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PA Groups Hoping Congress Sees Clean Energy Benefits

May 14, 2012

HARRISBURG, Pa. - For decades, the Clean Air Act has been the backbone of maintaining standards for the air we breathe.

Environmental groups in Pennsylvania say there's more at stake now than just clean air as the EPA looks to toughen the standards now in place.

Joy Bergey, federal policy director for Citizens for Pennsylvania's Future, or PennFuture, says getting away from outdated "dirty" energy opens the door for economic opportunities for employers and a healthier scenario, for not only their employees, but the public at large.

"When we use technology to clean up air pollution, the creation of that technology creates jobs. And, of course, if you don't have a healthy work force, who's going to run all those businesses?"

Bergey is hopeful that Congress will take a comprehensive look at what the Clean Air Act has meant to the economy since its inception in 1970.

"The benefits outweigh the costs 30 to one. That's looking at the cost of the technology, but all of those avoided costs of medical care, of a sick population, early death: think of health care costs."

Joe Mendelson, the policy director for the National Wildlife Federation's Climate and Energy Program, says Congress should do nothing less than recognize the Clean Air Act and its track record.

"This is something that is a bedrock American value for the air we breath. It's not just a windmill: It's American jobs, it's clean energy, it's for for our climate, and it's good for the overall growth of the economy."

A Labor Department study backs Bergey's assessment that clean energy is a driver of jobs and innovation, and estimates 3 million jobs have already been created by new technologies. Still, Congress is being pressured by opponents of stricter clean energy rules, who say tougher regulations on power plants would slow down economic growth.

Tom Joseph, Public News Service - PA