Fri, 28 July 2006
Energy security and environmental impacts of energy production and usage are growing concerns of many Americans. Alternatives to oil and other petroleum-based fuels are gaining rapidly in popularity as a result.
D.J. first met up with Nathaniel while he was helping a group of boaters prepare their fleet that runs entirely on biodiesel, for a long ride down the Ohio River to Cairo, Indiana. In that first meeting, they enjoyed a canoe ride along the Allegheny River where Nathaniel explained that he was first introduced to biodiesel three years ago while studying at Cornell University. He was working for a group based in Ithaca, New York, called Liquid Solar that converts diesel vehicles to use straight vegetable oil. Nathaniel then formed the Cornell Biodiesel Initiative. After graduation, he came back home to Pittsburgh where he created Steel City Biofuels in 2005 with Greg Boulos.
Steel City Biofuels conducts scores of biodiesel demonstrations, and in only a year, they've reached over 1000 people, including groups of students, politicians, fleet managers, and non-profits in the Pittsburgh region. Their programs are a little like a cooking demonstration. Nathaniel and Greg literally create biodiesel for their audiences. Always prepared for the skeptics in the audience, the duo come armed with an arsenal of research and testimonials from biodiesel users. The past year has been nothing short of thrilling for the biodiesel promoter, plainly obvious in Nathaniel's enormous smile after a presentation wraps up.
Learn in this podcast about the basics of biodiesel, how you can get involved in using it, and where this and other biofuels are going in Pennsylvania.
For more information on biodiesel, keep listening. Voices of Pennsylvania's Future has upcoming podcasts planned that expand on this topic, including discussions with biodiesel producers, biodiesel users, and an in-depth look at Pennsylvania's biofuel initiatives from a government agency perspective.
You can also learn more about the future of biofuels in Pennsylvania in our report released in June 2006. Governor Rendell's PennSecurity Fuels Initiative will create nearly 26,000 new jobs and $1.5 billion annually for Pennsylvania's economy, and reduce our imports by almost $7 billion.
Mon, 24 July 2006
Earlier this summer, over one hundred citizen activists from throughout Pennsylvania traveled to the State Capitol in Harrisburg for a Joint Lobby Day for Health and the Environment. Members from PennFuture, the Pennsylvania Council of Churches, Sierra Club, Pennsylvania Federation of Sportsmen's Clubs, Penn Environment, Physicians for Social Responsibility, Clean Water Action, Group Against Smog and Pollution, and many other organizations came together to speak to our elected officials about two pressing issues of concern to Pennsylvanians: a state rule to limit mercury pollution from power plants, and implementing the Pennsylvania Clean Vehicles Program.
Each day, the halls of the Capitol teem with well-paid lobbyists. While it is difficult for citizens to travel to Harrisburg regularly, events like this help raise the visibility and awareness of critical issues like toxic mercury pollution. Together with calls, e-mails, letters, visits back in the district, letters to the editor, rallies, and press events, we are able to effect meaningful and positive change on issues that affect our communities, health, economy, and the environment.
In this podcast, PennFuture's DJ Trischler reports from Harrisburg at the Lobby Day event. DJ speaks with Representative Dan Surra (D-75) from Elk and Clearfield counties, and Representative David Steil (R-31) from Bucks County. Both legislators have strongly opposed bills that were introduced in the House and Senate aimed at killing the efforts to implement a state regulation that will cut mercury pollution from our coal-fired power plants by 90 percent. It is somewhat disheartening to note that we attempted to get interviews with almost all of the legislators who are actively opposing the Pennsylvania State Mercury Rule, but none would agree to make a statement.
DJ also talks with Megan Hamm and Jared Andrews from Clean Water Action, about why they've gotten involved in the legislative process and in citizen activism. DJ wraps things up by talking with Jan Jarrett, PennFuture's Vice President, who emphasizes how critical it is for citizens, especially young people, to get involved in the political process as soon as possible, to make democracy work for all of us.
At the Lobby Day event, PennFuture released the results of a statewide poll conducted by Terry Madonna Opinion Research, that showed 80 percent of Pennsylvanians want a strong state mercury rule as soon as possible. View the poll summary here.
This week, Pennsylvania's Environmental Quality Board is holding three public hearings to get your input on the proposed state mercury rule. The comment period remains open until August 26, 2006. To take action, visit our web site or www.protectbabies.org. We need a huge outpouring of citizen action to support this critical rule, and to overcome the high-paid representatives of the utility industry who are working against it. For more information, e-mail us at pennfuture (at) podcast (dot) com.
Mon, 17 July 2006
Reversing global warming sounds like a daunting challenge. And make no mistake, it is. But the solutions are many, and done together, will have a profound impact. People want to know: what can I do?
First, switch your electricity to a clean, renewable electricity provider. Learn how at www.cleanyourair.org.
In this podcast, PennFuture's Joy Bergey explores other steps individuals can take. They range from the simple-- changing the type of light bulbs you use-- to the comprehensive-- totally remodeling your home.
Joy speaks first with Ann Jones Gerace, Executive Director of the non-profit Conservation Consultants, Inc. based in Pittsburgh. Ann describes easy ways to save money for yourself, with the added benefits of reducing your personal contributions to global warming. Joy talks with Sr. Mary Cabrini Procopio of the Felician Sisters of Pennsylvania, where they've renovated their Provincial House and the Our Lady of the Sacred Heart school using green building techniques. The results have been significant cost savings but also improved health. Finally, we hear from Dr. Robert McKinstry, from Penn State University, about climate change myths, as they relate to the economy.
We'd love you to get involved in our Cool Pennsylvania Campaign, aimed at finding solutions to Pennsylvania's contribution to the problem. To join an online e-mail discussion list, or for more information, send us an e-mail at podcastATpennfuture.org.