Pennsylvania governor sets emissions-cutting goals

Source: By Marc Levy, Associated Press • Posted: Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Gov. Tom Wolf (D) is stepping up the fight against climate change and setting targets to slash Pennsylvania’s greenhouse gas emissions over the coming decades in a heavily populated and fossil-fuel-rich state.

Wolf yesterday issued an executive order that commits his administration to meeting certain targets, putting the state in a league with what the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions says are 20 other states that already set targets.

Wolf’s administration contends that Pennsylvania is already feeling the effects of climate change and that damaging changes are coming, including more extreme weather, flooding, and pest and disease management challenges for farmers and ranchers.

“This is not something that is meant to be an abstraction,” Wolf said this morning on KDKA-AM radio in Pittsburgh. “I mean, all over the state this past year we’ve had unusual weather.”

The order is nonbinding and does not require future governors to follow it after Wolf leaves office when his second term ends in 2023. Making major progress will likely require agreements with the Republican-controlled Legislature.

The order comes as operators of nuclear power plants in Pennsylvania seek a subsidy to remain open and Wolf’s administration works to get tougher on methane emissions from Pennsylvania’s vast natural gas exploration fields.

Wolf wants to reduce emissions by 26 percent by 2025, based on 2005 levels, and by 80 percent by 2050. The goals are in line with 2015’s landmark Paris climate agreement that President Trump pulled the United States out of.

Meeting 2025’s goal seems to be within reach, since federal data show Pennsylvania’s carbon dioxide emissions shrank more than 20 percent between 2005 and 2016, driven by a shift from coal to natural gas as a source for electricity generation. Wolf said the state has made progress toward the 2025 goal.

“We’re about halfway to where I want us to be, so we have some work to do,” Wolf said. “But I think part of what we have to do is say here’s our goal, here’s how we’re going to be measuring this and we all need to get to a better place.”