The Fracking Prostitutes of American Colleges

(part 3 of 3)

by Walter Brasch

[Part 1: Lackawanna College, a two-year college in Scranton, Pa., accepted a $2.5 million endowment from Cabot Oil & Gas Corp. to strengthen that college’s programs and ties to the oil and gas industry. Part 2: Problems with academic integrity in other Pennsylvania colleges.]

Among the mission statements of the University of North Dakota Department of Geology and Geological Engineering is that it “strives to develop in its engineering graduates keen insight and abilities to design an environmentally sound and sustainable future for humanity.”

Like most college mission statements, it’s a broad and vague goal, one that may not reflect reality. The Department is one of the better ones in the country, especially in training students to work in areas of gas and oil exploration and processing. However, their training-and research by the faculty-may be tainted by an industry bias, fueled by a $14 million gift.

The Department is now the Harold Hamm School of Geology and Geological Science. Hamm, CEO of Continental Resources, the ninth largest oil producer in the United States, provided $5 million to the renamed School; his company provided an additional $5. The other $4 million came from the Industrial Commission/Oil and Gas Research Program, a merger of the state of North Dakota and several gas and oil corporations.

Continental Resources, which had revenue of $3.65 billion and a net profit of $764.2 million in 2013, had opened up the oil shale in North Dakota, site of the Bakken Shale, and is currently the top producer of oil production in the country. Continental, which uses the controversial practice of high volume hydraulic horizontal fracturing (known as fracking) to extract the oil, predicts to produce 62.5-65.5 million barrels of oil, an increase in production of 26-32 percent.

UND isn’t the only college to benefit from the oil and gas industry.

In West Virginia, Bethany College and West Liberty University signed mineral rights leases, claiming the money from royalties would help improve programs and provide for new buildings. The University of Texas at Arlington, sitting above the Barnett Shale, has 22 wells on a single pad site at the edge of campus. At Indiana State University, president Dan Bradley, a petroleum engineer who touts fracking as “a freight train on steroids,” has permitted wells and pipes on campus.  

Against significant student and community opposition, the University of Tennessee opened its 8,000 acre Cumberland Research Forest to the natural gas industry. The 20-year lease includes a $300,000 a year payment plus at least 10 percent royalties. The university stated it was entering into the agreement in order to “conduct unbiased, scientifically sound research.” However, because the research is funded by the natural gas industry, the ethical probability of a conflict of interest must be raised. If the university makes money from the industry, and a portion of that money is targeted for faculty research, how impartial can that research be?

Politicians who take substantial contributions from the oil and gas lobbyists tend to be the ones who vote against human services and education budget increases. By dangling possible income from mineral rights leases, they blur the distinction between professors and corporate shills.

Research conducted by Drs. Charles G. Groat and Thomas W. Grimshaw and a team from the Energy Institute at the University of Texas placed the primary problem of methane in well water with the construction problems in both natural gas wells and drinking water wells rather than the process itself. Dr. Groat’s study supported the industry’s claims that fracking doesn’t cause health and pollution problems.

However, the Public Accountability Initiative revealed in July 2012 that Dr. Groat was a member of the board of Plains Exploration and Production Co., which conducts fracking operations. He received an annual fee for being a member of the Board. Since November 2007, when he became a member of the Board, Dr. Groat received about $1.6 million in stock from the company. The Initiative noted that the research by Dr. Groat and his team was distinguished by “bold, definitive, industry-friendly claims highlighted in the press release but not supported by the underlying report; evidence of poor scholarship and industry bias; and dubious and inaccurate claims of peer review” that had led the media to report there was no relationship between fracking and health and pollution problems. In response, Dr. Groat said his role “was to organize [the study], coordinate the activities and report their conclusions.” He claimed he did not “alter their conclusions” and his presence on the Pioneer board had “no bearing on the results of the study.”

An independent investigation initiated by the University of Texas found “failures and inadequacies in several procedural areas,” and that the study “fell short of contemporary standards for scientific work.”

A University of Texas study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in September 2013, concluded there were minimal leaks of methane from fracked wells. However, Sharon Kelly, an attorney, journalist, and long-time environmentalist who analyzed the University of Texas study for DeSmogBlog, noted: “The vast majority of the wells studied used leak-control technology that has yet to be adopted at many, if not most, oil and gas wells, while others were wells that produced very little gas and consequently even serious leaks would produce relatively small emissions.” Physicians Scientists & Engineers for Healthy Energy (PSE) determined the study was “fatally flawed.”

Horizontal fracking to extract shale gas “is a wonderful gift that has arrived just in time,” say Dr. Richard Muller, professor of physics at the University of California, and his daughter, Elizabeth Muller, executive director of Berkeley Earth. The Mullers argue, “Environmentalists should recognize the shale gas revolution as beneficial to society and lend their full support to helping it advance.” The Mullers are principals of the China Shale Fund, which is trying to get China to develop shale gas drilling; they would get financial compensation if China moves from coal to shale gas technology.

The natural gas industry needs to “seek out academic studies and champion with universities-because that again provides tremendous credibility to the overall process,” said S. Dennis Holbrook, an executive with Norse Energy and a member of the board of directors of the Independent Oil and Gas Association of New York (IOGA). One of the ways IOGA helped direct academic research is by its connection to SUNY’s Shale Resources and Society Institute (SRSI), which sponsored lectures, workshops, and professional studies. Among those research studies was one paper where “[A]ll four co-authors had ties to the oil and gas industry, as did four of five of its peer reviewers,” according to Steve Horn of DeSmogBlog.

An informal group of faculty, students, alumni and citizens stated that the Institute and the research emanating from it were not only “fatally compromised,” but that it represented “not the independent search for knowledge proper to a university but a frantic and servile willingness to sell academic legitimacy to a public relations campaign for the gas industry.” The Public Accountability Project analyzed the SUNY/ Buffalo study and “identified a number of problems that undermine its conclusion.” In November 2012, six months after the Institute was created, SUNY/Buffalo closed it.

Several other research studies conducted at American universities and funded by either gas/oil companies or their front organizations allowed Barry Russell, president of the Independent Petroleum Association of America, to falsely claim, “no evidence directly connects injection of fracking fluid into shale with aquifer contamination.”

It makes little difference if the Community College of Philadelphia accepted “only” $15,000, Lackawanna College accepted $2.5 million, or the University of North Dakota accepted $14 million. We know what they have become-it’s just a matter of deciding how much a tainted body of knowledge is worth.

[Dr. Brasch is an award-winning journalist and professor emeritus of mass communications from the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education. He is author of 20 books, including Fracking Pennsylvania, a critically-acclaimed in-depth investigation of the process and effects of high volume hydraulic horizontal fracturing throughout the country. He looks at the process, health and environmental effects, the economics, and the collusion between politicians and the oil/gas lobby.]


Endorsement: Rep. Mark Cohen

Mark Cohen was first elected to the Pennsylvania House in 1974, the year I graduated from college.  He is the longest serving member of the state legislature and is one of the last liberal lions in a leadership position in Harrisburg.  With the departures of Rep. Babette Josephs two years ago and Sen. Jim Ferlo this year we have fewer staunch liberals in key positions in our Capitol.  If Sen. Leach is elected to Congress we’ll have one fewer.

I’ve known Rep. Cohen for a number of years and greatly appreciate his determined leadership.  He is a staunch defender of women’s productive rights and LGBT rights.  As Democratic Chair of the State Government Committee he has opposed the extreme politics of Chair Daryl Metcalfe.  I often chat with him in the halls when I’m in Harrisburg and he always has time for a conversation.  He is very gracious and deserves another term.

I don’t know Jared Solomon though I respect some of those supporting his challenge in this race.  I am disturbed by some of the mischaracterizations I have seen come from his campaign however.  Mark is no doddering old fool walking the halls muttering to himself.  I’ve run into him in those halls far too many times to accept this smear.  Unfortunately it says more about Mr. Solomon’s character than Mr. Cohen’s.

Please send Mark Cohen back to Harrisburg.

Mark Critz’s Pants Are On Fire. Again.

Mark Critz is running fr Lt. Governor and is at his old games once more:  lying about his background.  Claiming he should be elected on may 20th because he’ll “balance the ticket” with a progressive Gubernatorial candidate what he isn’t telling you in that is that he’s a very conservative, anti-choice and anti-LGBT kind of guy.  His resume is also littered with questionable conduct.  When the Pennsylvania Democratic Party rigged the selection process in order to give him Jack Murtha’s old Congressional seat (which he then proceeded to lose to a Tea Party Republican) we caught Critz in several untruths.  Then we caught him in more.  A company for which he was business manager failed to pay taxes.  When we used his LinkdIn page to prove he was working at that company at the time he quickly changed the information on the page.

Now he says he was working as a staffer for Congressman Murtha in 2001.  That LinkdIn page said differently.

Critz worked for a company called Parkins Concrete which did road construction and got caught not paying state and federal taxes.  He claimed to be working for both the company and Congressman Murtha simultaneously in his online resume.  Then he claimed not to know about the unpaid taxes although it would have been his job to pay them.  The Cambria Crier caught our reporting on these issues at the time:

First, when The Pennsylvania Progressive questioned Mark Critz about being employed by Parkins Concrete for a year while working for Murtha’s office, he never answered the question but just changed his Linkedln page to reflected he had already left the company. Being employed by the company and Murtha is a direct conflict of interest.  Nor did the Tribune-Democrat raise the issue that while Critz was the business manager and bookkeeper for Parkins Concrete the company was assessed significant state tax violations and federal tax liens.

First of all, why is a man running for Lt. Governor after failing to pay state and federal taxes while the business manager at Parkins Concrete?  The late Congressman Murtha’s activities with several Defense contractors has been the subject of an FBI investigation which may yet touch former staffers.  He is currently working as a consultant for a fracking industry lobbying group.

He thinks he can provide “balance” to a Democratic ticket this November.  I think all Mark Critz offers is more of the same.

Beware of U-Haul

I’ve had a very bad experience with U-Haul Moving and Storage of Reading, located at 1647 N. Fifth Street.  Before taking my Honda Element there last July for a trailer hitch and wiring harness I did an internet search.  I discovered a lot of problems associated with their standard wiring harness on Elements.  These have caused various issues with the lights and even some vehicle fires.  When I arrived there I mentioned these to the manager Jaime Lopez Jr. in an effort to avoid experiencing the same.  He assured me he knew which wiring harness to use to avoid the situation.

In early April my dash lights suddenly went out and I took the car to my mechanic.  While he kept replacing fuses (they kept blowing when he put one in) smoke began coming from the back of the car.  The U-Haul wiring harness was in the process of melting down.  They quickly removed it and I watched in shock as I saw the idiot at U-Haul had installed the standard “quick connect” harness.

I returned to U-Haul with the damaged harness and all Lopez offered was the opportunity to buy the correct one for $60.  I thought I already had bought it last summer, and paid him to install it properly.  What a liar and a cheat!  I’m certainly not going to give him any more business and have arranged to have my garage install the proper wiring harness next week.  Don’t use U-Haul for your trailer hitch and wiring harness needs.  They have refused to make good on their dishonesty and incompetence.

The Fracking Prostitutes of American Colleges

(part 2 of 3)

[Part 1: Lackawanna College, a two-year college in Scranton, Pa., accepted a $2.5 million endowment from Cabot Oil & Gas Corp. to strengthen that college’s programs and ties to the oil and gas industry.]

by Walter Brasch

Two of the reasons Pennsylvania has no severance tax and one of the lowest taxes upon shale gas drilling are because of an overtly corporate-friendly legislature and a research report from Penn State, a private state-related university that receives about $300 million a year in public funds.

Opponents of the tax cited a Penn State study that claimed a 30 percent decline in drilling if the fees were assessed, while also touting the economic benefits of drilling in the Marcellus Shale. What wasn’t widely known is that the lead author of the study, Dr. Timothy Considine, “had a history of producing industry-friendly research on economic and energy issues,” according to reporting by Jim Efsathioi Jr. of Bloomberg News. The Penn State study was sponsored by a $100,000 grant from the Marcellus Shale Coalition, an oil and gas lobbying group that represents more than 300 energy companies. Dr. William Easterling, dean of Penn State’s College of Earth and Mineral Sciences, said the study may have “crossed the line between policy analysis and policy advocacy.”

The Marcellus Center for Outreach and Research (MCOR), a part of Penn State, announced that with funding provided by General Electric and ExxonMobil, it would offer a “Shale Gas Regulators Training Program.” The Center had previously said it wasn’t taking funding from private industry. However, the Center’s objectivity may have already been influenced by two people. Gov. Tom Corbett, who accepted more than $2 million in campaign funds from oil and gas company personnel, sits on the university’s board of trustees; billionaire Terrence (Terry) Pegula, owner of the Buffalo Sabres hockey team, was CEO of East Resources, which he had sold to Royal Dutch Shell for $4.7 billion in July 2010. Pegula and his wife had also contributed about $380,000 to Corbett’s political campaign. On the day Pegula donated $88 million to Penn State to fund a world-class ice hockey arena and support the men’s and women’s intercollegiate ice hockey team, he said, “[T]his contribution could be just the tip of the iceberg, the first of many such gifts, if the development of the Marcellus Shale is allowed to proceed.” At the groundbreaking in April 2012, Pegula announced he increased the donation to $102 million.

The Shale Technology and Education Center (ShaleTEC) program at the Pennsylvania College of Technology, a branch of Penn State, was established “to serve as the central resource for workforce development and education needs of the community and the oil and natural gas industry,” according to its website.

With an initial $15,000 grant from the Marcellus Shale Coalition, the Community College of Philadelphia (CCP) planned to establish certificate and academic programs for workers either already employed by or intending to enter jobs that provide services to Marcellus Shale companies. In a news release loaded with pro-Corbett and pro-industry appeal, college president Stephen M. Curtis announced in November 2012, “The goal is to support the supply chain now serving energy companies and offer specialized career training that connects residents to the high-pay, high-demand career paths.” John Braxton, assistant professor of biology and an ecologist, said CCP “must not be used as a PR puppet for shale gas fracking companies,” accurately noting that the fracking industry “got a free publicity ride” by the administration’s hasty decisions. Within two weeks of CCP’s announcement, the faculty union (AFT Local 2026), which represents the college’s 1,050 faculty and 200 staff, condemned the decision to establish the Center “without the consideration or approval of the faculty, and with total disregard for established College procedures for instituting new academic curricula.” In a unanimous vote by the Representative Council, the faculty declared, “the natural gas drilling . . . industry and peripheral and related industries present unacceptable dangers and risks to public health, worker safety, the natural environment, and quality of life.” Curtis left CCP in Summer 2013; the proposed program was never developed, and remains unfunded.

In April 2011, Gov. Corbett had suggested that the 14 universities of the State System of Higher Education (SSHE) could allow natural gas drilling on the campuses that sit on top of the Marcellus Shale. The ensuing Act, passed by the Republican-controlled legislature, includes clauses to compromise the universities’ academic integrity. In exchange for supporting fracking, the new act allows the university where the gas is extracted to retain one-half of all royalties; 35 percent would go to the other state universities; 15 percent would be used for tuition assistance at the 14 state universities. California and Mansfield universities have already begun to profit from fracking.

In a secret negotiation revealed by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the Student Association of California University signed over mineral rights on 67 acres. The lease includes a confidentiality clause.

The Marcellus Institute at Mansfield University is “an academic/shale gas partnership,” designed to educate the people about the issues of natural gas production. The university holds summer classes for teachers and week-long camps for high school students to allow them to “Learn about the development of shale gas resources in our region and the career and educational opportunities available to you after high school!”

The university’s associate in applied sciences (A.A.S.) degree in natural gas production and services, begun in Fall semester 2012, was fast-tracked, submitted and approved in less than six months rather than the 12-18 months normally required for approval. The university “will take as many students as we can,” said Lindsey Sikorski, the Institute’s director, although only one new faculty position was approved. The SSHE administration encourages larger class sizes and fewer permanent professors. The program, Sikorski says, “is not one of advocacy for the industry, and all sides will be considered.” The program has not received any grants from the industry; Sikorski said she “doesn’t want there to be any conflicts of interest” that would “compromise the integrity of the program.” However, the reality is that energy companies and their lobbying groups may eventually fill a financial hole created by Corbett cutting higher education funding and the system’s chancellor refusing to protect academic integrity in the state-owned universities. (Neither Chancellor John Cavanaugh nor his successor, Frank Brogan, responded to repeated calls.)

The union that represents the state system’s 6,000 faculty passed a resolution in September 2013 opposing drilling on campuses, stating that the campuses “are not appropriate locations for [fracking] given the environmental and health hazards of the fracking process.”

[Next week: Compromising academic integrity at other American universities.]

[Dr. Brasch is an award-winning journalist and professor emeritus of mass communications. He is author of 20 books, including Fracking Pennsylvania, a critically-acclaimed in-depth investigation of the process and effects of high volume hydraulic horizontal fracturing throughout the country.]


The Fracking Prostitutes of American Colleges

(part 1 of 2)

by Walter Brasch

Lackawanna College, a two-year college in Scranton, Pa., has become a prostitute.

The administration doesn’t think of themselves or their college as a prostitute. They believe they are doing a public service. Of course, streetwalkers and call-girls also believe they are doing a public service.

Lackawanna College’s price is $2.5 million.

That’s how much Cabot Oil & Gas paid to the School of Petroleum and Natural Gas, whose own nine building campus is in New Milford in northeastern Pennsylvania.  On the School’s logo are now the words, “Endowed by Cabot Oil & Gas Corporation.”

That would be the same Cabot Oil & Gas Corporation that has racked up more than 500 violations since it first used horizontal fracking to extract gas in the Marcellus Shale almost six years ago.

That would be the same company that was found to be responsible for significant environmental and health damages in Dimock, Pa.

It’s the same company, fronted by four lawyers, that managed to keep a peaceful grandmother anti-fracking activist not only off its property, but away from Susquehanna County’s recycling center, a hospital, grocery stores, restaurants and 40 percent of the county where Cabot has mineral rights leases.

Several major gas and oil companies and suppliers-including Anadarko, BakerHughes, Chesapeake Energy, Halliburton, Noble Energy, Southwestern Energy, Williams Midstream, and others-have also contributed scholarships, equipment, and funding to the School. The School’s mission includes creating “a campus that is focused and dedicated to the oil and gas industry.”

Lackawanna College proudly claims its Cabot-endowed School is “focused on its vision of becoming a nationally-recognized, first in class program in the field of petroleum and natural gas technology.” There is no question the School is fulfilling its promise. A $500,000 outdoor field laboratory simulates a working gas field; all students are required to complete internships.

Richard Marquardt, the School’s executive director, has B.S. degrees in petroleum engineering and business management, as well as a long history of work in the industry. The eight other full-time faculty also have engineering degrees and significant industry experience. Fifteen adjunct faculty also have significant industry experience.

By Fall semester, the School will have about 150 full-time students. Students major in one of four programs-petroleum and natural gas technology, natural gas compression technology, petroleum and natural gas measurement, and petroleum and natural gas business administration.

Admission to the School’s rigorous academic programs “is highly competitive,” with students needing a strong science and math background prior to acceptance, says Marquardt. The students earn an associate in science degree upon completion of the two-year program. “It is focused on a very specific market,” says Marquardt, providing personnel at a level between the vocational training programs and the B.S. engineering programs. The placement rate is over 90 percent, says Marquardt.

In their fourth semester, students take a course in “Leadership, Ethics, & Regulations,” which explores “the holistic environment in which the Petroleum and Natural Gas industry operates, including the effect of corporate leadership on the company’s credibility and reputation; real world ethical issues  . . . and the relationship of the industry to federal, state, and local governments, including regulatory agencies.”

The development of the process of high volume hydraulic horizontal fracturing (commonly known as fracking) was the result of brilliant engineering by Mitchell Energy during the 1990s. Less than a decade ago, it became the most prevalent way to extract oil and gas. But, with the new technology has come significant problems.

An associate’s degree doesn’t mean the students, no matter how prepared they are to work in the shale gas industry, will be exposed to the issues, reports, and scientific studies that suggest fracking causes significant environmental and health problems, major concerns of those who oppose the process of horizontal fracking. After all, Cabot wasn’t going to invest in a college program that presented all sides of the issues. Nor is Cabot likely to invest anything more if the college expands its program to require that students also take classes in renewable energy, and the health and environmental effects of fracking.

But, that really doesn’t matter. Cabot paid $2.5 million, and other gas supplier, extraction, and development companies donated scholarships, funds, and equipment to make sure the students receive what may be one of the nation’s best possible educations to be prepared to work in the gas fields. They didn’t put money and resources into a program that would ask some of the most important questions-“What are the major effects to the health and environment from what we are doing?” “What should we be doing to develop new technology that doesn’t threaten the health and safety of the people?” and “Is fossil fuel really the best way to assure the production of energy.

[Next week: Other colleges that may have been compromised by accepting corporate donations.)

[Dr. Brasch is an award-winning journalist and professor emeritus of mass communications. He is author of 20 books, including Fracking Pennsylvania, a critically-acclaimed in-depth investigation of the process and effects of high volume hydraulic horizontal fracturing throughout the country.]


Climate Change: Impact on Pennsylvania

The White House just released its report on climate change and has issued this fact sheet on its predicted effects in Pennsylvania and the Northeast:

FACT SHEET: What Climate Change Means for Pennsylvania and the Northeast

Today, the Obama Administration released the third U.S. National Climate Assessment-the most comprehensive scientific assessment ever generated of climate change and its impacts across every region of America and major sectors of the U.S. economy. The findings in this National Climate Assessment underscore the need for urgent action to combat the threats from climate change, protect American citizens and communities today, and build a sustainable future for our kids and grandkids.

The National Climate Assessment is a key deliverable of President Obama’s Climate Action Plan to cut carbon pollution, prepare America’s communities for climate-change impacts, and lead international efforts to address this global challenge. Importantly, the plan acknowledges that even as we act to reduce the greenhouse-gas pollution that is driving climate change, we must also empower the Nation’s states, communities, businesses, and decision makers with the information they need prepare for climate impacts already underway.

The Obama Administration has already taken a number of steps to deliver on that commitment to states, regions, and communities across America. In the past year alone, these efforts have included: establishing a Task Force of State, Local, and Tribal Leaders on Climate Preparedness and Resilience to advise the Administration on how the Federal Government can respond to the needs of communities nationwide that are dealing with the impacts of climate change; launching a Climate Data Initiative to bring together extensive open government data with strong commitments from the private and philanthropic sectors to develop planning and resilience tools for communities; and establishing seven new “climate hubs” across the country to help farmers and ranchers adapt their operations to a changing climate.

PENNSYLVANIA is part of the U.S. National Climate Assessment U.S. Northeast Region. The regional phenomena identified by the Assessment may not occur in every state that is part of a particular region. According to the third U.S. National Climate Assessment Highlights report:

“Sixty-four million people are concentrated in the Northeast. The high-density urban coastal corri­dor from Washington, D.C., north to Boston is one of the most developed environments in the world. It contains a massive, complex, and long-standing network of supporting infrastructure. The North­east also has a vital rural component, including large expanses of sparsely populated but ecologi­cally and agriculturally important areas.

Although urban and rural regions in the North­east are profoundly different, they both include populations that are highly vulnerable to climate hazards and other stresses. The region depends on aging infrastructure that has already been stressed by climate hazards including heat waves and heavy downpours. The Northeast has ex­perienced a greater recent increase in extreme precipitation than any other region in the U.S.; between 1958 and 2010, the Northeast saw more than a 70% percent increase in the amount of precipitation falling in very heavy events (defined as the heaviest 1% of all daily events). This increase, combined with coastal and riverine flooding due to sea level rise and storm surge, creates increased risks. For all of these reasons, public health, agriculture, transportation, commu­nications, and energy systems in the Northeast all face climate-related challenges.” (NCA Highlights, p. 70)

Regional Findings of the Third U.S. National Climate Assessment: NORTHEAST

·         “Heat waves, coastal flooding, and river flooding will pose a growing challenge to the region’s environmental, social, and economic systems. This will increase the vulnerability of the region’s residents, especially its most disadvantaged populations.

·         Infrastructure will be increasingly compromised by climate-related hazards, including sea level rise, coastal flooding, and intense precipitation events.

·         Agriculture, fisheries, and ecosystems will be increasingly compromised over the next century by climate change impacts. Farmers can explore new crop options, but these adaptations are not cost- or risk-free. Moreover, inequities exist in adaptive capacity, which could be overwhelmed by changing climate.

·         While a majority of states and a rapidly growing number of municipalities have begun to incorporate the risk of climate change into their planning activities, implementation of adaptation measures is still at early stages.” (NCA, Ch. 16: Northeast)

Selected Findings and Information from the Third U.S. National Climate Assessment Relevant to PENNSYLVANIA

·         Water: “Throughout the Northeast, populations are also concentrated along rivers and their flood plains. In mountainous regions, including much of West Virginia and large parts of Pennsylvania, New York, Vermont, and New Hampshire, more intense precipitation events will mean greater flood risk, particularly in valleys, where people, infrastructure, and agriculture tend to be concentrated.” (Ch. 16: Northeast)

·         Energy: “Warmer winters will decrease the amount of natural gas required to heat buildings, especially in the Northeast, Midwest, and Northwest. Rising sea levels, combined with normal and potentially more intense coastal storms, an increase in very heavy precipitation events, and local land subsidence, threaten coastal energy equipment as a result of inundation, flooding, and erosion.” (NCA, Ch. 4: Energy)

·         Health: “During extreme heat events, nighttime temperatures in the region’s big cities are generally several degrees higher than surrounding regions, leading to increased heat-related death among those less able to recover from the heat of the day. Since the hottest days in the Northeast are often associated with high concentrations of ground-level ozone and other pollutants, the combination of heat stress and poor air quality can pose a major health risk to vulnerable groups: young children, the elderly, and those with pre-existing health conditions including asthma.” (NCA, Ch. 16: Northeast)

·         Heat Waves: “Extreme heat events have long threatened public health in the United States. Many cities, including St. Louis, Philadelphia, Chicago, and Cincinnati, have suffered dramatic increases in death rates during heat waves. Extreme summer heat is increasing in the United States, and climate projections indicate that extreme heat events will be more frequent and intense in coming decades. However, early action provides the largest health benefits. There is evidence that heat-health early warning systems have saved lives and money in U.S. cities like Philadelphia, PA.” (NCA, Ch. 9: Health)

·         Flood Risk: “Throughout the Northeast, populations are also concentrated along rivers and their flood plains. In mountainous regions, including much of West Virginia and large parts of Pennsylvania, New York, Vermont, and New Hampshire, more intense precipitation events will mean greater flood risk, particularly in valleys, where people, infrastructure, and agriculture tend to be concentrated.” (NCA, Ch. 16: Northeast)

·         Adaptation: Pennsylvania has “enacted polices to encourage the use of green infrastructure and ecosystem-based approaches for managing storm water and flooding.”(NCA, Ch. 28: Adaptation)

Examples of Efforts Underway in PENNSYLVANIA to Address Climate Change

In PENNSYLVANIA, many efforts are already underway to mitigate and respond to the impacts of climate change, including:

Preparing Communities for the Consequences of Climate Change:

Many important preparedness, resilience, and adaptation efforts are already being led by local, state, and regional entities across the country. Mechanisms being used by local governments to prepare for climate change include: land-use planning; provisions to protect infrastructure and ecosystems; regulations related to the design and construction of buildings, road, and bridges; and preparation for emergency response and recovery.  These local adaptation planning and actions are unfolding in municipalities of different sizes, and regional agencies and regional aggregations of governments are also taking actions. And States have also become important actors in efforts related to climate change.

·      Mayor Michael Nutter (Philadelphia, PA) serves on the President’s State, Local and Tribal Leaders Task Force for Climate Preparedness and Resilience. Mayor Nutter has shown his strong commitment to sustainability though the Greenworks program which integrates sustainability work across city government. In partnership with the DOE, under Mayor Nutter’s leadership the City of Philadelphia has advanced building energy efficiency and solar programs. The Philadelphia Water Department has also worked closely with the EPA on innovative green stormwater management infrastructure. Through Greenworks Philadelphia has made progress mitigating greenhouse gas emissions, and is currently working with municipal agencies on preparing for the changing climate.

Cutting Carbon Pollution in PENNSYLVANIA:

In 2012, power plants and major industrial facilities in Pennsylvania emitted more than 140 million metric tons of carbon pollution-that’s equal to the yearly pollution from more than 30 million cars. Through the Climate Action Plan and state initiatives, there are many efforts already underway to mitigate and respond to the impacts of climate change in Pennsylvania, including:

·         Investing in Clean Energy: Since President Obama took office, the U.S. increased solar-electricity generation by more than ten-fold and tripled electricity production from wind power.  In Pennsylvania, renewable energy generation from wind, solar, and geothermal sources increased nearly 100 percent.  Since 2009, the Administration has supported tens of thousands of renewable energy projects throughout the country, including more than 1,154 in Pennsylvania, generating enough energy to power more than 170,000 homes and helping Pennsylvania meet its own goal of generating 18 percent of its electricity from renewable energy sources by 2021.

·         Improving Efficiency: Using less energy to power our homes, businesses and vehicles is critical to building a clean and secure energy future.  President Obama has made essential investments in research and development for energy efficiency advances, and set new standards to make the things we use every day – from cars to microwaves – more efficient.  

o     President Obama established the toughest fuel economy standards for passenger vehicles in U.S. history.  These standards will double the fuel efficiency of our cars and trucks by 2025, saving the average driver more than $8,000 over the lifetime of a 2025 vehicle and cutting carbon pollution.

o     Since October 2009, the Department of Energy and the Department of Housing and Urban Development have jointly completed energy upgrades nearly two million homes across the country, saving many families more than $400 on their heating and cooling bills in the first year alone.

o     As part of the President’s Better Buildings Challenge, Pittsburgh committed to reducing energy intensity 20 percent by 2020 in 1.77 million square feet of its buildings. Allegheny College in Meadville committed to reducing intensity by the same level for its 1.3 million square feet of building space. Philadelphia Housing Authority has also committed 20 percent reduction in energy intensity by 2020 in 7.3 million square feet of buildings in its authority.  Action Housing, a multifamily residential partner, has committed to reduce energy intensity 20 percent in 10 years in 815 thousand square feet of affordable housing.

For more information about the third U.S. National Climate Assessment, please visit or contact