Those for and against the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan pleaded their cases to state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) officials this week at the first public hearing aimed at figuring out how Pennsylvania will meet tough new carbon emission limits.

Under the plan, each state has a different goal that, in theory, will contribute to the 2030 goal of the U.S. cutting carbon dioxide emissions from power plants 32 percent below 2005 levels.

Pennsylvania must cut 33 percent of its carbon emissions from 2012 levels within 15 years.

In energy-rich Pennsylvania, much of the attention is being focused on how the coal, natural gas and renewables industries will address making the reductions.

The state’s plan is due to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) by September 2016 and the state has said it needs help crafting the plan. The DEP has 14 “listening sessions” planned over a two-month stretch across the state to gather public comment on how to implement the plan.

PublicSource media partners had reporters at the first meeting held in Harrisburg on Sept. 15.

From StateImpact PA:

Twenty-seven speakers representing interests ranging from job creation to clean air, building standards and environmental justice gave a succession of five-minute speeches urging officials from the state Department of Environmental Protection to take their causes into account in its compliance plan – and in a few cases, called for its rejection…

Most speakers backed the federal plan, and urged the DEP to comply by increasing the use of renewable fuels and boosting energy efficiency. Several supporters said the state should not include natural gas in its compliance plan because of concerns over its leakage of methane, a potent greenhouse gas.

DEP Secretary John Quigley said the EPA plan is “ambitious, but achievable” and called attention to the fact that Pennsylvania exports more electric power than any other state; is the second largest generator of electricity; and is now the second largest natural gas-producing state, according to the article.

He pledged that the [natural gas] industry’s interests would be an important part of the compliance plan.

“They are going to play a role in our thinking as we develop the Clean Power Plan,” he said.

The EPA plan requires states to engage low-income and vulnerable communities in having discussions about the Clean Power Plan. Quigley said the DEP will hold 10 of 14 public hearings in areas where 20 percent or more of the population lives in poverty.

An NAACP official at the hearing said that 71 percent of the state’s black population live in communities that fail to meet federal air quality standards, according to the article.

The DEP is accepting public comments at hearings and online until Nov. 12.

Here’s a list of the remaining 13 hearing dates:

  • September 21, 2015: Allegheny County 6:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m. Carnegie Mellon University Roberts Hall – Singleton Room 4th Floor, 5000 Forbes Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15213
  • September 22, 2015: Cambria County 9:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. Conference Center at University of Pittsburgh – Johnstown Heritage Hall A, 450 Schoolhouse Road, Johnstown, PA 15904
  • September 22, 2015: Greene County 6:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m. Waynesburg Central High School Auditorium, 30 Zimmerman Drive, Waynesburg, PA 15370
  • September 28, 2015: Luzerne County 6:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m. Wilkes University Henry Student Center Ballroom, 2nd Floor, 84 West South Street, Wilkes-Barre, PA  18701
  • September 30, 2015: Philadelphia County 1:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. University of Pennsylvania Kleinman Center Fisher Fine Arts Building, Room 401220, South 34th Street Philadelphia, PA 19104
  • September 30, 2015: Delaware County 6:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.Marcus Hook Community Center, 7 West Delaware Avenue, Marcus Hook, PA 19061 
  • October 5, 2015: York County 2:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m. Wyndham Garden York White Rose Event Center Crystal Ballroom, 2000 Loucks Road York, PA 17408
  • October 22, 2015: Lehigh County 6:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m. Muhlenberg College Trumbower, 130 2238 Chew Street, Allentown, PA 18104
  • October 28, 2015: Schuylkill County 6:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m. Penn State Schuylkill John E. Morgan Auditorium, 200 University Drive, Schuylkill Haven, PA 17972
  • October 29, 2015: Erie County 6:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m. Hirt Auditorium at Blasco Library,160 East Front Street Erie, PA 16507
  • October 30, 2015: Clarion County 9:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. Clarion University, corner of Payne St & Wilson Ave., Clarion, PA 16214
  • October 30, 2015: Clearfield County 2:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m. Penn State Dubois 7 Hiller Building – Auditorium, One College Place, Dubois, PA 15801
  • November 4, 2015: Lycoming County 6:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m. Penn College – Williamsport Mountain Laurel Room, One College Avenue, Williamsport, PA 17701

Reach Natasha Khan at 412-315-0261 or Follow her on Twitter @khantasha.

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