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Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Corbett Is missing the boat, and we'll pay the price

Four former Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrators recently wrote an Op-Ed for the New York Times. If Governor Tom Corbett missed it, he needs to read it.

The subject was climate change. The four writers, William Ruckelshaus, Lee Thomas, William Reilly and Christine Todd Whitman, all headed the EPA under Republican presidents - Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, George Bush, and George W. Bush, none of whom are light weights when it comes to conservative credentials. The Op-Ed makes several important points.

First, science does not support the claims of climate change deniers.
"There is no longer any credible scientific debate about the basic facts: Our world continues to warm, with the last decade the hottest in modern records, and the deep ocean is warming faster than the earth’s atmosphere. Sea levels are rising. Arctic Sea ice is melting years faster than projected."
Second, inaction on climate change has real costs, and we do not have time to wait.
"The costs of inaction are undeniable. The lines of scientific evidence grow only stronger and more numerous. And the window of time remaining to act is growing smaller: Delay could mean that warming becomes 'locked in.'"
Third, protection of the environment and public health has always been a conservative value.
"As administrators of the E.P.A ... we held fast to common-sense conservative principles — protecting the health of the American people, working with the best technology available and trusting in the innovation of American business and in the market to find the best solutions for the least cost.
That approach helped us tackle major environmental challenges to our nation and the world: The pollution of our rivers, dramatized when the Cuyahoga River in Cleveland caught fire in 1969; the hole in the ozone layer; and the devastation wrought by acid rain."
Fourth, conservatives should support President Obama's climate action plan to cut carbon emissions and invest in renewable resources.
"[P]resident Obama’s June climate action plan lays out achievable actions that would deliver real progress. He will use his executive powers to require reductions in the amount of carbon dioxide emitted by the nation’s power plants and spur increased investment in clean energy technology, which is inarguably the path we must follow to ensure a strong economy along with a livable climate."
Finally, action on climate change will promote and not harm the economy.
"We can have both a strong economy and a livable climate. All parties know that we need both. The rest of the discussion is either detail, which we can resolve, or purposeful delay, which we should not tolerate.       
[W]e must continue efforts to reduce the climate-altering pollutants that threaten our planet. The only uncertainty about our warming world is how bad the changes will get, and how soon. What is most clear is that there is no time to waste."
Regrettably, the administration in Harrisburg doesn't get it when it comes to climate change. Governor Corbett dodges questions about whether he believes in global warming, and seemingly lacks serious concern about the consequences of not taking action on climate change. Instead of working to cut carbon emissions and invest in clean energy technology, the Governor rejects any new investments in renewable power, all the while offering billions of dollars in subsidies to coal and gas interests.

In the words of four Republican EPA Administrators:
"[W]e must continue efforts to reduce the climate-altering pollutants that threaten our planet. The only uncertainty about our warming world is how bad the changes will get, and how soon. What is most clear is that there is no time to waste."
Should Governor Corbett continue to hide his head in the sand on climate change, Pennsylvanians will undoubtedly pay the price.