Could PA Gas Preemption Bill Derail Local Climate Action Plans?
Friday, June 11, 2021
HARRISBURG, Pa. -- A gas preemption bill in the state Senate would prevent Pennsylvania municipalities from adopting policies to restrict or prohibit methane gas use in new homes and buildings, in favor of using electricity.
Critics of the measure say it could especially hurt areas like Bethlehem, which has its own climate plan and has reduced municipal greenhouse-gas emissions by 37% from 2005 to 2017.
Robert Routh, public policy and regulatory counsel for the Clean Air Council, said the bill would hinder local communities' clean energy goals.
"The bill as currently written is over-broad," Routh argued. "And it has the potential to chill any municipal efforts to, say, adopt new energy-efficiency measures, or even to offer financial incentives to developers to pursue all-electric construction for new buildings."
Senate Bill 275 is still in committee, but Routh believes with the state's deep ties to the gas industry, it's likely the bill will pass, or be included in the budget as an amendment.
Appliances that use fossil-fuel energy sources account for 11% of greenhouse gas emissions in Pennsylvania, according to the Department of Environmental Protection.
Logan Welde, staff attorney and director of legislative affairs for the Council, thinks the policy could halt progress in curbing emissions.
"If we can't reduce the amount of gas that we're pulling out of the ground, transporting and burning, we are not going to be able to be on track to reduce the greenhouse-gas emissions that we really have to do."
A 2021 Department of Environmental Protection climate change impact assessment estimates the state is on course for a six-degree temperature increase by mid-century.
Rachel Golden, deputy director of the Clean Buildings Campaign for the Sierra Club, noted the Senate bill is part of a trend her organization is seeing in the U.S.
"The gas industry has seen this momentum, and they feel it is an existential threat to their business model," Golden asserted. "It's important to understand that the gas industry's main revenue source from delivering gas to end users is to homes and buildings."
She pointed out homes and buildings account for 94% of gas industry revenue in Pennsylvania, higher than the national average of 87%.
References:Senate Bill 275
Climate action plan City of Bethlehem, Pa.
Greenhouse gas inventory Pa. Dept. of Environmental Protection July 2020
Climate change impacts Pa. Dept. of Environmental Protection 05/05/2021
Natural Gas By The Numbers American Gas Association 06/11/2021
Voter survey Climate Nexus 09/23/2020
get more stories like this via email
RICHMOND, Va. - As U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., takes heat this week for attending a posh fundraiser in a dress that said "Tax the …
EAST TROY, Wis. - Wisconsin farmers are looking ahead to the fall harvest, and those who use cover crops face a deadline to sign up for a research …
SIOUX FALLS, S.D. - The pandemic is shining a new light on the burdens felt by family caregivers, and a bill in Congress would remove some of the …
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - State Rep. Randy Fine, R-Palm Bay, is lashing out against the idea of Critical Race Theory, filing a bill to ban its use in all …
PORTLAND, Ore. - Wealthy Americans have a message for Congress: Tax us more. More than 200 high-income taxpayers and business owners have sent an …
ALBANY, N.Y. - As a U.S. House committee debates the Biden administration's "Build Back Better" Act, a letter from more than 200 wealthy Americans …
By Sonali Kolhatkar for Yes! Media. Broadcast version by Lily Bohlke for Commonwealth News Service reporting for the YES! Media-Public News Service …
MANCHESTER, N.H. - Three New Hampshire professors are among those who've signed a letter urging the United Nations General Assembly to adopt what's …