Penn Environment Touting Clean Cars

Penn Environment held an event today at the first electric care recharging station in Philadelphia.  The entire concept of “clean cars” sounds counter intuitive but with purely electric cars now on the road it is a reality.  The Nissan Leaf is totally electric while the Chevy Volt joins other hybrids such as the Prius, and Insight.  Electric cars need charging stations and the advent of the first ones is exciting.  Penn Environment sent this press release since I couldn’t get to Philadelphia for the event:

Representative (Greg) Vitali went on to say, “I thank PennEnvironment for their work on promoting the Obama administration’s proposed fuel efficiency standards for new cars and trucks.  The enactment of these standards is crucial to this country’s efforts to combat climate change and reduce our dependency on foreign oil. These standards will also save consumers a significant amount of money.”

Norman Zarwin, chairman and a founder of U-GO Stations, Inc and chairman of Zarwin Baum DeVito Kaplan Schaer Toddy law firm opened one of the first electric vehicle charging stations open to the public on the east coast. He discussed his incentives for his entrepreneurship with charging stations and the role electric vehicles play in cutting our dependence on oil. “The development of electric vehicles replacing oil driven vehicles is part of the alternate energy revolution. The western world, particularly the USA, needs to lessen dependency on oil imports from regions and countries that are politically unfriendly, such as the Middle East and Venezuela. Electric vehicles cost substantially less to drive than gasoline propelled vehicles and don’t have tailpipe emissions, lessening carbon dioxide emissions which is good for the environment by eliminating a substantial source of pollution.”

Sarah Wu, the Policy and Outreach Manager of the Mayor’s Office of Sustainability rounded out the discussion by stating the implications for the city: “Increasing the fuel standards for vehicles is an important step toward helping Philadelphia meet two of our important sustainability goals outlined in our Greenworks plan, to improve air quality and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The City of Philadelphia is committed to supporting fuel efficient vehicles, public transportation, and bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure to help our residents access transportation options that are convenient, affordable, and good for the environment.”

PennEnvironment also called on the Obama administration to avoid including loopholes in the final standard that would undermine the potential consumer savings and pollution reductions.  In addition to the public hearing being held in Philadelphia on Thursday January 19th, the Administration is accepting comments from the public through January 30, and will finalize the standards by the end of the summer.

Non Profits Form Citizens Marcellus Shale Commission

A group of non profit institutions across Pennsylvania has formed a Citizens Marcellus Shale Commission to, as they say, “try to bring some balance to the discussion.”  Gov. Corbett appointed an inudstry centered Marcellus Shale Commission which delivered its report earlier this summer.  Little direct citizen input was contributed to that discussion and all of their hearings were held during business hours in Harrisburg.  

The organizations involved in this effort are Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center, Clean Water Action, Keystone Progress, League of Women Voters of Pennsylvania, Housing Alliance of Pennsylvania, Penn Environment, Sierra Club Pennsylvania Chapter, and the CLEAR Coalition.  They each nominated individuals to serve on the Commission and former State Representatives Dan Surra (D) and Carole Rubley (R) are the Co-Chairs.  They will conduct five regional hearings around the Commonwealth  during evening hours so people can attend and will also accept written comments and testimony through their website.

The scheduled meetings are:

Southwestern Pennsylvania

Aug. 31, 2011, 6-9 pm: South Fayette Middle School, 3640 Old Oakdale Rd., McDonald, Pa

Southeastern Pennsylvania

Sept. 6, 2011, 6-9 pm: The Free Library of Philadelphia, 1901 Vine St., Philadelphia, Pa.

Northeastern Pennsylvania

Sept. 13, 2011, 6-9 pm: Lycoming College, Academic Center on Mulberry Street, Room D001, Lower Level, Williamsport, Pa.

Sept. 14, 2011, 6-9 pm: Wysox Volunteer Fire Company, P.O. Box 2, Lake Rd., Wysox, Pa.

Central Pennsylvania

Week of Sept. 18, 2011, Harrisburg, Pa. (Details TBA)

The Citizens Commission hopes to send a report by mid October to the Governor, state legislators and the people of Pennsylvania designed “to supplement and add to” the Governor’s Commission.  Most of the testimony taken by that body was from industry people and/or experts hired and paid for by the energy industry.  As one participant said in a conference call this morning, this is too important long term to the state to not be done properly.  While profits are privatized the long term environmental costs will be socialized, a bill delivered to taxpayers down the road.

Broader focus of the Citizens Commission will include the social costs of drilling, impacts on hunters and fishermen, the impact of potential extraction taxes or fees, and the impact on Pennsylvania”s animals.  Some hunters have found themselves confronted by armed security guards while using state lands.  

Anyone unable to attend a hearing can contribute comments or testimony to the Commission via its website.