Fri, 27 April 2007
This week, leaders of the environmental and conservation communities came together with leaders in the faith and women's communities to defend the honor of two outstanding public servants.
Governor Rendell's cabinet officers needed to be confirmed by the Senate on or before April 25. But in a classic political late hit, a Harrisburg tale of "Gotcha!" unfolded. Governor Rendell agreed to withdraw and immediately resubmit his environmental secretaries' nominations, giving more time for their approval to be granted.
What went down? Information was spoon fed to an opinion columnist who published allegations– without attribution– the weekend before the scheduled confirmation votes. The Pennsylvania Environmental Council provided that columnist all of the relevant exculpatory information regarding Secretary McGinty, but those facts were excluded from the column. What senator would want to be treated in this manner?
The easily refuted and disproved allegations against Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Kathleen McGinty and Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Secretary Michael DiBerardinis were never aired during their respective confirmation hearings before the Senate. The secretaries were never provided a proper public forum to defend themselves against the innuendo.
Who should be flagged for the late hit? As the facts are now catching up to the smear, Harrisburg insiders are trying to finger the identity of its mastermind. Was it a political enemy of Secretary McGinty? Was it a polluter or other sore loser in the political Rolodex unhappy about the strong state mercury rule that protects Pennsylvania’s babies, or the Clean Vehicles Program that protects our health while saving us fuel and money?
Listen in to the April 26 press conference we held in the Capitol Rotunda. It includes representatives from PennFuture, Pennsylvania Environmental Council, Sierra Club's Pennsylvania Chapter, the Pennsylvania Interfaith Climate Change Campaign, Clean Air Council, and the Pennsylvania Land Trust Association. Later in the afternoon, additional organizations added their voices to the call for an end to this inexcusable smear campaign, including the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society, Clean Water Action, Pennsylvania Council of Churches, and Pennsylvania NOW.
Organizations large and small across the state, together with citizens in every corner of the Commonwealth, are calling on the Senate to confirm these impressive environmental cabinet officers as soon as possible, and put an end to this shameful smear. You can do your part by taking action here.
Tue, 10 April 2007
On April 2, 2007, the United States Supreme Court issued one of the most important decisions on environmental matters in U.S. history. In a 5 to 4 decision, the court ruled that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) violated the Clean Air Act when it refused to regulate emissions standards for new cars and trucks to control for pollution that contributes to global warming. This means that the EPA can and should treat carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases as pollutants, and regulate them accordingly.
In this podcast, PennFuture's Joy Bergey speaks with Professor Robert McKinstry, Maurice K. Goddard Chair in Forestry and Environmental Resources Conservation at Penn State University about his involvement in the historic case, and the implications of the decision. McKinstry represented climate scientists in the case, writing an amicus brief in favor of the petitioners.
McKinstry believes that the decision indicates a clear need for the U.S. to regulate greenhouse gases, and that this should take the form of federal legislation and policy. Swift action is required, and considerations must be made on how federal policy and mandates will work with existing state regulations and policies, as well as within the international community. But he feels that the United States should once again take a leadership role on environmental issues in the international sphere, something we have not been doing in the recent past.
McKinstry recounts some of the history of U.S. policy on heat-trapping gases, and how our policy (or lack thereof) shifted dramatically within the first year of the current Bush administration. Prior to 2001, and even within the first Bush administration, there was recognition within EPA that authority existed under the Clean Air Act to treat carbon dioxide, for example, as pollution, but that the resistance to doing so came primarily from Congress.
McKinstry explains in this podcast the grounds upon which the EPA asserted in this case that they did not have the authority to regulate greenhouse gases from tailpipes. He then describes the court's decision, implications, and next steps, including information about pending state lawsuits related to this case.
In terms of the "debate" on global warming, McKinstry asserts that we should not be asking how certain we are that "bad things" will happen, but how certain we are that they will not. In other words, we cannot afford to do nothing.
To learn more about PennFuture's Cool Pennsylvania Campaign to stop global warming here at home, visit our campaign pages. Nearly 200 diverse businesses, groups, and organizations across the Commonwealth have signed on in support of the effort to date. You can receive our weekly global warming news digest and let Governor Rendell and state legislators know that you support strong state action on global warming. Support our work with a tax-deductible donation. We welcome your comments or questions; just click on "Comments" below, or e-mail us at podcast (at) pennfuture (dot) org.
Thu, 5 April 2007
You know how a light bulb shows up above the cartoon character's head whenever s/he has a good idea? Well, compact fluorescent light bulbs themselves are a bright idea for anyone concerned with saving money, using less energy, and cutting the amount of heat-trapping gases that are contributing to global warming. Believe it or not, changing light bulbs can make an enormous difference in all of that.
Many solutions to environmental and economic problems feel a bit daunting. In this podcast, PennFuture's D.J. Trischler speaks with Jeff Deyette from the Union of Concerned Scientists about the pros (and cons) of compact florescent lamps, or CFLs. While the bulbs today do cost slightly more to purchase, they actually save you money (up to $30 dollars over the life of the bulb) and they're helping us slow down global warming. That's quite a bargain!
Jeff shares other important tips on how to save energy, how to dispose of CFLs, and how to do your part to become part of the solution. For more information on CFLs, click here.
To learn how you can become part of PennFuture's Cool Pennsylvania Campaign to stop global warming here at home, visit our site. We'd love your feedback; just click on "Comments" below, or e-mail us at podcast (at) pennfuture (dot) org.