FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
State Rep. Greg Vitali
House committee examines regional climate change impacts, policy options
PHILADELPHIA, June 7 – The House Democratic Policy Committee held a Thursday hearing at the Independence Seaport Museum to reopen the dialogue about climate change and what can be done to address it.
"This location on the Delaware River was chosen because of the impacts climate change will have on the river," said Rep. Greg Vitali, D-Delaware, who organized the hearing. "Climate change will likely cause the salt line to move upriver, impacting Philadelphia's drinking water supply."
Philadelphia Water Department Deputy Commissioner Christopher Crockett said more intense rain storms caused by climate change will have an impact on the department's operations.
"More intense rain events could potentially require PWD to upgrade infrastructure to handle more rainwater and increase the capacity of pipes, pumping stations and facilities," Crockett said. "We are already paying for climate change."
University of Pennsylvania planning professor Jonathan Barnett said climate change makes it more likely for the Delaware River Basin to experience a severe storm surge.
"Climate change amplifies the risk from hurricanes and storm surge, more frequent storms, more rainfall and higher tides from rising sea level," Barnett said. "Although unlikely, there is a Katrina-like hurricane risk for our region."
Penn State University geosciences professor Richard Alley said there's overwhelming evidence that humans are the principal cause of climate change.
"Scientific assessments such as those of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States, the U.S. Climate Change Science Program and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change have for decades consistently found with increasingly high scientific confidence that human activities are raising the concentration of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases in the atmosphere," Alley said.
Former Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection Secretary John Hanger said several steps can be taken to reduce climate change and its impacts. He discussed Pennsylvania's Climate Change Action Plan, which offered 52 recommendations about how Pennsylvania can reduce emissions of heat-trapping carbon dioxide.
He said measures can be taken to support electric production from clean, renewable sources and to encourage the carbon capture and storage technologies at power plants with carbon emissions.
Center for Climate Strategies attorney Joseph Cullen said existing building should be made to be more energy efficient.
"Green building retrofits are a no brainer," Cullen said.
Vitali said he intends to incorporate ideas presented at this hearing into future legislation.