Earth Day is an annual event celebrated around the world on April 22nd to demonstrate support for environmental protection. First celebrated in 1970, it now includes events coordinated globally by the Earth Day Network in more than 193 countries.

This year, we celebrate the 50th anniversary of Earth Day.  This is a great opportunity to review what is happening at the state level to further environmental protection.

There are several proposed bills that have been introduced. I believe some of these bills indeed further the goals of protecting our planet and at least one bill that I believe has the potential for harm.

HB531 helps to expand community solar projects. Community solar creates exciting new markets and encourages entrepreneurship by dramatically expanding opportunities for neighbors, businesses, farms and other community members to participate and benefit from a solar project connected to the electric grid in PA.

Through community solar, participants can subscribe to a portion of an offsite solar project and receive credit on their electricity bill for the power produced, just as if the panels were on their roof. Community solar gives citizens and businesses the choice to participate—there is no mandate for participation or request for state funding. By passing this legislation, Pennsylvania would join 18 other states in giving its residents and businesses the opportunity to acquire solar energy from a community solar project.

HB1100 is legislation that targets those large manufacturers using PA Methane in the production of ammonia, urea and methanol. This bill would encourage large corporations to make PA their home.

This bill would leverage the natural gas industry by permitting significant tax credits to be issued to an undetermined number of plants who purchase and use natural gas in the manufacturing of petrochemicals or fertilizers in the Commonwealth.

HB1425 would transition PA to 100 percent renewable energy by 2050.

This bill would aid in decreasing greenhouse gases which in turn will reduce the levels of air, water, and land pollution, thereby preserving the health and welfare of citizens.

A transition to 100 percent renewable energy will provide for the creation of family-sustaining, green-collar jobs, giving Pennsylvania’s academic institutions and other stakeholders the opportunity to advance new fields of technology to produce commercial and civic innovations.

Members of the General Assembly often convene special interest caucuses; one such caucus is the Climate Caucus.

The Climate Caucus is a bicameral, bipartisan caucus focused solely on climate change and its environmental and economic impact in the Commonwealth. Its purpose is to provide a free-flowing discussion forum for legislators from both chambers and both sides of the aisle to address all issues related to climate change in Pennsylvania i.e.: jobs, industry, manufacturing, clean air, clean water, and specific regional impacts among them.

More information can be found here: https://www.pahouse.com/ClimateCaucus

Governor Wolf took executive action (October 3, 2019) instructing the PA Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to join the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), a market-based collaboration among nine Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and combat climate change while generating economic growth.

The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) is the first mandatory market-based program in the United States to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. RGGI is a cooperative effort among the states of Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, and Vermont to cap and reduce CO2 emissions from the power sector.

Additional information can be found here: https://www.rggi.org

A zero-waste package of bills has also been introduced. Details of those bills can be found at: https://www.pahouse.com/zerowaste

These bills range from prohibiting the use of ‘Styrofoam’ containers to providing plastic straws only upon request, to increasing littering and dumping fines, and increasing disposal and recycling fees at landfills.

Personally, I will utilize my reusable water bottle, continue to purchase products that are not unnecessarily packaged, and expand the uses for my cloth bags beyond the grocery store.

New this year for me will be learning to compost food scraps.

Thank you for joining me in celebrating Earth Day and to continue to promote environmental awareness and to remind others that we can protect the earth in our everyday lives.