Tue, 26 February 2008
We can create the movements we've always dreamed of-- by linking them together. Efforts to end social injustices including poverty and unemployment, linked with efforts to end global warming and pollution, will become stronger and more effective when combined. These are the visions of powerhouse activist Van Jones, who at the helm of the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights in Oakland, CA, is making those visions realities in cities nationwide.
Jones' work is focused on getting and keeping urban youth out of jail and into jobs in the "green" economy. Called "Green Collar Job Creation", and operating under Jones’ slogan "Green Jobs, Not Jails", the program was established in 2005, and is emerging as a powerful beacon of hope for both the underprivileged youth of America, and the future of the environment in which we all live, work, and play.
PennFuture’s Christine Knapp met with Jones before his appearance as the keynote speaker at the February 2008 Urban Sustainability Forum in Philadelphia, organized by the Sustainable Business Network of Greater Philadelphia. Philadelphia, America's Next Great City, is well on its way to becoming a frontrunner in the new green economy. Under the leadership of newly-elected Mayor Michael Nutter, who included many of the Next Great City coalition's key recommendations in his first budget address, Philadelphia is poised to implement many of Jones' recommendations as well, creating those linkages between the environment and the economy at every level. Mayor Nutter was on hand at the event to introduce Jones.
Listen in as we explore the inspiration for the program and learn important lessons for the implementation of similar green training programs in Pennsylvania. You can also watch the entire event (well worth your time!) by clicking here.
Support for green collar job creation will come in part from the Green Jobs Act of 2007, which authorizes $125 million per year to train individuals in the green trades. At the federal level, this is a small step towards the necessary economic support that green businesses require in order to survive. Citizen activism in bringing programs like Jones’ to the eyes and ears of state and local governments are the next steps in fostering the support for widespread green job growth. And this new green workforce will be implementing vital components of the solutions to global warming.
Today in Pennsylvania, the state's General Assembly is on the cusp of enacting legislation that itself will result in an explosion of good-paying, family-sustaining green jobs. Legislation like House Bill 2200 will require statewide programs to save energy, using new strategies like more efficient lighting or heating/cooling systems. The bill would also mean that every Pennsylvanian can save up to 20 percent a year on electric bills thanks to energy savings. Another bill, Special Energy Session House Bill 1, will jump start major investments in new, clean energy projects throughout Pennsylvania such as wind and solar energy developments and green buildings. Again, this legislation will result in thousands of new jobs. Coupled with job training and comprehensive outreach programs, Pennsylvania could soon lead the nation in green jobs, green technologies, and a growing economy.
Take action! There are a few simple steps you can take to make these visions reality in Pennsylvania. Watch the Van Jones presentation. Contact your state senator to support Pennsylvania legislation to grow green collar jobs and the new green economy through energy conservation and new clean energy development. And if you are a Philadelphian, contact city council to support the types of programs Van Jones is promoting nationwide. Make a contribution to PennFuture to help us continue our work. As always, we welcome your feedback. Leave a comment below to let others know about why the green jobs movement matters to you, or e-mail us at podcast (at) pennfuture (dot) org.
Fri, 15 February 2008
Powerful in its toxicity, and dangerous in its neurological health effects, mercury pollution has been a focus of PennFuture initiatives for several years. The mercury pollution that threatens health is largely emitted from coal-fired power plants, and is considered to be more toxic than lead. These emissions accumulate in plants and animals like fish, which can be passed along as we eat them. The dangers from mercury are particularly high for developing babies and children.
Pennsylvania’s mercury pollution is among the worst in the nation thanks to the large number of coal-fired power plants here and in upwind states like Ohio. So bad, in fact, that PennFuture spearheaded a campaign to establish a state rule to dramatically cut mercury pollution from our power plants. Finalized in early 2007, Pennsylvania’s mercury regulation is a testament to the power of citizen advocacy, as a broad coalition of anglers, hunters, people of faith, medical experts, environmental groups, women's organizations, organized labor, and many others spoke out against the dismal failure that was the federal Clean Air Mercury Rule, and in favor of swift and aggressive state action. Pennsylvania's mercury rule requires coal-fired power plants to cut their mercury pollution by 80 percent by 2010, and by 90 percent by 2015.
Pennsylvania won a critical battle for human health and our environment. In mid-February 2008, our state victory was magnified as a legal challenge brought by Pennsylvania and 16 other states asserting the federal mercury rule was in essence illegal under the federal Clean Air Act was won in federal court.
In this podcast, PennFuture's Christine Knapp talks with Senior Attorney and Chair of PennFuture's law staff Charles McPhedran, who authored PennFuture's initial petition for the state's mercury rule. He describes the significance of the recent legal decision at the federal level, and explains how Pennsylvania's rule has taken on even greater importance in its wake.
For more podcasts on PennFuture’s initiatives on mercury, visit our archive by clicking here. There you can listen in to state and national experts. To support PennFuture's work on this and other critical issues to our health, environment, and economy, please consider a making a tax-deductible donation. As always, we welcome your comments. Simply send us an e-mail, or click on "Comments" below.
Fri, 8 February 2008
This week’s podcast features speakers from just a few of the nearly 40 teach-ins and other events held recently as part of Focus the Nation. All these events were created to build awareness of global warming and other environmental emergencies, and to move all involved to action in finding solutions. These events featured students and other activists, scientific experts and elected officials.
PennFuture’s Joy Bergey participated in the event at Ursinus College, and brought us two terrific interviews. First, Andrew Revkin, award winning journalist who covers environment for the New York Times, talks about how global warming is felt in the underdeveloped world; then Dr. Heidi Cullen, climate expert for The Weather Channel, discusses some of the science behind climate change.
Pam Fendrock, PennFuture’s northeast Pennsylvania outreach coordinator, attended two Focus the Nation events. At the first, at Moravian College, she interviewed one of the student organizers, Samantha Lukasiewicz, who talked about how the organizing impacted on the lives of students. At Wilkes University, she interviewed Dr. Marleen Troy, associate professor of environmental engineering, who talked about green initiatives currently at Wilkes.
You can be part of the solution by joining PennFuture’s Cool Pennsylvania campaign. Visit our website, and attend our upcoming global warming workshops – Saturday. April 5 at LaRoche College just outside of Pittsburgh, or Saturday. May 17 at the University of Scranton.
Fri, 1 February 2008
Sometimes the best part of any presentation is the unscripted part – the question and answer session. Click to hear the pas de deux between Hanger and the committee members.
Fri, 1 February 2008
The fight for the 21st Century energy policy continues in Harrisburg.
This podcast features PennFuture's president and CEO, John Hanger, who testified before the House Consumer Affairs Committee on Thursday, January 31, 2008 about the need to give Pennsylvanians the tools they need to use energy smarter.
The hearings were called to consider two pieces of legislation. House Bill 2200, sponsored by Rep. Camille “Bud? George (D-Clearfield), builds on the leadership and ideas of Rep. Chris Ross (R-Chester) by creating energy conservation programs in the service territories of all electric distribution companies. HB 2201/SHB 20, sponsored by Rep. Keith McCall (D-Carbon), includes a requirement for smart meters.
These bills are critical to reducing energy demand in Pennsylvania, thereby saving citizens money and energy, eliminating the need to build at least 12 new 300-megawatt power plants and hundreds of miles of new transmission lines, and cutting air pollution and heat-trapping gases.
These bills are expected to be voted on by the Consumer Affairs Committee on Tuesday, February 5. Visit our website to learn more about the Energy Independence Strategy and how you can make a difference.