with the same fondness we look back on prior generations. If we don’t address these issues, no one will call us “the greatest generation.”

One Action Is Increasing Fuel Efficiency Standards 

The good news, the very hopeful news, is that as a society we are beginning to address the challenges we face, including thinking of ways to decrease the amount of oil we use. And I for one am very grateful that the US EPA is leading the way, with its many initiatives and efforts, including with NHTSA the proposed increase in the fuel efficiency standards for cars and light trucks in model years 2017-2025 that brings us here today.

This Action Is a No-Brainer 

I have spoken to many people about the proposed fuel efficiency standards -- to family, friends, colleagues, and neighbors. The reaction of virtually everyone I have spoken to about this can be summed up in the words of a woman I met at an exercise class this morning. “Seems like a no brainer,” she said. That’s exactly what this proposal for increased fuel efficiency is – a no brainer. I know that the EPA and NHTSA cannot just call something a no brainer and make it law, so I appreciate and thank you for holding this hearing and for the thoughtful way you approach this subject. I sincerely hope that the EPA and NHTSA will take this very important step toward decreasing our dependence on oil for the benefit of our children and future generations. And maybe, just maybe, if we take this step and some other similarly prudent and wise steps those future generations will admire us for thinking ahead and taking prudent action to protect ourselves, our planet, and our way of life by decreasing our dependence on oil.

Let me close by thanking you for your attention. And let me thank the other panelists. I take real hope knowing that there are so many compelling spokespersons on this important issue. This is our generation’s time to stand and face the greatest threat of our time.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Testimony of Pennsylvania Clean Air's Sue Edwards at the EPA/NHTSA Clean Car Hearing in Philly

Climate Change Necessitates The Curbing of Greenhouse Gases 
My name is Sue Edwards, and I appreciate the opportunity to speak in favor of higher auto fuel efficiency standards.  I speak as a citizen who has been reading all I can in the past few years on scientists' findings about climate change.  It is clear to me that the vast majority of authoritative, peer-reviewed scientific studies conclude that there is already serious damage being done to fragile balances of nature as humans continue to spew carbon dioxide, methane, and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.  I am concerned enough about this that I was one of over 1,200 people who committed civil disobedience and were arrested at the White House at the end of this past summer to call for rejection of the Keystone XL Pipeline that would end up massively increasing the amount of greenhouse gases going into the atmosphere.  I applaud President Obama's rejection of that pipeline this week.

I am very encouraged by the improved fuel efficiency standards that have been proposed,  and I urge you to adopt them without loopholes.  We need to curb our use of fossil fuels if we are to have a livable planet for our children and grandchildren.  I have two sons and hope there may be grandchildren in my future, so I have a big stake in doing my part so they'll have an environment that's livable--not just for cockroaches, but also for humans!

Climate Change Is Here
I'm sure you must be aware of the many predictions that were made in 2007 by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) about the effects of climate change in a wide variety of places on our planet.  Devastatingly, a whole litany of these predictions have come about precisely as the IPCC warned. 

Examples from 2010 include the hottest summer on record in Russia, with a drought that sparked hundreds of wildfires, reducing the wheat harvest by over one-third; Pakistan's heaviest monsoon rains on record; northwest China's floods and landslides, which killed at least 1,100 people; Iowa's wettest 36-month period in 127 years of record-keeping, with flood-waters which forced hundreds from their homes; and the breaking off of a 100-square-mile chunk of ice from the great Petermann Glacier in Greenland, the biggest ice island to calve in the Arctic in a half-century of observation. Worldwide temperature readings show that  the first half of  2010 was the hottest six months since record-keeping began in the mid-19th century.  17 nations recorded all-time-high temperatures in 2010, more than in any other year.

2011 was no better, with a summer that was the third hottest on record for the globe as a whole.  There were an unprecedented number of weather-related disasters, including droughts in Texas and East Africa.  Thailand, Australia, Colombia, and Brazil all experienced floods that were either the deadliest or the most costly natural disasters in their histories.  The U.S. had major floods, too, but most of our weather-related natural disasters involved tornadoes and other storms. Iowa and Missouri had heightened tornado activity, including the one in Joplin, MO, that killed 161 people.

As a Quaker, my faith holds that “We recognize that the well-being of the Earth is a fundamental spiritual concern....Our planet as a whole, not just the small parts of it in our immediate custody, requires our responsible attention.”   I firmly believe that humankind has the intelligence to understand our situation and act swiftly to protect the environment upon which we are dependent.  What we need is the courage and political will to act.  I urge you to adopt the strongest possible fuel efficiency standards for the sake of the future of humankind.

Blog by Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune -  January 5, 2012.

A summer of extremes:  Scientists point to weather cataclysms as a sign of climate change.
By Charles J. Hanley – August 13, 2010.  Press.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Better fuel efficiency: What's not to like?

By Robin Mann

With prices at the pump high and threatening to climb higher, we need better, more efficient cars that guzzle less gas. That's why I joined hundreds of my fellow Pennsylvanians at a public hearing in Philadelphia last week to testify in support of new standards that would mean significant savings for drivers, cleaner air, a safer climate, more jobs, and better vehicle choices.

A few weeks ago, President Obama proposed strengthening fuel-efficiency and carbon-pollution standards for cars and light trucks to 54.5 m.p.g. by 2025. That means the average Pennsylvania family buying a car in 2025 would save more than $3,500 on gas over the car's lifetime, even after paying for fuel-saving technology.

Instead of sending nearly $1 billion a day overseas for oil, we could be investing it in businesses here in Philadelphia and around the state. America's oil addiction also puts our troops at risk around the world and our health at risk here. Burning and refining oil releases contaminants that cause respiratory illnesses, trigger asthma attacks, and can harm lung function and development.

Burning fossil fuels is also cooking the planet. Nearly every day brings news of severe droughts and devastating storms that show climate change is well under way. A spike in the number of extreme weather events, shifts in migratory patterns, drought-induced wildfires and crop failures, devastating floods of coastal communities due to rising sea levels, and disruptions of critical habitats and food chains are costing us billions of dollars and threatening our way of life.

Cleaner cars that burn less oil won't solve all these problems, but they are an important part of the solution.

Last week in Philadelphia, I stood alongside veterans, public-health officials, small-business owners, and other concerned citizens who support cleaner cars. They aren't unusual. Higher fuel-efficiency standards enjoy the support of three-quarters of Americans. And 13 major auto manufacturers, including Detroit's "Big Three," have committed to strong standards.

It's not hard to understand why the idea is popular. Stronger efficiency standards would drive demand for fuel-saving technology and put money back in Americans' pockets. They would create an estimated 484,000 jobs by 2030, including 43,000 in the auto industry. And we would be using 1.5 million fewer barrels of oil per day by 2030 - the same amount we imported from Saudi Arabia and Iraq combined last year. That would have the same impact on carbon pollution as shutting down 72 coal-fired power plants for a year.

President Obama's proposal to double the efficiency of America's cars and light trucks would be the biggest single step we have ever taken to break our dangerous addiction to oil and tackle climate disruption. It should not be seen as a partisan or controversial notion. Saving families thousands of dollars, cutting pollution, creating jobs, and protecting the climate should be benefits we can all get behind.

Robin Mann is the president of the Sierra Club and a resident of Rosemont.

This Op-Ed Article Was Cross-Posted from The Philadelphia Inquirer