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.