As people around Pennsylvania and the nation prepare to celebrate Earth Day, the stakes have never been higher.
Rising global emissions have brought us to the brink of climate disaster, as even more frequent and severe storms, hurricanes, and tornadoes are threatening homes and businesses with flooding and destruction. At the same time, communities across Pennsylvania continue to struggle with the legacy of our industrial past – from the PFAS chemicals that threaten the water supply in suburban towns, to the aging lead water pipes that pose particular dangers for children in our cities.
In many respects, Bucks County is at the forefront of the fight to confront these challenges.
Long-treasured for its natural beauty and focus on protecting open space and agricultural land, families in Bucks County are nevertheless threatened by the impacts of climate change and pollution.
The county is also a political bellwether in the nation’s most critical swing state. And we’re in a unique moment for our environment, even as President Biden continues to fight to pass landmark climate and environmental legislation that would tackle many of these crises by investing in good-paying union jobs to build a new, 21st Century economy powered by clean energy.
In this historic time, I’m proud to begin a new, monthly column for the Bucks County Beacon.
In it, I hope to focus on the intersection of environmental policy and local, state and national politics and highlight how key environmental issues play out in Bucks County and across Southeastern Pennsylvania.
Our organization, Conservation Voters of Pennsylvania, is at the forefront of protecting the environment, health, and welfare of Pennsylvania families.
We have invested millions of dollars to elect environmental champions at every level of state and local government and support policies in Pennsylvania and Washington D.C. that create jobs and stimulate economic growth by ensuring that we all have access to clean air, pure water, and open space.
Over the past few years, we have made important strides in environmental protection. We have fought, along with Governor Wolf, for Pennsylvania to join the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, a regional cooperative among Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states to reduce carbon pollution from the energy sector while providing funding to lower energy costs for seniors and local businesses.
Once we’re successful, Pennsylvania will be the only oil and gas producing state to join this inter-state agreement, putting us front and center of efforts to build a new 21st century economy powered by green, renewable energy. Our success will accelerate the transition from dirty fossil fuels that aggravate asthma and other respiratory and cardiac diseases in counties like Bucks, where the air quality is rated an “F” by the American Lung Association.
We are also working hard to invest in Pennsylvania’s open spaces through the proposed Growing Greener III program, which would provide funds to preserve open space and agricultural land, upgrade trail infrastructure and address a years-long backlog in our parks. This program has bipartisan support in Harrisburg and would greatly benefit Bucks County.
At the same time, we continue to fight for passage of President Biden’s climate and jobs plan – a transformative investment of more than half a trillion dollars to create jobs by expanding renewable energy, such as solar and wind, weatherizing aging buildings to lower energy costs, and expand access to American-made electric vehicles. While a version of this plan was passed by the U.S. House of Representatives last year, it still must pass the Senate.
With Earth Day almost upon us, it’s more important than ever that our elected leaders understand the real impact these environmental policies have on the communities they serve. And that’s why we’re going to keep you up to date on all the developments around environmental protection that affect the residents of Bucks County. In the meantime, please visit our website at ConservationPA.org to learn more about our work and become an advocate for environmental change in your community.