Tue, 30 May 2006
Former Vice President Al Gore has spent the past 30 years working diligently on the issue of global warming. Since the 2000 Presidential election, he's been traveling the world giving a riveting presentation on the need for action on global warming.
He's teamed up with Paramount Pictures for a new documentary called An Inconvenient Truth. The film is a startling exploration of the crisis we all face as a result of human-induced global warming.
The movie will be released in Philadelphia on June 2, Pittsburgh on June 16, and Harrisburg on June 30. To see other dates, cities, and theaters, check the movie site here. New locations and dates are added each day.
In this podcast, PennFuture's Jan Jarrett sits down for a serious talk with Al Gore about the film, what needs to happen in the political sphere to reverse the trend, and about the compelling need to act now.
PennFuture urges you to see this movie, and to invite your friends and family to do the same. To become involved with our Cool Pennsylvania campaign aimed at taking action here at home, e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Wed, 24 May 2006
Global warming is real, and more importantly, a reality we must quickly and collectively change. Though the Bush administration is failing to act, Americans everywhere aren't waiting around in the absence of federal government leadership.
In this podcast, PennFuture's Joy Bergey talks with Reverend Richard Cizik, the Vice President for Government Affairs at the National Association of Evangelicals. The Evangelical Christian community has become outspoken on the need for action on global warming, releasing their Evangelical Climate Initiative in early 2006.
Rev. Cizik recently was the keynote speaker at an event on global warming hosted by Messiah College in Grantham, Pennsylvania. There Joy caught up with Dr. Joe Sheldon, a professor of biology and environmental science, who has been teaching students about the need for action. Prof. Sheldon teamed up with students to compel the school to make a major purchase of renewable wind energy.
PennFuture's Andrea Boykowycz speaks with graduating senior Grace Diehl of Messiah College, who led students to make the wind energy purchase. They did so by devoting a percentage of their own tuition and fees to making it happen.
You too can purchase clean, renewable energy in Pennsylvania, and take one of the most important steps toward reducing your own contribution to global warming in doing so. Just visit www.cleanyourair.org to learn how. Send us your stories! Let us know what you are doing to curb global warming. E-mail us at email@example.com.
Sun, 21 May 2006
The Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee held on May 2nd a hearing on SB 1201 that would prohibit the Department of Environmental Protection from adopting a regulation to require power plants to reduce their toxic mercury pollution by 80 percent in 2010 and by 90 percent in 2015. Unfortunately, the line up of witnesses was heavily biased toward industry's position on mercury.
Testifying was Dr. Jack Snyder, a member of the board of the Annapolis Center for Science-Based Public Policy. The Center receives most of its funding from the National Manufacturers Association (NAM), and its founder was a former NAM vice president. Exxon/Mobile is also a major Annapolis Center funder. Dr. Snyder regularly provides testimony in various forums in support of industry positions. For example, he provided testimony in New Jersey in which he offered, "From a scientific and medical perspective, there is no basis for the contention that exposure to MTBE causes objectively verifiable human health effects."
And he was singing the same song about mercury pollution asserting that U.S. power plants contribute only a small amount of the world's mercury pollution, that there is no evidence of hotspots and that there's no proof that mercury harms babies. He apparently has missed several facts: most of the mercury contamination in Pennsylvania originates from Pennsylvania, not international sources; 83 percent of Pennsylvania's mercury pollution comes from Pennsylvania power plants. He also apparently dismisses decades of scientific studies that confirm the links between exposure to mercury and impaired neurological development in children.
The rest of the line up consisted of George Ellis of the Pennsylvania Coal Association, Eugene Trisko, hired gun for the United Mine Workers and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Gene Barr of the Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry, and finally, Myron Arnowitt of Clean Water Action.
The industry testifiers made blanket assertions not based in fact, and unfortunately, the committee members did not challenge them. For example, George Ellis claimed that there is no evidence that burning coal harms people, and nobody on the committee pointed out the mountains of information about the death and illness caused by breathing the fine soot and the ozone caused by power plant pollution.
The senators specifically asked for, and received uncritically, scientific information from the non-scientists representing industry at this hearing. On the other hand, they vigorously challenged Myron Arnowitt's review of scientific studies that show that local mercury pollution results in local contamination, and that reductions in local emissions lead directly to reductions in mercury contamination in the environment.
The committee will hold another hearing on mercury. We hope next time, they will ask to hear from some of the many medical experts and researchers who have conducted studies on the health and environmental harms that mercury pollution causes who do not dismiss the dangers to women and babies.
Category:Mercury -- posted at: 2:24 PM
Wed, 10 May 2006
Philadelphians have been coming together to explore strategies for making the city sustainable in a series of Urban Sustainability Forums. "Greene Country Towne: The Future of Philadelphia Land Use Planning" featured Keynote Speaker Joanne Denworth, a land use and environmental lawyer, who has been working in Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell's Office of Policy since March, 2003. She works with state agencies on policy issues relating to land use, including community and economic development, environmental protection, parks and conservation, transportation, water and sewer infrastructure, agriculture, historic preservation, and recreation. The focus of this forum was to talk about creating a new visionary land-use plan for
In this podcast, PennFuture's Christine Knapp chats with presenters Alma Plummer, the Vice President of the Philadelphia Industrial Development Corporation and Karen Black, Principal with May 8 Consulting, Inc. The forum also featured Tom Chapman, Acting Secretary, Strategic Planning and Executive Director, Philadelphia City Planning Commission.
Mon, 1 May 2006
The Mon-Fayette Toll Road is the second most expensive road project in the nation, behind only the infamous Boston Big Dig. The project, that would connect Morgantown, WV and Pittsburgh, PA with a four-lane tolled highway has been in the works since the 1950s. Nothing has changed about the vision for the project, despite all the many changes we've seen in this region in the past 50 years. One final piece of the project is in the works, the leg that would link PA Route 51 to Pittsburgh and also to Monroeville, PA at I-376. That piece alone is currently estimated to cost $2 billion, before debt service-- which doubles the cost. And the word on the street is that the cost for construction is probably going to double very soon, when the latest update is released.
PennFuture has been fighting the Turnpike Expansion for years. Together with citizens and other organizations throughout the region, we argue that what is desperately needed is investment in existing infrastructure, or a Fix-it-First policy. With the litany of serious bridge and existing road maintenance and upgrade needs, and a crisis in public transportation funding, forging ahead with the Toll Road boondoggle is beyond short-sighted.
In this podcast, PennFuture's Heather Sage visits Braddock, one of the places that lies in the path of the planned Toll Road. Braddock was once a thriving riverfront city, home to the nation's first Carnegie Library and also home to one of Pennsylvania's few remaining steel mills. She talks with Braddock's new mayor, John Fetterman (36), who won the election in 2005 by just one vote, and credits his victory to an intense grassroots effort that engaged Braddock's youngest voters, many of whom had never voted before. He tapped into the concerns about the Toll Road with constituents, and is leading the charge to stop the road before it is too late. The path the Toll Road would take will slice Braddock in two, isolating its residential area and access to the Monogahela River from its recovering business district. They are joined in the discussion by Jeb Feldman, a San Francisco native and current Carnegie Mellon graduate student and Andrea Boykowycz, who hails from the Pittsburgh neighborhood of Oakland, home to Pittsburgh's thriving universities and hopsitals, also in the path of the Toll Road.
It is critical for people to know that the funding to complete the road does not exist. However, the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission does have money to begin acquiring properties in the path of the road. Those properties will be taken off the tax rolls, closing businesses and forcing people out of their homes, and reducing revenues to the already financially-strapped cities in the Mon Valley, including Pittsburgh. We are advocating for a halt to any property acquisition, and a halt to any funding for construction of the Toll Road. Elected officials need to hear from all of us to make this happen!
To stay informed about this issue, and to learn how you can get involved, visit our Toll Road information center and sign up for our list serve on the issue by sending us an e-mail expressing your interest.