In November, I wrote to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy to support EPA’s comprehensive Clean Power Plan to lower carbon pollution while urging EPA to adopt a structure that would be fairer to the Commonwealth. Pennsylvania powers states throughout the region and has made great strides as a leader in the development of clean energy sources.
We must be serious about the threat of climate change for the sake of public health, national security and children’s health. I support the need for a comprehensive climate change plan. We must rise to the challenge of climate change and revitalize our economy by increasing our efforts in the areas of energy efficiency; developing and adopting cleaner ways of producing electricity; and creating jobs.
The key points of my letter:
- We must take action on climate change because it poses a serious threat to public health, the environment and national security.
- The transition to cleaner energy must include a pathway for multiple forms of electricity generation including clean coal, natural gas, nuclear, hydropower, wind, solar, biomass and other renewables, as well as energy efficiency measures.
- EPA’s comprehensive four-building-block plan is a necessary and effective approach to reducing carbon pollution.
- Pennsylvania is a net-energy-producing state (generating more power than it consumes) whose economy is built on affordable electricity for manufacturing and other energy-intensive industries.
- EPA’s renewable energy target for Pennsylvania imposes an unequal burden on the Commonwealth relative to other states with much greater renewable energy potential, and it wouldn’t be possible to get greater carbon pollution reductions from the other three building blocks in Pennsylvania.
- EPA must give greater recognition to zero-carbon sources such as nuclear power and hydropower to provide an incentive for these sources to remain in operation, as they make up a large portion of Pennsylvania’s electricity sources that would lower its carbon pollution rate.
Earlier this week, I spent some time in Lawrence County. On Monday evening I wrapped up my day by joining local farmers and constituents at the Lawrence County Fair. As I walked through the fair, I was able to meet many of the dedicated farmers and youth involved in this annual summer tradition. I saw firsthand the variety of exhibits that showcase the ingenuity and ongoing growth of the agriculture industry in Pennsylvania. I was particularly impressed with the Mobile Ag Education Science Lab. This lab travels to schools across the state, educating students on the agriculture industry. By providing a hands on experience, children are making the important connection between agriculture and the food on their table.
On Tuesday, I visited Ellwood City to see the work they are doing with Appalachian Lighting Systems Inc. Appalachian Lighting is a local manufacturer of high-efficiency LED fixtures. Through the use of funds from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, Ellwood City was able to increase their orders through Appalachian Lighting resulting in significant energy efficiency improvements for the Borough. This partnership is an impressive example of how these funds can be utilized to stimulate business, encourage cost saving improvements, and foster economic growth. My father visited Ellwood City often, and I know he too would be proud of Ellwood City and the great work they are doing.
Yesterday I visited DonJon Shipbuilding in Erie with Congresswoman Dahlkemper and saw firsthand the exciting new manufacturing opportunities that are developing there. We not only viewed current construction on a tugboat, but also learned about a prototype energy efficient hydro tug that DonJon is developing with General Electric. These projects hold the potential of bringing many high paying jobs back to Erie and both the Congresswoman and I are proud to welcome DonJon to Pennsylvania and support its efforts.
Later in the day we also visited Fairview Swiss Cheese in Mercer to view an anaerobic digester. This technology converts waste products from the facility into energy to power the plant. This is exactly the type of public/private partnership that we need to see more of in Pennsylvania. It is an excellent example of the type of innovation that will help our country wean itself of its dependence on fossil fuels.
I'd like to commend and congratulate Crayola on the opening of a brand-new 15 acre solar farm at their world headquarters. Joining with two other Pennsylvania companies, UGI Energy Services Inc. of Reading and PPL Corporation of Allentown, Crayola is helping Pennsylvania manufacturing go green with the help of money from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The 1.9-megawatt solar farm will generate enough power to make over 1 billion crayons per year! Now Crayola can proudly boast that their crayons are "made with sunshine."
Children came from across the country to help plug the solar farm into the Crayola factory. These children won a nationwide contest to envision a greener world. I am glad to know that Crayola crayons, markers, and colored pencils, helped these children harness their own creative talents.
This project is an example of the change we can make when we all work together. The Recovery Act provided a $1.5 million grant to fund a large portion of the solar project, and the Business Energy Investment Tax Credit, which I voted for, provided tax credits for 30% of the capital investment. Because of these incentives, Crayola plans to expand the solar farm over the next few years and create many more jobs in Pennsylvania.
Last week in Canonsburg, PA, 1,200 people attended an EPA public listening session on concerns associated with hydraulic fracturing during natural gas drilling. Since the U.S. Senate was in session and I was unable to attend the event, I asked a staff member from my Pittsburgh office to attend and read my statement on the EPA’s proposed study of hydraulic fracturing and potential impacts on drinking water.
Pennsylvania has a history of environmental hardships, most created in previous generations when federal regulations promoting responsible natural resource development did not exist. For example, Pennsylvania has old natural gas wells that remain uncapped and leak methane into homes. Pennsylvania has acid mine drainage that costs millions of dollars every year to remediate. There are lessons contained within these examples from which we need to learn.
Last June, I introduced the Fracturing Responsibility and Awareness of Chemicals (FRAC) Act, because I believe if the development of the Marcellus Shale is carried out in a manner that protects the environment and human health, then it will enhance our State’s economy and increase our Nation’s energy security. The FRAC Act requires public disclosure of the chemicals used in the fracturing process and requires that hydraulic fracturing be regulated under the Safe Drinking Water Act. It is my hope that the FRAC act will keep the environment and the people of Pennsylvania safe, while fully developing the great opportunity that the Marcellus Shale has to offer.