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DEP Committee to Consider Final Draft Climate Change Action Plan Update Dec 20

The DEP Climate Change Advisory Committee will meet on December 20 where it is expected to endorse a draft update to the Pennsylvania Climate Change Action Plan along with a set of options for future actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the Commonwealth.
This is the first update to the original Climate Change Action Plan completed in 2009 as a result of the 2008 Pennsylvania Climate Change Act (Act 70). The Plan notes there have been significant changes to Pennsylvania’s greenhouse gas emissions since the base year of 2000 used in the Plan resulting in the estimate that overall climate changing emissions from the Commonwealth will be lower in 2020 than in the base year.
Policy/Program Recommendations
The draft Plan Update provides options in several sectors:

  • Electricity Production, Transmission and Distribution: Act 129 electricity use reduction, coal mine methane recovery, surface mines and non-gassy underground mines, gassy underground mines, combined heat and power, reducing methane leakage from natural gas infrastructure, waste-to-energy digesters, beneficial use of municipal solid waste (waste-to-energy facilities), nuclear capacity uprates, manure digesters and sulfur hexafluoride emission reductions from the electric power industry;
  • Residential, Commercial and Industrial: building commissioning, demand side management- natural gas and water, high-performance buildings, re-roof Pennsylvania, re-light Pennsylvania, industrial electricity best management practices, heating oil conservation and fuel switching, improved efficiency at wastewater treatment facilities and increased recycling initiative;
  • Land Use and Transportation: alternative fueled transit bus, taxicab fleets, cutting emissions from freight transportation; and
  • Agriculture and Forestry: durable wood products, forest protection easements, forestland protection initiative-acquisition, urban forestry and no-till farming.

Legislative Changes
The Plan Update recommends legislative changes in several areas:

  • Carbon Capture Liability: Address long-term liability issues associated with carbon capture and sequestration;
  • Carbon Capture Incentives: Provide incentives for the capture and use of coal mine methane;
  • DSIC Program Effectiveness: Evaluate the effectiveness of the DSIC (Distribution System Improvement Charges) Program for utilities to determine the impact accelerated natural gas distribution infrastructure replacement has on decreasing fugitive methane emissions;
  • Expand Natural Gas Use: Enact legislative incentivizing and directing natural gas utilities to expand existing service territory to un-serve customers in a cost-effective manner;
  • Alternative Fueled Vehicles: Provide additional incentives for the use of alternative fueled vehicles, including electric and LNG/CNG, particularly by large fuel consumption fleets;
  • Energy Use Profiling: Consider legislative mandating or encouraging energy use profiling for commercial buildings, similar to the City of Philadelphia ordinance;
  • Competitive Energy Markets: Expand competitive electricity markets to foster and encourage renewable and alternative energy suppliers to enter Pennsylvania’s market;
  • Support AEPS: Continue to support the implementation of the Alternative Energy Portfolio Standards; and
  • Add New Waste-To-Energy To AEPS: Amend the Alternative Energy Portfolio Standards to permit the inclusion of additional waste-to-energy facilities.

Climate Impact Assessment
In addition to the draft Action Plan Update, DEP released a Climate Impacts Assessment Update in October prepared by professors and students at Penn State University’s Environment and Natural Resources Institute.
Click here for a copy of the draft Action Plan Update. Click here for a copy of the draft Appendix to the Plan that includes the individual work plan recommendations.