A right to clean air, pure water, and to the preservation of the natural, scenic, historic and esthetic values of the environment.

Ferguson Township’s Board of Supervisors is protecting your water and working for the draw down of emissions to ensure our future climate security. Last night, we took action that shows that we are serious about our Home Rule Charter, our Community and Environmental Bill of Rights, and our commitment to Pennsylvania’s Green Amendment, Article 1, Section 27.

First, passed a Source Water Protection Overlay district. This zoning district covers the township, recognizes climate change as a distinct threat to the township’s source waters, provides a mechanism for precaution where new technologies are used that can negatively impact our water, ensures more oversight of a number of materials and land uses, and prohibits fracking operations, oil and gas injection wells, and liquid petroleum pipeline. In short, this zoning district was created to protect the good health, well-being, vitality, and legacy of Ferguson Township.

We also joined a petition to get Pennsylvania DEP to put a carbon Cap and Trade system in place. I did this for a number of reasons. Economists say we should price carbon. We have a constitutional duty that aligns with our Home Rule Charter. The cap and trade will work and, moreover, address a structural imbalance in the Pennsylvania budget. And we are joining good company.

First, economists are in broad agreement that the most efficient way to reduce greenhouse emissions is to put a price on them. In doing so, it drives up the price of dirty energy and other sources of greenhouse gas emissions while not affecting zero carbon sources of energy such as solar and wind.

Second, the proposed regulation follows the constitutional call for clean air, pure water, and the preservation of the natural, scenic, historic and esthetic values of the environment” in Article 1, Section 27. This board has embraced this Article throughout our tenure together.

Third, the Environmental Quality Board is empowered to regulate these emissions by the Supreme Court’s ruling on See Massachusetts v. EPA, 549 U.S. 497, 528-530 (2007) and the Air Pollution Control Act section 4005. Additionally, it aligns with Governor Wolf’s recent signing of Executive Order 2019-01 that seeks to reduce Pennsylvania emissions by 80% by 2050.

Fourth, cap begins at current emissions and lowers by 3% per year until PA reaches zero emissions from those sources, projected at 2052. At the same time that the cap comes down, the price per metric ton of carbon rises by 10% a year until it would meet the California price. It will begin at $10/ton. The allowances for the trading would be auctioned on a regular basis. Note: biogenic sources of greenhouse gases will not be included.

Fifth, the petitioners note that Pennsylvania has a “structural imbalance.” They write, “The most recent report of the Pennsylvania Independent Fiscal Office has concluded that there is a “structural imbalance” in the Pennsylvania budget.263 That report predicts a budget deficit of $1.709 billion for fiscal year 2018-2019, with the deficit ranging from a low of 1.446 billion to 1.750 billion over the next four fiscal years. 264 The revenue that this program will generate will alleviate and likely eliminate that structural deficit, removing the need to increase taxes on productive activities. Application of the 2020 reserve price (§ 147.211)265 and budget (91% of 2016 emissions) using the 2016 carbon dioxide emissions from the U.S. Energy Information System266 would produce a maximum and inflated revenue figure of $1.978 billion.

Sixth, the list of petitioners includes the Clean Air Council, the Commonwealth Law School Environmental Law and Sustainability Center at Widener Law School, Physicians for Social Responsibility of Pennsylvania, and a number of others including Marlborough Township. It would be great to have our board join them.

It was a good night.

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