Friday, June 2, 2017

Despite Trump, Pa and Philly to maintain climate efforts

Solar panels are among Philadelphia's ways of cutting carbon emissions to meet the goals of the Paris
climate accord, despite President Trump's withdrawal from the pact..
Jon Hurdle reports for StateImpact:
President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw from the landmark Paris climate accord isn’t likely to derail Pennsylvania’s efforts to curb methane emissions, and it strengthens Philadelphia’s determination to set its own climate policy, officials said.
Trump’s rejection on Thursday of the historic agreement to stop global temperatures rising more than an average of 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels prompted howls of protest from other signatory nations but is expected to result in business as usual in Pennsylvania.
State officials said the administration of Gov. Tom Wolf, a Democrat, would press on with its efforts to cut escapes of methane – a potent greenhouse gas – from natural gas wells and pipelines.  Philadelphia officials were expected to continue their drive to reduce carbon emissions and prepare for the higher temperatures and bigger storms that are forecast to come with climate change.
“Climate change is a global issue that needs cooperation at all levels, from international agreements down to local efforts to conserve energy and reduce greenhouse gases,” said Neil Shader, a spokesman for the Department of Environmental Protection, which implements climate policy. “While withdrawal from the Paris agreement will not directly impact specific DEP policies, climate change is still an issue that is already affecting Pennsylvania.”
In Philadelphia, Democratic Mayor Jim Kenney issued a statement saying that the city would continue its efforts to cut carbon emissions to match the requirements of the international pact.
“President Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris climate agreement goes against the interests of Philadelphians,” Kenney said. “My administration is now committed to upholding at the local level the very same commitment made by the United States in the Paris climate agreement — to reduce carbon emissions between 26 and 28 percent by 2025.  This will ensure that we’re well on our way to meeting Philadelphia’s current long-term goal of reducing the city’s emissions 80 percent by 2050.”
Kenney said Philadelphia would be one of about 60 U.S. cities working to meet the standards set by the Paris agreement.
In a statement at the White House, Trump said the United States would immediately withdraw from the Paris accord but would try to renegotiate what he said was a better deal. He said other countries such as China and India would be allowed to exploit coal reserves under the Paris accord while the United States would be prevented from doing so.
“The bottom line is that the Paris accord is very unfair at the highest levels to the United States,” Trump said.
He said some of he other 194 countries that have signed the agreement would be able to gain financially, at the expense of the United States.
“This agreement is less about the climate and more about other countries getting a financial advantage over the United States,” he said.
“We are getting out but we will start a negotiation and we will see if we can make a deal that’s fair,” he said.
In Harrisburg, the Wolf administration’s climate efforts previously focused on a plan to cut power plant emissions, as required by the Clean Power Plan, an Obama-era rule.
But compliance efforts halted after the U.S. Supreme Court halted implementation of the plan in February 2016, and Trump issued an executive order to review the rule in March this year. As a result, Pennsylvania’s climate policy is now focused on reducing methane leaks from natural gas operations.
That’s being opposed by some state lawmakers who want to ensure that Pennsylvania’s restrictions on methane leaks are no stricter than those required by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Any tougher limits would reduce state competitiveness and cost jobs, according to supporters of SB 175, a bill that aims to lessen the impact of the methane rule.
Rep. Greg Vitali, a Delaware County Democrat, said many lawmakers in the Republican majority of both state houses already oppose the methane restrictions proposed by the Wolf administration, and so Trump’s decision to abandon the Paris agreement is unlikely to make a lot of difference.
“The resistance is there already,” Vitali said. “It’s difficult to get positive things done on climate.”
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