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[ Paris Climate Deal: PA Cities say “We Are Still In” ]

President Trump may not be interested in keeping the United States in the Paris climate deal, but several Pennsylvania cities say they are.

Tuesday was called a “Still In” day of action, and rallies in Pittsburgh and Philadelphia were among the hundreds held around the nation to show a commitment to meeting the standards to reduce carbon emissions by 2050. Sustainability director for the city of Philadelphia, Christine Knapp, said it’s time for Pennsylvania to move away from its history of dirty energy.

“We’re trying to change our future to one that’s more just and healthy and fairer and affordable for folks,” Knapp said; “one that really revolves more around clean energy sources that don’t contribute to carbon emissions and don’t contribute to air pollution. Having Pennsylvania take the stand is really important.”

More than 2,500 leaders representing businesses, colleges, cities and states have signed the “We Are Still In” declaration in support of climate action.

After Trump used the line of “Pittsburgh, not Paris” to justify the withdrawal from the Paris deal, Pittsburgh Mayor William Peduto vowed his city would be 100 percent powered by clean energy by 2030 and lead by example. Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney made a similar announcement. And on Tuesday, Philadelphia also released a plan for how the city will meet the Paris climate goals.

“Residents, businesses, institutions, legislative bodies: This is a road map of options, of policy levers, actions that people can take to help us all move towards this direction,” Knapp said; “because the city can lead by example, but everybody has to take action in order for us to meet these ambitious goals. ”

Allentown, Ambler, Bethlehem, Easton, Ferguson Township, Lancaster, Swarthmore and West York Borough join Pittsburgh and Philadelphia as Pennsylvania cities that have declared a commitment to support local climate action in the absence of federal leadership.

-Mary Kuhlman, Keystone State News Connection

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[ Study: Ethanol Mandate Adding to Carbon Pollution ]

The federal mandate to add ethanol to fuel has led to a big increase in climate disrupting pollution, according to new research from the University of Wisconsin.

The Renewable Fuel Standard requires about 17 billion gallons of ethanol, derived mostly from corn, to be blended into gasoline every year.

Since 2007, that has led to the conversion of more than 7 million acres of grassland and forest to agricultural production.

According to Seth Spawn, one of the researchers at the University of Wisconsin, that conversion is releasing massive amounts of climate pollution into the air.

“We found that expansion caused emissions of almost 30 million metric tons of carbon per year,” he states. “That’s roughly equivalent to emissions of 20 million cars.”

While cropland expansion is most prevalent in Corn Belt states, the highest amounts of carbon emitted per acre are found in New England, along the Eastern Seaboard and the upper Great Lakes.

Tyler Lark, co-author of the study, says the conversions to cropland in the U.S. are similar to the clearing of tropical rain forest in Brazil.

However, he notes that the carbon released there is mostly from trees and is easier to recapture.

“The emissions we see here in the U.S. are primarily from soil carbon stores, which can take hundreds of years or more to replenish and may never be fully restored,” he points out.

Cropland expansion under the ethanol mandate also has led to the loss of natural habitat for monarch butterflies, ground nesting birds and many other species of wildlife.

Collin O’Mara, president of the National Wildlife Federation, says the findings of the study send a clear message to lawmakers and the Environmental Protection Agency.

“We have to act with purpose and urgency to fix the ethanol mandate and to confront climate change to protect our health, our environment, our economy and wildlife,” he stresses. “We have solutions and it’s absolutely time to use them.”

O’Mara adds that delay will only make the problems worse and much more costly to solve.

-Andrea Sears, Keystone State News Connection

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[ The New PA State Amphibian ]

Senate Passes Bill To Designate Hellbenders As PA’s State Amphibian And Symbol Of The Importance Of Clean Water

The Senate Wednesday overwhelmingly passed Senate Bill 658 (Yaw-R-Lycoming) 47 to 2 to designate the Eastern hellbender as Pennsylvania’s official state amphibian as a symbol of the importance of clean water in the Commonwealth.

Sen. Gene Yaw (R-Lycoming), Majority Chair of the Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee and a member of the interstate Chesapeake Bay Commission, is prime sponsor of the bill.

“They are a natural barometer of water quality and they live where the water is clean,” Sen. Yaw said, recalling days as a youngster catching hellbenders in the local creek. “If they are surviving in the streams in this area, that is a good sign for the water quality. Here is nature’s own testing kit for good water quality.”

Much of what remains of a depleted hellbender population in Pennsylvania can be found in waters within the Senator’s district, which includes Bradford, Lycoming, Sullivan, part of Susquehanna and Union counties.

The campaign on behalf of North America’s largest salamander is the brainchild of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation’s Student Leadership Council. The students have studied the hellbender extensively, wrote the first draft of Senate Bill 658, and are working for its passage.

“It’s about all species that rely on clean water, which essentially encompasses all wildlife in Pennsylvania, including us,” SLC President Anna Pauletta said of the campaign. “Being able to speak up for something that doesn’t necessarily have a voice and making impact on their survivorship through legislation.” She is a senior at Cumberland Valley High School.

Read the full story from PA Environment Digest here.

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[ Eco-friendly Vacation Destinations For 2018 ]

Looking to be more eco-conscious on your next vacation?  Blue & Green Tomorrow has a list of some fun and оffbеаt eco-friendly dеѕtіnаtіоnѕ thаt уоu ѕhоuld соnѕіdеr fоr your nеxt vacation in 2018:

  • Copenhagen:  Wіdеlу соnѕіdеrеd оnе of thе grееnеѕt, mоѕt livable сіtіеѕ in thе world, Cореnhаgеn is аn eco-tourist’s dream. Thе super-bike-friendly Dаnіѕh саріtаl wаѕ nаmеd the Eurореаn Grееn Capital, a dеѕіgnаtіоn that reflects the city’s соmmіtmеnt to efficient іnfrаѕtruсturе, green ѕрасеѕ, аnd ѕuѕtаіnаblе dеvеlорmеnt.
  • Cоѕtа Rіса:  Cоѕtа Rica іѕ a bеlоvеd trорісаl gеtаwау аnd іѕ wеll knоwn to mаnу rеѕроnѕіblе tourists. With lush rainforests, nаtіоnаl раrkѕ, and nаturе rеѕеrvеѕ, it’s a pillar оf sustainable dеvеlорmеnt wіthіn thе іntеrnаtіоnаl соmmunіtу. Thе country іѕ оn thе fоrеfrоnt оf есо-frіеndlіnеѕѕ with іtѕ nаtіоnаl rаtіng ѕуѕtеm thаt grаdеѕ lodgings оn thеіr еnvіrоnmеntаl conscientiousness.
  • Pаlаu:  Yоu саn be forgiven іf уоu’vе never hеаrd of Pаlаu, аn іѕоlаtеd аrсhіреlаgо аbоut 1,000 miles еаѕt оf the Phіlірріnеѕ. Aftеr аll, іt is home tо оnlу 20,000 реорlе аnd іt’ѕ nоt quite as bіg аѕ New Yоrk Cіtу. Pаlаu’ѕ mаrіnе rеѕеrvе, hоwеvеr, is bigger thаn Tеxаѕ and Alaska combined, and gіvеѕ рrоtесtіоn tо оnе оf thе world’s mоѕt diverse mаrіnе есоѕуѕtеmѕ.
  • Dоmіnіса:  While neighboring Saint Lucia and Bаrbаdоѕ are wеll-knоwn fоr their luxurу hotels and rеѕоrtѕ, Dоmіnіса hаѕn’t еxреrіеnсеd ѕuсh dеvеlорmеnt уеt. Hоwеvеr, thе island іѕ bесоmіng mоrе рорulаr among hіkеrѕ аnd аdvеnturеrѕ. It’ѕ probably thе wildest Caribbean іѕlаnd, wіth thісk rainforests, high wаtеrfаllѕ, milk-colored rіvеrѕ, ѕmоkу volcanoes and рrіѕtіnе соrаl reefs. The іѕlаnd іѕ becoming more ѕоlіd, есо-frіеndlу dеѕtіnаtіоn for nаturе lоvеrѕ, аnd it lооkѕ lіkе thе effort is succeeding.

Check out the full list here.

One country not on that list is the Philippines, but it might be soon because of this eco-friendly resort being planned:

“…Eco-friendly resort in the Philippines with shell-shaped hotels and rotating apartment towers.  The spiral layout of the stunning Nautilus Eco-Resort follows the Fibonacci sequence, employed by architects as a ‘golden ratio’ to create visually appealing designs.Over 500 guests will be able to stay at the resort at a time, and their accommodation will be entirely built from reused or recycled materials from the islands…

…amazingly, some visitors can expect uninterrupted rays throughout the day as the towers rotate to follow the course of the sun.  Impressively, the hotel buildings will also rise and fall as they rotate around a central coil and some of the rooms, if unused, will even disappear underground. Vincent Callebaut, 40, says his plans will help preserve the coastal area’s environment, and guests will have to either sail there or use electric boats.”

Read more about this eco-friendly resort here.

 

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[ How Much Food Do You Really Need For Thanksgiving Dinner? ]

According to the New York Post, Americans throw away roughly $165 billion in uneaten food every year, dreamstime_xs_57983005according to government data. And about $277 million of that waste will happen during Thanksgiving.

Food waste causes severe damage to the world around us, so this year plan your Thanksgiving meal using SAVETHEFOOD.com.  You can estimate how much food you really need to buy based on the amount of guests you’ll be having for your Thanksgiving feast.  Enter the appropriate data and you’ll have enough food to keep your guests happy and full!

Get started here.

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[ PA Trump Supporters Want National Monuments Protected ]

Most Trump voters in Pennsylvania think the president is doing a good job, but when it comes to protecting national monuments they have a sharply different opinion.

The president has announced that he wants to reduce the size of two national monuments that span millions of acres of wilderness in Utah. Others he’d like to open to commercial fishing, mining and grazing.

But according to David Kochel, co-founder of RABA Research, its survey of Trump voters in Pennsylvania found that 90 percent of them support preserving the size and number of monuments, or creating even more.

“The voters on the one hand support President Trump and on the other hand take a set of issues like this and say, ‘Well, that’s not exactly what I thought I was going to get or what I had in mind,'” Kochel states.

Polling of Trump voters in Ohio, Michigan and Wisconsin produced similar results.

Supporters of the president’s plan say it would help the economy by boosting industries.

But Kochel points out that more than 70 percent of those polled have visited one or more national monuments or parks such as Yellowstone, the Grand Canyon or the Statue of Liberty – and they see them as symbols of national pride.

“The ethos is very much America first,” he stresses. “We’re going to preserve our heritage, we’re going to preserve our monuments and our lands.

“They take a lot of pride in things that are uniquely American.”

Kochel adds that, even in these politically polarized times, support for national monuments is leading to coalitions that cut across the left-right divide.

A report by the president’s interior secretary, Ryan Zinke, proposed reducing the size of several national monuments and opening more for commercial extraction.

With midterm elections coming up next year, Kochel suggests this is an issue that could influence voters.

“It is something that voters would act on and it might spell a bit of trouble for some candidates who want to pursue policies like Secretary Zinke has talked about,” he points out.

-Andrea Sears, Keystone State News Connection

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[ Children Sue to Stop Climate Change ]

The federal government is ignoring the threats to life on this planet presented by climate change – that’s the claim of a lawsuit against Trump administration officials. The suit was filed in federal court in Philadelphia this week, on behalf of the Clean Air Council and two Pennsylvania children.

According to Joseph Minott, executive director and chief counsel of the Council, when Donald Trump became president, he took on the responsibility of protecting future generations from the effects of global climate change. But his executive orders and the actions of his appointed administrators are going in the opposite direction.

“They are using ‘junk science’ to undo environmental protections that were created to protect public health and the environment,” he challenges. “And that, we feel, is unconstitutional.”

President Trump has called climate change a hoax and has spearheaded a new emphasis on the development of fossil fuels, including coal and oil.

Trump is named as a defendant in the lawsuit, but Minott points out that the president isn’t acting alone.

“The people that he’s appointing in very sensitive positions are the ones that will develop the rules and regulations going forward that will impact public health and the environment,” he explains.

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt and Energy Secretary Rick Perry also are named as defendants.

The lawsuit seeks to prevent the administration from taking actions that would be likely to increase what it terms the life-threatening effects of climate change. Minott says the real science is well established.

“You don’t have a choice as to whether you want to believe it or not believe it,” he says. “And all regulations developed, all policies developed, should keep in mind the impact this will have on future generations.”

Last week, the National Climate Assessment was released, reinforcing the scientific consensus that human activity is the dominant contributor to climate change.

-Andrea Sears, Keystone State News Connection

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[ How Will You Celebrate America Recycles Day Nov. 15? ]

aaDid you know when you recycle one aluminum can enough energy is saved to power a laptop for 5.2 hours? Celebrate America Recycles Day on November 15 and learn about the power of recycling.
America Recycles Day recognizes the benefits of recycling while providing an educational platform that helps raise awareness about the value of reducing, reusing and recycling – every day – throughout the year.
To celebrate, you can–
— Hold an event in your area to educate your community on the benefits of recycling.
— Attend An America Recycles Day Event near you.
— Take the Recycling Pledge to find out about recycling in your community, reduce the amount of waste you use and buy products made with recycled content.
“Keep America Beautiful is determined to end littering, improve recycling, reduce waste, and beautify America’s communities,” said Brenda Pulley, senior vice president, recycling, Keep America Beautiful. America Recycles Day is a key fall initiative to educate, motivate, and activate individuals and entire communities to better understand what to place in recycling bins and the many environmental, economic, and social benefits of recycling.”
America Recycles Day is an educational program of Keep America Beautiful and Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful helps promote the initiative in the Commonwealth.
Visit the America Recycles Day website for more information and ideas for setting up events.
For more information about recycling in Pennsylvania, visit DEP’s Recycling webpage or contact your County Recycling Coordinator.
Also visit the Illegal Dump Free PA website for more ideas on how to clean up communities and keep them clean and KPB’s new Electronics Waste website.

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[ Prepare Now For Your Cold-Weather Energy Bills ]

As part of its 15th year of “Prepare Now” education efforts, the Public Utility Commission Thursday urged utilities to help Pennsylvania consumers who may struggle with the cost of cold-weather energy bills.

The PUC’s 2017 Prepare Now campaign continues the focus on educating consumers about the availability of low-income programs; increasing awareness of ways to reduce winter heating costs; educating consumers on energy conservation; encouraging consumers to check electric and natural gas bills and supplier contracts; and informing consumers about PAPowerSwitch.com and PAGasSwitch.com as resources to shop for energy suppliers and learn more about efficiency and conservation measures.

Read the full story from PA Environment Digest here.

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[ Sustainable Seafood At Your Favorite Restaurant ]

Oceana recently posted an article about Smart Catch: A program from the James Beard Foundation that educates dreamstime_xs_101415995chefs about ocean-friendly seafood:

Smart Catch began two years ago in Seattle, as the brainchild of Microsoft cofounder Paul G. Allen, in collaboration with the James Beard Foundation and the nonprofit FishChoice, which connects seafood buyers to sustainable suppliers. The program was Seattle-based and included about 60 chefs until this summer, when it expanded nationally. Now, more than 300 chefs are involved.

Any professional chef can join Smart Catch, to help his or her restaurant become more sustainable. It’s free online through the FishChoice website. Every three months, chefs submit information about the seafood they serve, where and how each species was caught and how much of each they buy. Then FishChoice assesses each restaurant based on recommendations from the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch program, as well as the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Chefs can talk with a sustainable seafood expert to identify problems with their menu and find alternatives. Essentially, it’s a green audit.

Read the full story from Oceana here.

 

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