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Bucks County Towns Should Celebrate Earth Month by Promoting Clean Energy Policies

We need to marshal the resources at every level of government, and private business, to truly transition to a green economy powered by clean, renewable energy.
climate action bucks county
Photo courtesy of Bucks Free Press.

April is Earth Month, the time of the year where we take stock of what we have done to advance the cause of conservation. 

While national fights around President Biden’s historic Inflation Reduction Act are critically important, it’s also essential to focus on what we can do at the state and local level to protect our environment and tackle the existential threat posed by climate change. 

We know that the federal government alone can’t solve the problem of climate change. We need to marshal the resources at every level of government, and private business, to truly transition to a green economy powered by clean, renewable energy. 

On the state level, we’re encouraged that Governor Josh Shapiro is drawing up plans to spend the proceeds of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, a multi-state effort to curb climate pollution. 

While we’re awaiting a final ruling from the courts about Pennsylvania’s participation in this program, it’s important that the administration is already considering ways to maximize the benefits of the program. 

If properly implemented, RGGI will lower energy costs for businesses and families and create jobs even as we fight climate change. 

We need to move past years of contentious litigation by legislative Republicans, and spurred on by the oil and gas industry, and move toward implementing RGGI to make Pennsylvania a leader in a growing clean energy economy that will create jobs and drive economic prosperity to communities across our commonwealth. 

At the same time, we need additional action at the county and local levels. 

In Bucks County, which has a long tradition of conservation and environmental protection, the Bucks County commissioners have released a model sustainability and alternative energy ordinance that should become a major priority of our local elected officials. 

This ordinance would position municipalities across the county to be on the forefront of conservation. 

It would hasten the growth of clean energy across the county by establishing zoning rules that remove unnecessary obstacles for new solar facilities, geothermal energy and wind systems. 

At the same time, this model ordinance promotes green building practices – helping to reduce a major source of carbon pollution. 

The ordinance incentivizes the construction of energy efficient buildings and the use of energy efficient construction techniques while also encouraging builders to incorporate hookups for renewable energy in future buildings. 

It even ensures that new streets are oriented in ways that reduce heating and cooling costs by positioning future development to take natural advantage of the sun. 

We know that these practices, if fully adopted, could significantly reduce carbon emissions, and we’re grateful for the county commissioners for taking the lead on developing this model ordinance. 

However, under Pennsylvania’s system of government local municipalities are in charge of these types of land use decisions, and it’s up to each town in the county to adopt this model ordinance. If towns don’t, then this ordinance will remain just words on a page. 

Adoption of an ordinance like this is even more important now because it will help families and businesses leverage the billions of dollars of federal investments included in the Inflation Reduction Act, the landmark climate legislation President Biden signed last year. 

Thanks to the Inflation Reduction Act, families can take advantage of federal tax credits to install renewable energy systems, purchase energy efficient appliances and adopt strategies to reduce energy consumption – all practices that are further encouraged by this model ordinance. 

Unfortunately, only about half of the towns in Bucks County have actually adopted this ordinance.

This Earth Month, it’s up to all of us to talk to our elected officials about the importance of clean energy and environmental protection to preserving our way of life in Bucks County. 

We need to encourage our local elected officials to make conservation a priority by immediately moving to adopt this model ordinance. This is especially true in an election year, where we should make support of strong conservation policies like this a major part of campaigns for local office. 

We want every municipality in Bucks County adopting this ordinance by the time next year’s Earth Month observance comes around. 

That achievement will be the clearest sign yet that our elected leaders in Bucks County are prioritizing conservation as we plan for a future powered by clean energy.

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Picture of Molly Parzen

Molly Parzen

Molly Parzen is Executive Director of Conservation Voters of Pennsylvania, a statewide environmental advocacy group.

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