Clean Energy is Cutting Carbon, But Pennsylvania Lags


For Immediate Release

Contact: Elowyn Corby, PennEnvironment Global Warming & Clean Energy Associate, (831) 359-2561


New Report: Clean Energy Is Cutting Carbon, But Pennsylvania Lags


Harrisburg, PA – As public concern about extreme weather ramps up, clean energy policies in Pennsylvania and around the nation are proving that we have the tools we need to win the fight against global warming. While Pennsylvania’s clean energy policies – like the Alternative Energy Portfolio Standard and our state’s energy efficiency requirements – are already reducing carbon pollution, there is significant progress to be made compared to other state’s efforts according to a new PennEnvironment report, “Moving America Forward.”

The report shows that Pennsylvania could be playing a much larger role in reducing carbon pollution by strengthening Pennsylvania’s energy policies, laying the foundation for meeting forthcoming national carbon emissions standards.

“By using energy more efficiently, and by generating more power from clean, renewable sources, we can deliver a one-two punch in the fight against global warming,” said Elowyn Corby, Global Warming and Clean Energy Associate with PennEnvironment. “We have what it takes to protect our children and future generations from the worst impacts of climate change. Now, we need to strengthen our state policies and set firm limits on carbon pollution in order to deliver a knockout blow.”

Representative Greg Vitali, of Pennsylvania’s 166th district, explained that “we must rapidly transition from fossil fuels like coal, oil and natural gas to renewable forms of energy like wind, solar and geothermal. The most effective thing Pennsylvania can do to expand its use of renewable energy is to amend The Alternative Energy Portfolio Standards Act to increase the amount of electricity from renewable sources that electric distribution companies must provide to their customers.”

Scientists say extreme weather like Superstorm Sandy foreshadows what could be a new normal of weather extremes, threatening our children and future generations unless there is more action on climate, including increases to clean energy in the states.

“We have an opportunity in Pennsylvania to produce more clean, renewable energy close to home, while reducing our local contribution to global climate disruption and bringing good jobs to our communities,” stated Joanne Kilgour, Director of the Sierra Club PA Chapter. “Over the past few years, we have not taken full advantage of this opportunity, and we cannot afford further inaction. It is time to demonstrate forward-thinking bipartisan support for clean energy.”

As well as highlighting state policies that can help address climate change, PennEnvironment pointed to the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) plan to move forward with limits on carbon pollution from power plants as the next step to fight global warming and shift to clean energy. Coal- and gas-fired power plants are America’s largest source of the carbon pollution fueling global warming. Right now EPA limits arsenic, lead, soot and other pollution from power plants – but not carbon pollution. Power plants are Pennsylvania’s largest source of the pollution that is fueling global warming, and account for about 47 percent of the state’s total carbon pollution.

Key findings from the report include:

  • Renewable electricity standards have helped Pennsylvania develop enough renewable energy to offset as much carbon pollution as 212,500 cars produce in a year.
  • Energy efficiency policies have helped avoid as much carbon pollution as more than 454,000 cars produce in a year.
  • The success of clean energy policies has proven that investing in renewable energy and energy efficiency can cut carbon pollution, and could help Pennsylvania meet federal carbon standards.

Corby pointed to opposition from power companies, the coal industry, and other big polluters as a roadblock to action. Already, groups from the American Petroleum Institute to the National Mining Association have launched campaigns to block or undermine federal carbon limits. But environmental champions in Harrisburg including Representative Greg Vitali and Senator Daylin Leach are leading the charge to increase clean energy in the state, and make sure Pennsylvania is on the right track.

“With enough willpower, Pennsylvania can rise to any challenge. We’ve seen that climate solutions work – now it’s time for the next round,” Corby concluded. “Our leaders can start by increasing clean energy here at home, and supporting the EPA’s plan to limit carbon pollution from power plants.” 


PennEnvironment is a statewide, citizen based environmental advocacy group dedicated to protecting our air, water, and open spaces. To learn more, visit