WEST CHESTER—A bipartisan group of 88 Republican and Democratic Pennsylvania state legislators yesterday announced the re-introduction of legislation in the General Assembly that would require Pennsylvania to get 100 percent of its energy from renewable sources by 2050.
State Rep. Chris Rabb (Philadelphia) introduced the House bill (HB 1425), which was also proposed in last year’s session. The Senate version of this legislation (SB630), sponsored by State Sen. Tom Killion (Chester & Delaware County), was first introduced last year by now-retired Republican senator Charles McIlhinney (Bucks County). This effort is the first 100 percent renewable energy legislation in the nation where the lead sponsors have been Republicans.
“The vast majority of scientists agree that climate change is real,” said Rabb. “And you don’t have to be a scientist to notice its effects, which have been caused by human activity. By resorting to 100 percent renewable energy in the commonwealth, we can help to slow this change or face the on-going irreparable damage and its detrimental consequences.”
Many Chester County legislators are co-sponsors of the legislation, including: Senators Andrew Dinniman (SD 19), Tim Kearney (SD 26), and Katie Muth (SD 44), as well as Representatives Dan Williams (HD 74), Danielle Friel Otten (HD 155), Carolyn Comitta (HD 156), Melissa Shusterman (HD 157), Christina Sappey (HD 158), Stephen Barrar (HD 160), and Kristine Howard (HD 167).
Under this bill, Pennsylvania would be required to devise a statewide plan to transition to 100 percent renewable energy by 2050. The proposals would set benchmarks for phasing out nonrenewable energy by requiring 50 percent renewable energy with 100 percent renewable electricity by 2030, 80 percent renewable energy by 2040 and, ultimately, 100 percent renewable energy for all energy production sectors by 2050.
The intent of this legislation is to achieve what the scientific community in Pennsylvania and internationally have stated must be accomplished to avoid the worst effects of climate change; eliminating global warming pollution by 2050 to avoid a climate change “tipping point” from which the planet cannot turn back.
“For far too long, Pennsylvania has been a huge part of the problem when it comes to climate change, said David Masur, PennEnvironment’s executive director. “With the introduction of today’s legislation, Pennsylvania can be a huge part of the solution in the race to fight climate change.”
Hawaii (2015), California (2018) and New Mexico (2019) have all passed similar legislation. Washington is expected to sign their bill into law imminently and additional legislation is pending in Colorado, Maryland and Massachusetts.
“Renewable energy is paramount to our country’s future,” Killion said. “The clean energy revolution will continue to create new jobs, protect our environment and reduce global warming. We must do all that we can to ensure its success over the coming decades.”
The sponsors were joined at the legislation’s announcement by a diverse set of constituencies, showing their support for tackling climate change. Speakers, including religious leaders, public health experts, Pennsylvania academics involved in drafting previous international climate agreements, and clean energy and small business leaders.
”Lightsource BP looks forward to delivering affordable, local solar to help Pennsylvania achieve its ambitious clean energy targets,” said Laurie Mazer, vice president of development for Lightsource BP. “As a Pennsylvania-based developer, I am proud our in-state solar projects will drive economic development and job growth, increase biodiversity, support Penn State’s sustainability goals, and provide a cleaner, healthier environment for all Pennsylvania residents.”
Polls show growing bipartisan support from Pennsylvania voters for aggressive action to tackle climate change. In March, a survey by Franklin and Marshall University found that 67 percent of registered voters in the Commonwealth agree that climate change is currently causing problems and 68 percent believe that the legislature should do more to combat it.
“When we look back on who had the political will to do what it takes to protect our planet from the far-reaching negative effects of global warming, this will be the group of legislators recognized for their work in Pennsylvania,” said Masur “Because the question is not do we have the technological ability, the financial wherewithal, or the work ethic to tackle climate change—the only question is: do we have the political will?”