Coat of arms of Pennsylvania

Petition to Keystone State Seeks Carbon Pricing as Climate Change Solution

The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is officially considering a petition filed yesterday (November 27, 2017) by the Clean Air Council and many other people and organizations to implement an economy-wide auction-cap-and-trade program for Pennsylvania, with measures to prevent leakage and auction most allowances with a reserve price. The program will create substantial revenue for the Commonwealth while substantially reducing greenhouse gas emissions. A summary of the petition is set forth below in the cover email submitted to the Commonwealth today. The petition itself and the regulation it proposes are attached. Also, a program is being held today (Nov. 28, 2018) at the Philadelphia Bar Association in Philadelphia from noon to 2:15 to discuss carbon pricing in general and the petition specifically, with the authors of the petition and other lawyers and academics presenting. For all the information and to register to attend in person or by live webcast: click here

Draft EQB Regulation 

PA Auction Cap and Trade Petition

Rulemaking Petition to Establish an Economy-Wide Auction-Cap-and-Trade Program for Pennsylvania

Dear Secretary McDonnell, Ms. Edinger, and Honorable Members of the Board,

On behalf of ourselves and the other petitioners identified on Exhibit A to the attached Petition, we hereby submit for the consideration of the Environmental Quality Board the attached Petition Pursuant to 25 Pa. Code §§ 23.1-23.5, Article I, §27 of the Pennsylvania Constitution, and the Pennsylvania Air Pollution Control Act to Adopt the Attached Regulation Establishing a Comprehensive Program to Limit Greenhouse Gas Emissions Though an Auction-Cap-and-Trade Program to Conserve and Maintain a Stable Climate and Other Public Resources for Which the Commonwealth is a Trustee (“Petition”).  We also attach a courtesy Word version of the proposed regulation for the Department’s use.  The Petition and the proposed regulation attached as Exhibit B to the Petition conform to the requirements of 25 Pa. Code §§ 23.1-23.5.

In light of the ongoing and severe damage to the public natural resources caused by unconstrained emissions of greenhouse gas pollutants, we urge the Board to act swiftly on this Petition and to adopt the attached regulation as quickly as feasible consistent with the requirements of law and appropriate public participation.  The recent report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and the U.S. Global Change Research Program’s Fourth National Climate Assessment, Volume II: Impacts, Risks, and Adaptation in the United States underscore the need for haste to address the looming emergency posed by climate disruption.  The proposed regulation and the analysis of facts, law, impacts, costs and benefits contained in the Petition contain all that is necessary to proceed to the publication of a proposed rule in the Pennsylvania Bulletin.  The Administration could, therefore, move more quickly than the timelines set forth in 25 Pa. Code §§ 23.1-23.5, and should do so in light of the looming climate emergency.

The Commonwealth’s duty as a trustee under Article I, § 27 of the Constitution requires that the Board proceed with all due haste to limit the damage to the Commonwealth’s public natural resources and the health of current and future generations caused by unchecked greenhouse gas pollution.  The proposed regulation would create a measured and foreseeable path for the Commonwealth and its industry to do what is necessary to avoid the worst consequences of climate disruption. It would provide a solution to the problem of financially stressed nuclear electric generating facilities and provide an incentive for investment in the types of projects that will be key to keeping Pennsylvania’s economy strong as we transition to an economy that does not emit greenhouse gas pollution. The proposed regulation will also have significant co-benefits.  It will allow the Commonwealth to address its severe and structural budget deficit without the continued depletion of the environmental capital that the Supreme Court held unconstitutional in PEDF v. Commonwealth.  If used wisely, some of the income could be used to provide seed capital for the infrastructure projects that will be necessary to adapt to the effects of climate disruption.

There are other organizations that wish to become petitioners but have not yet been able to complete the procedures necessary to allow them to do so.  Therefore, as suggested by Exhibit A, we intend to supplement this submission by adding additional petitioners before the next Board meeting.

We look forward to presenting our proposal to the Board.

Thank you for your consideration.

Respectfully submitted:

Robert B. McKinstry, Jr.
Joseph Minott, Clean Air Council
Robert Routh, Clean Air Council
John C. Dernbach, Widener Commonwealth Law School Environmental Law and Sustainability Center
Baird Brown, eco(n)law LLC

Hats Off to These House Republicans for Critical Support on Climate Change Action

These courageous and principled Republican members of the U.S. House of Representatives recently signed onto a resolution (the “Gibson Resolution”) that Congress should address the problem of climate change.

Rep. Chris Gibson (Hudson Valley and the Catskills regions)

Rep. Ryan Costello (suburban Philadelphia)

Rep. Carlos Curbello (south of Miami)

Rep. Bob Dold (suburban Chicago)

Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick (suburban Philadelphia)

Rep. Richard Hanna (Central New York)

Rep. Patrick Meehan (suburban Philadelphia)

Rep. David Reichert (rural Washington)

Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (Miami-Dade County)

Rep. Elise Stefanik (Adirondack Mountains and the Thousand Islands region)

Rep. Frank LoBiondo (South Jersey)

The Gibson Resolution states as follows:

Resolved, That the House of Representatives commits to working constructively, using our tradition of American ingenuity, innovation, and exceptionalism, to create and support economically viable, and broadly supported private and public solutions to study and address the causes and effects of measured changes to our global and regional climates, including mitigation efforts and efforts to balance human activities that have been found to have an impact.

The full text of the Gibson Resolution can be found here:

At a time when partisan politics seems to prevent progress on any of a number of important problems, it is refreshing to see that some of our elected officials can rise above the fray and put their constituents and their country first.

Please show your support and appreciation by calling any one or all of their offices to thank them for taking a stand on the very real and urgent problem of climate change. If you know one of their constituents, ask that person to call and thank them too.

It’s easy to call any one or all of them by using this link.

They all deserve our thanks! We support a non-partisan solution to climate change.

Climate Change and National Security Speech At Temple Law School on October 14

Rear Admiral David W. Titley, United States Navy (Retired) will be the featured speaker at a program entitled “Climate Change and National Security: People, Not Polar Bears” on October 14, 2015, beginning at noon, at Temple University Beasley School of Law in Philadelphia, PA.

The program is free and open to the public, but registration is strongly suggested by sending an email to info@calltothebar.org or calling 215-392-6781.

No one need starve; complimentary lunch will be provided.

 

Dr. Titley is a nationally known expert in the field of climate, the Arctic, and National Security.  He served as a naval officer for 32 years and rose to the rank of Rear Admiral. Dr. Titley’s career included duties as Oceanographer and Navigator of the Navy. While serving in the Pentagon, Dr. Titley initiated and led the US Navy’s Task Force on Climate Change. After retiring from the Navy, Dr. Titley served as the Chief Operating Officer at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Dr. Titley currently serves as Professor of Practice in the Department of Meteorology at the Pennsylvania State University. He is also the founding Director of Penn State’s Center for Solutions to Weather and Climate Risk.

In addition to Dr. Titley, Prof. Amy Sinden of Temple University Beasley School of Law will offer remarks about the Clean Power Plan and the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference to be held in Paris, France, from November 30 to December 11, 2015.

The program is sponsored by Temple University Beasley School of Law, with the following co-sponsors:

  • The Philadelphia Bar Association
  • Pennsylvania Businesses for a Health Environment
  • The Pennsylvania Environment Council
  • The Temple Environmental Law Center
  • Penn Future
  • Penn Environment
  • The Clean Air Council
  • A Call to the Bar: Lawyers for Common Sense on Climate Change

TItley Poster

Information about direction and parking can be found here: http://www.law.temple.edu/resources/directions/

Get the “Love the Pope” Tee Shirt

Pope Francis comes to the United States next week with a message of love, hope, and concern for all people and the planet.

He will arrive in Washington, DC, on Tuesday, September 22. On Wednesday, September 23, he will meet with President Obama at the White House. On Thursday, September 24, he will address a joint session of Congress. That night he will travel to New York City, where he will address the UN General Assembly on Friday, September 25. On Saturday, September 26, he will come to Philadelphia for the World Meeting of Families. While here, he will give a speech at Independence Hall, visit a prison, say mass on Ben Franklin Parkway, and then fly back to Rome that same night.

And you thought you had a busy schedule.

Throughout his U.S. visit, Pope Francis is expected to emphasize concern for the poor and disadvantaged, the need for moral and spiritual growth, and the crucially important issue of environmental degradation of the planet, including the need to fight climate change.

As people of conscience committed to fighting climate change, we come from diverse religious traditions or no religious tradition at all.  But when it comes to climate change, we love the Pope because of the strength and clarity of his message. He reminds us that this is a moral issue.

To commemorate the visit of Pope Francis, we have commissioned a limited run of tee shirts with the “Love the Pope” logo on the front and the words “Lawyers for Common Sense on Climate Change” on the back for the first 100 people who make a minimum donation of $20 to A Call to the Bar through the donate button on our web site. Also, send us an email at info@calltothebar.org with the size of the tee shirt (youth large, and adult M, L XL, and XXL). We will ship as soon as possible so hopefully they will arrive in the mail before the Pope gets to Philadelphia.

Final Pope Logo

A Call to the Bar is a Pennsylvania non-profit corporation, and all funds are used to further our mission. We are not a tax exempt organization under IRS Code section 501(c)(3). We decided not to seek tax exempt status because that would place legal limits on our lobbying efforts, and we will accept no limits on our efforts to convince elected officials of the need for immediate government action on climate change.

Courts Should Uphold the Clean Power Plan

On the first Monday in this sweltering month of August 2015, which is on track to surpass 2014 as the hottest year on record, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a groundbreaking new set of safeguards designed to fight climate change and protect public health. The new standards, known as the Clean Power Plan, set limits on carbon pollution from power plants. It’s the first effort by the United States to tackle one of its, and the world’s, biggest problems. As we approach the international meeting on climate change in Paris this coming December, the Plan provides the nation with credible moral high ground as we urge other big nations with carbon pollution issues, like China and India, to take their own substantial steps toward reducing pollution.

The Clean Power Plan is a huge step in the right direction. By providing every state with the opportunity to develop individualized plans to reduce carbon pollution, the Plan calls on every state to act on climate change. The limits are ambitious but achievable: the Plan calls for a 32 percent reduction of carbon pollution from by 2030 from power plants, which make up the largest single source of carbon pollution in the country.

The Clean Power Plan is long overdue. The scientific community has long and repeatedly warned that carbon pollution and climate change are causing the planet to warm. The thought that we may face runaway climate change in our lifetimes, or those of our children, horrifies many. Common sense safeguards to protect us from harm makes sense. And we don’t have to choose between a healthy environment and a healthy economy. Our economy can thrive as new technologies are developed and implemented to meet our energy needs.

Some people don’t see it this way. They oppose the Clean Power Plan and any effort to fight climate change because they believe that polluter profits are more important than the economic and health benefits of cleaner air and cleaner energy.

That is why 15 state attorneys general, led by the attorney general of West Virginia, have asked a federal appeals court in Washington, D.C. to put the Clean Power Plan on hold while they bring a lawsuit to block it entirely. In support of their position, the attorneys general argue that their states will suffer “irreparable harm” if the court does not put the plan on hold.

The harm they claim is that their states will expend resources planning how to reduce carbon pollution from power plants. What about the harm to the rest of us from climate change, such as flooding, droughts, and extreme weather events? This is already occurring, and the impacts of climate change will only grow more severe if we fail to act. This isn’t a close call. The harm to society far outweighs any harm to these states. The court should reject the request to put the Plan on hold.

The court should also reject the argument that the EPA exceeded its authority under the Clean Air Act. Twice since 2005 the Supreme Court has held that the EPA has the authority and the obligation to regulate carbon pollution under the Clean Air Act. Justice Kennedy, the swing vote in many important cases, has been in the majority in both of the decisions. The legality of the Clean Power Plan will surely end up in the Supreme Court. Given the important societal interest in fighting climate change, the Supreme Court’s prior precedent, and the judicial deference owed to the EPA as the agency charged with administering the Act, the Plan stands a good chance of surviving judicial scrutiny.

The coal industry and its supporters have declared war on the Clean Power Plan, because it threatens their investment, and they care about profits. They don’t care about our children.

For the sake of our children, we need to tackle climate change. The Clean Power Plan is an important step in the right direction that deserves the support of all citizens. It should be upheld by the courts.

Philadelphia Eagles Lead All Leagues in Sustainability

Several of our volunteers and supporters recently toured Lincoln Financial Field, the home of the Eagles, and learned why the Birds are #1 in sustainability.

As explained to us by tour guide Norman Vossschulte, who serves as Director of Fan Experience, the Eagles are the greenest team in all of American sports. Check out these facts:

  • 100% of the Eagles’ operations are powered by the sun and wind. A total of more than 11,000 solar panels on the roof, over some of the parking spots, and on the front of the building provide 30% of the energy. The rest comes from the purchase of renewable energy credits.
  • Through continuous efforts in recycling and composting, the Eagles have sent no waste to landfills in over two years.
  • A team of 80 people work on game days sorting every bag of trash. With the audio piped into the sorting room, the sorters cheer for their team as they work.
  • The Eagles use no chemicals to clean the stadium, but rely entirely on a water and electrolyte solution that is generated on site and recycled.
  • The Eagles offer beer in aluminum cans with no plastic cups offered, and they recycle the cans, crush them, and sell the aluminum in bulk.

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The Eagles are on the cutting edge of sustainability for American sports teams. As owner Jeffrey Lurie told the New York Times in 2010, “[w]e’ve read a lot that excellent environmental practices are too expensive or not wise for a company. We challenged that.” Major credit goes to Mr. Lurie and his co-owner, Christina Weiss Lurie.

We thank the Eagles for the awesome tour. In addition to all the green stuff, the tour of lockers rooms was pretty cool. Special thanks to Pennsylvania Businesses for a Healthy Climate, which organized the tour.

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Climate Change: It’s Up to You New York, New York

The juggernaut that is A Call to the Bar: Lawyers for Common Sense on Climate Change hit the Big Apple in a big way on May 14, 2015, as volunteers Yolanda Pagano and Steve Harvey met with the Environmental Committee of the New York City Bar Association to discuss why lawyers should take a leadership role on climate change.

We were too late. Lawyers in New York are already leading the way. In 2009, the NYC Bar Association endorsed a Statement of Principles calling for strong government action on climate change, including carbon pricing, without which we will never control our future.

Yolanda Pagano

Yolanda Pagano

And in September 2014, right after the huge climate rally in New York, the NYC Bar Association hosted a program that featured New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, who made some of the strongest statements heard yet about lawyers taking a stance on climate change.

  • “while the evidence and the technical solutions for dealing with climate change may come to us from scientists and engineers, it will be public officials, lawyers and activists who will determine how – or if – those solutions get implemented.”
  • “we all need to ratchet up our creativity and our outreach to make it clear for everyone to understand, and easy for everyone to understand, that climate change is already affecting each of us, it’s affecting our communities, it’s affecting our friends and family, and that it will get worse very quickly if we do not mobilize to demand action both from the government and from leaders in the private sector.”
  • “We’re not going to see real action from politicians and business leaders until we create a much broader shift in public consciousness.”

Hear him. Hear him.

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left to right: Mike Mahoney, Jeff Smith, Stephen G. Harvey

 

Hats off to the NYC Bar Association and its Environmental Committee (chaired by the estimable Mike Mahoney of Pfizer) for being out front on climate change. And thank you Attorney General Schneiderman. We need many more elected officials with your understanding and passion on this critical issue, regardless of political stripe.