Local legislators join fight to bring clean energy solutions

Daily Local News, 7/26/18

State Rep. Carolyn Comitta, D-156, right, Mayor Dianne Herrin, and West Chester University Director of Sustainability, Bradley Flamm, take questions at a clean energy forum promoting clean energy solutions Wednesday night.

West Chester >> On Wednesday night, PennEnvironment was joined by state Sen. Andy Dinniman, D-19, state Rep. Carolyn Comitta, D-156, Mayor Dianne Herrin, and West Chester University Director of Sustainability, Bradley Flamm, to hold a clean energy forum promoting clean energy solutions and calling on Pennsylvania to transition to 100 percent renewable energy as quickly as possible.

Almost 90 Chester County residents joined the panelists Wednesday night at Mitchell Hall at West Chester University, filling the room to the point of standing room only. Event attendees submitted questions for the panelists, and an engaging discussion ensued about how residents can work together to push for clean energy and ensure a healthy, livable climate for all.

With record heat waves and torrential downpours hitting the state and wildfires burning across the West Coast, the need for clean energy solutions and moving off of fossil fuels to solve climate change could not be any clearer.

“As Pennsylvanians, we have a constitutionally-protected right to ‘clean air, pure water and the preservation of the natural, scenic, historic and esthetic values of the environment.’ We must continue to assert ourselves in defending and supporting those rights,” said Dinniman.

The state-elected officials in attendance both cosponsored legislation in the General Assembly that would require Pennsylvania to transition to 100 percent renewable energy by 2050. This legislation is HB2132 in the state House and SB1140 in the state Senate.

“I have been a champion for environmental causes for decades. My work beginning at the local level in borough council and as mayor of West Chester, to my work as a state representative and at the United Nations. West Chester and West Chester University have been partners moving toward a clean energy future for many years,” said Comitta.

“We applaud Senator Dinniman and Representative Comitta for cosponsoring this bipartisan legislation to make Pennsylvania a leader in tackling climate change,”said Jess Cadorette, Climate Defender Organizer for Chester County at PennEnvironment. “Eliminating the use of fossil fuels here in the Commonwealth would save consumers money, reduce harmful air pollution, and combat climate change.”

Chester County residents heard all four panelists speak to how they each work in their realms to push for a cleaner future for all. While Dinniman and Comitta touched on their efforts at the state level, Herrin spoke to the extensive local efforts the borough has been working towards. WCU’s own Flamm got the chance to highlight the intensive efforts the University has made to become a collegiate leader on the path to renewable energy.

“West Chester University, with commitments documented in our Climate Action Plan and Strategic Plan, is working to reduce our carbon emissions from all sources of energy,” said Flamm, Director of Sustainability for West Chester University. “We have invested in small solar arrays and promoted renewable energy development by buying RECs. And we’re exploring other strategies … We’re proud of the progress we’ve made and ready to do our part by continually reducing our carbon emissions.”

Herrin highlighted how West Chester Borough has already passed a resolution committing to operating on 100 percent renewable energy by 2050. “We don’t just have a climate problem. We have a looming crisis of economic strain and weather conditions that are not life-sustaining,” said Herrin. “I believe strongly in the power of community to lead the charge to a clean energy economy that will produce good jobs while protecting our health and our children’s future.”

Pennsylvania currently has over 85,000 jobs in the clean energy sector, a number which will only climb as the Commonwealth continues to invest in renewable energy. Despite Pennsylvania’s long standing history in fossil fuel extraction, the clean energy sector now has more jobs than all fossil fuel sectors combined. The event showed the strong economic potential from transitioning to 100 percent renewable energy.

“I want to thank PennEnvironment for being a statewide leader in those efforts. And rest assured that I will continue to champion and support efforts to promote renewable energy and resources,” said Dinniman.

The event attendees and elected officials committed to continue working together to fight climate change and bring about a 100 percent renewable energy future, helping to ensure a livable climate for future generations of Pennsylvanians.

PennEnvironment is holding events like this throughout the Delaware Valley to educate local residents and elected officials, and to increase activism and engagement in the fight to solve climate change.

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