How far, far apart We The People of PA are on Climate

Sept 25 UPDATE 

My testimony at a DEP listening session in Harrisburg was a summation of the below narrative.  It is significant to note that Vince Brisini, who’s testimony I take issue with, chaired that session.

DEP Testimony 0914

There were tons of lobbyists there, with predictable testimony.  One paid talking head testified (before I testified for free, on my own time) that we must continue to burn coal refuse (tailing or boney piles), or we risk pollution from them spontaneously combusting.  Yep, with a straight face.

Immediately afterward, a bunch of us walked over to see Senator Casey to ask for his support of the EPA proposed Clean Power Plan.  He hasn’t made a public position statement yet, but he is a key ally.

PennFuture and Friends at Sen Casey's

PennFuture and Friends at Sen Casey’s


On July 31, The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) held a hearing on proposed limits for carbon pollution from existing power plants. The EPA’s proposed Clean Power Plan would cut carbon emissions by up to 30 percent by 2030. Pittsburgh Business Times reports that “EPA officials said they had already received 300,000 comments before the start of the hearing.”

There is no greater example of how far, far apart We The People are on this issue than a comparison of my own Commonwealth’s regulatory agency’s position and my own.

I have read DEP Deputy Secretary Vincent Brisini’s EPA Testimony:

Vince Brisini’s EPA Testimony

I also offered my testimony at that hearing, as a professional civil/environmental engineer. Brisini’s is a little different than mine was:

Steve Todd’s EPA Testimony

It is staggering that Deputy Brisini offers little argument against the soundness of the environmental protection aspects of EPA’s new standards. He makes largely political, legal and economic arguments. While those need heard, it is unnerving that DEP choses to use its testimony to make them primarily. Brisini never claims EPA standards won’t protect our air, dirt and water. Only that it might not respect our state’s power, or cost certain industries to do so. This tendency – of our DEP making economic arguments over, and often in complete absence of, environmental protection issues is so typical of late that it is becoming embarrassing to PA.

The third full paragraph, begins with “Pennsylvania questions EPA’s authority to…” As a citizen of PA with every bit as much sovereignty (no more, but no less) than Brisini, I submit that his opening should read “PaDEP questions EPA’s authority to…”, or perhaps “The current Administration questions EPA’s authority to…” PA citizens do not, by and large question EPA’s authority. We tend to know that EPA delegates regulatory authority to DEP, and that EPA can indeed rescind that delegation.

In that paragraph, Brisini declares the new EPA standards will “establish programs that are more related to achieving desired social and economic outcomes rather than developing and implementing performance standards to achieve emission reductions from existing units.” This is unbelievably arrogant, doubly so from a person in a position that should know better. While the standard may affect socio-economic outcomes, its sole intention is to reduce emissions. If we could burn coal without the tremendous harm it produces, I would never oppose it. I doubt many would, and further doubt that EPA would either.

This reversed logic continues. Brisini testifies that EPA is moving to “establishment of an overarching energy policy that picks winners and losers in the marketplace…in a manner that manipulates the free market…” Unless those profiting are to begin funding the 24/7 global military presence, manipulating the market is the only thing that keep fossil fuels even viable as an energy source. We have forever picked fossil fuels as the winner, but only at tremendous cost to each person. And now, at tremendous and almost certainly catastrophic, cost to Earth.

Brisini’s call for “the need for EPA to recognize state leadership and authority to regulate pollutants within their borders,” is a terrible idea for all citizens of Earth. Only governments, and humans when made to, recognize borders of human creation. Pollution can not and does not. States must only be free to self-regulate inasmuch as it is effective in keeping all pollution inside said artificial borders. This is, of course, not possible.

Brisini recognizes “that the proposed emission reduction goals for Pennsylvania cannot be achieved solely by inside-the-fence-line improvements at existing fossil fuel-fired EGUs,” but goes on to wrongly state that such improvement “is the only legal method to achieve these CO2 emission reductions.” What makes DEP think no other method of compliance is legal is too baffling to even retort to. I used to work there, and at least at that time, DEP had considerable in-house legal council.

He again wrongly identifies the Commonwealth of PA as the entity which “does not believe that environmental agencies should regulate or influence energy markets.” I submit, again, that it is the Corbett Administration’s DEP who does not believe this. PA people who eat, breathe and drink here most certainly DO believe that environmental agencies should regulate energy markets. I hope that we also believe our DEP executives should hold similar beliefs, and believe many of us find it surprising that at least this one does not.

What is our recourse, when those paid of, by and for us to protect our environment drive 3 hours each way to testify about state/federal jurisdictions and economic impact?


Me at the demonstration outside EPA Hearings on carbon dioxide regulations, after my testimony. I am in the middle of a little back and forth with a couple thousand coal miners who want to keep mining coal, which has been documented to be killing our kids.

Steve Todd at #ActOnClimate July 31, 2014

Steve Todd at #ActOnClimate July 31, 2014 – Photo Credit: Gene J. Puskar, AP

Scary? Very. I am very scared of leaving my 12 yr old an unlivable planet. Why else would I go over 3 hours away to confront folks who from all appearance would rather I die than testify in support of EPA’s regulation of our air?

Attend the “Largest Climate March in History”

In September, world leaders are coming to New York City for a UN summit on the climate crisis. To change everything, we need everyone on board. Sunday, September 21 in New York City.  Join us, and together, we’ll take to the streets to demand the world we know is within our reach: a world with an economy that works for people and the planet.

Here is the People’s Climate March Route:

People's Climate March Route

People’s Climate March Route

How big is this, and how fast is it growing? Thanks almost solely to social media (quick, when was the last time you heard about this on MainStream Media),

As of Aug 1:

10,700 going
3,300 maybe
171,200 invited

As of Sept 20 evening:

26,500 going
6,500 maybe
295,600 invited

Actual Count on March Day, Sept 21:

310,000 Went!

How big are we?

How big are we?

Keep spreading the word. To change everything, we need everyone…against The Political Class.

Sept 22 UPDATE:

Here we are!

Anita and Steve at the Climate March

Anita and Steve at the Climate March (Photo Credit: Peter Bowden / UU Planet)


About steventodd

Both parties are broken by big money...what to do? I'm a dad, husband, son, taxpayer, voter, civil engineer, reporter, blogger, rabble-rouser and honest guy.
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2 Responses to How far, far apart We The People of PA are on Climate

  1. wolfhheinl says:

    Shared. Thanks for trying Steven. I wrote this some years ago and now take a more active roll via social media:


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