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Bipartisan Group Of Legislators Reintroduces Bills To Get PA 100% Powered By Renewable Energy

Emma Lee
Patrick Whittaker of Solar States installs solar panels on the roof of a home in Bryn Mawr.

A bipartisan group of state legislators is re-introducing a pair bills aimed at getting Pennsylvania to have 100 percent renewable energy by 2050.

Rep. Chris Rabb (D-Philadelphia) sponsors the House version, HB 1425, and said climate science makes it clear action is needed.

“Most people believe in science—perhaps most people in this building,” Rabb said, referring to the state Capitol. “What does the science say? It says we are really pushing it.”

Pennsylvania is already experiencing disruptions from the warming climate, including more precipitation and extreme weather. For example, average annual precipitation in the state has increased by about 10 percent since the early 20th century and is projected to increase another 8 percent by the middle of the century.

Sen. Tom Killion (R- Chester) is sponsoring the Senate version of the bill. He said he will be in his 90s by the time 2050 rolls around, but mentioned his children and grandchildren as one of the reasons he’s getting behind the measures — noting climate change is not a partisan issue.

“It’s not just about the environment. It’s about jobs,” Killion said. “These are great, high-paying jobs we can create by going to renewable energy.”

The measures include language creating a Just Transition Community Advisory Committee, to help ensure workers displaced from fossil fuel industries find new jobs.

The bills’ supporters acknowledge the chance of passage remains unlikely in Pennsylvania’s current political landscape. Similar measures failed to advance last year. Among U.S. states, Pennsylvania ranks second and third for production of natural gas and coal, respectively.

Gov. Tom Wolf, a Democrat, unveiled a climate action plan last week that aims to reduce emissions 80 percent from 2005 levels by 2050, and he has called climate change, “one of the big issues we have to deal with.”

His office did not respond to a request seeking comment on the renewable energy bills Tuesday. Spokespeople for the House and Senate Republicans, which hold the majorities in the legislature, also did not respond to requests for comment on the measures.

This storyis produced in partnership with StateImpact Pennsylvania, a collaboration among WESA, The Allegheny Front, WITF and WHYY.