Corbett Ignores PA's Climate Change Law

  • The Corbett Administration has failed to produce a pair of legally required reports about climate change, and the governor is reluctant to publicly discuss the topic. Photo: Michael Bryant/Inquirer/Landov

July 27, 2013
By Marie Cusick

A few months after taking office in 2011, Governor Corbett gave a speech saying science would guide his administration’s policy decisions.

“We need to protect the environment,” he said. “But we must do it on science, not emotion.”

However, not everyone agrees the governor is doing all he can to combat climate change.  According to a 2009 state report, Pennsylvania contributes a full one percent of the greenhouse gas emissions for the entire planet.  Nationally, the state ranks third for carbon dioxide emissions and fourth for coal production.

Christina Simeone chairs the state Department of Environmental Protection’s Climate Change Advisory Committee and works for the environmental organization PennFuture.

“There’s real questions about whether the Corbett administration believes that human-induced climate change exists,” she says.

The advisory committee was set up under a 2008 law known as the Pennsylvania Climate Change Act signed by former Governor Ed Rendell, a Democrat.  The law directed the DEP to produce a pair of non-binding reports: one is an overall climate change impact assessment, the other is an action plan for lowering greenhouse gas emissions.  Those documents were first published four years ago. The law requires them to be updated every three years, with the committee’s input.

Both updates were due last year. But Simeone and others who worked on drafts say they don’t know why neither report has been published yet.

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