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    Hundreds rally for action amid legislative attacks on Pennsylvania’s climate programs

    submitted by Olivia Ross Perfetti, PennEnvironment

    In recent weeks, huge swaths of Pennsylvania have wilted under unseasonable heat as temperatures near 100 degrees Fahrenheit forced schools to dismiss students early.

    With that dangerous effect of climate change fresh in mind, hundreds of Pennsylvanians attended virtual lobby meetings with their elected officials recntly and urged them to pass bills to reduce climate pollution, despite some state lawmakers’ efforts to thwart environmental progress.

    “Pennsylvanians are sick and tired of legislative leaders in Harrisburg standing in the way of policy solutions meant to address global warming,” said Flora Cardoni, PennEnvironment’s field director. “The public’s support for tackling climate change and the emissions that cause it is far outpacing our elected officials’ willingness to do something about it. That’s why so many concerned Pennsylvanians joined with us today to demand that our representatives implement policies needed to protect our children and future generations.” 

    Three hundred fifty Pennsylvanians took part in 60 meetings with their respective state senators and representatives as part of the PennEnvironment annual citizen climate lobby day. They called on legislators to overcome obstacles to climate action and advocated for bipartisan clean energy policies such as Pennsylvania’s participation in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), energy efficiency standards for commonly used appliances, and renewing the state’s Alternative Energy Portfolio Standard.

    The online citizen lobbyists also expressed support for moving the state off of fossil fuels, so that in the not-too-distant future, Pennsylvania can generate 100% of its power from renewable energy sources.

    The event took place as several anti-environmental proposals make their way through the state’s legislative process.

    They include: eliminating the Department of Environmental Protection’s authority to regulate carbon; keeping Pennsylvania from joining RGGI; stripping local communities of their ability to implement clean energy alternatives to dirty fossil fuels; and promoting legislation to open state parks and forests and the Delaware River basin for fracking. 

    The centerpiece of the day was a virtual rally featuring state Sen. Amanda M. Cappelletti and state Sen. Katie Muth, who are sponsoring legislation in the state House and state Senate, respectively, to require Pennsylvania to generate 100% of its energy from renewable sources by 2050; state Rep. Danielle Friel Otten, who chairs the Pennsylvania House Climate Caucus; and Dr. Adrián Rivera-Reyes, co-founder of PhillyBoricuas.

    Hundreds attended the rally virtually, donning climate action t-shirts and holding up signs. 

    “We need immediate action on the climate crisis to mitigate the worst effects of global warming from harming our health, our homes and our environment. Go100PA puts Pennsylvania on track to tackle these big issues in a big way,” said Sen. Cappelletti, lead sponsor of the 100% renewable energy bill in Harrisburg. “We need bold thinkers at the table who will guide us in a just transition, while being inclusive of those who will be affected by switching to renewable energy sources – those who have historically been adversely affected by global warming and so much more. I am thrilled to have PennEnvironment’s unwavering support on this bill and encourage everyone to reach out to their representatives to voice their own support of Go100PA.”

    “We must continue to organize our communities and fight for climate legislation because our lives depend on it,” said Dr. Rivera-Reyes. “While we might grieve what was or used to be, there is a future ahead of us, and we must ensure it is better for those that come after us. I am hopeful because of climate activists and organizers who are pushing for common sense climate legislation and who continue to build a movement to resist corporate interests and fight against powerful interests. PhillyBoricuas stands with you in that fight, to protect our communities…”

    During breaks between the meetings with their legislators throughout the day, attendees participated in virtual events such as activism trainings, a climate simulation game with Richard Johnson from the Academy of Natural Sciences and a webinar about zero-carbon transportation with Environment America’s Morgan Folger

    “Today’s participants showed that they expect our elected officials to be climate leaders,” Cardoni said. “Pennsylvania’s legislators should focus on passing the slew of bipartisan bills awaiting action in the General Assembly that would help reduce climate pollution, including proposals to promote more energy-efficient appliances and increase solar energy production. There’s no time like the present”

    PennEnvironment is a statewide non-profit environmental advocacy group dedicated to protecting our water, air and open spaces. They investigate problems, craft solutions, educate the public and decision-makers, and help the public make their voices heard in local, state and national debates over the quality of our environment and our lives.

    To learn more about this or PennEnvironment’s other priorities, visit www.PennEnvironment.org.

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