Climate Platform

Pennsylvania is at the epicenter of the climate crisis. The state is a massive contributor to the nation’s carbon emissions, and it is home to a variety of frontline communities and displaced fossil fuel workers. Every day, toxic sites and other features of the state’s high-carbon legacy are damaging lives and livelihoods. That’s why we need bold action in these four areas to address the climate crisis and transform our Commonwealth’s infrastructure.

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1. Clean Transportation for All: Maximize Use of Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act Funds for Equitable, Climate-Friendly Transportation Options

Transportation plays a central role in deciding who has access to jobs, health care, education, and other basic needs. Transportation currently accounts for almost a quarter of Pennsylvania’s greenhouse gas emissions, so it is vital that we make our transit systems as green and efficient as possible. Not only does SEPTA face a post-COVID fiscal cliff in 2025 that must be addressed immediately, but it is already under-funded compared to peer transit systems in the region. The bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) is sending the Commonwealth billions of dollars for transportation infrastructure, but the law gives states flexibility in how much to spend on highways versus other forms of mobility. The state needs to prioritize funding for public transit, bicycle infrastructure, and safe streets to bring mobility to people who have been left behind by endless highway expansion.

2. Leverage the IRA to Decarbonize

There are billions of federal dollars available through the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) to decarbonize our economy. The state should take full advantage of these funds to build clean energy, bring new jobs to the region, and invest in communities on the frontlines of the climate crisis. In 2023, Pennsylvania ranked 45th in terms of energy production from wind, solar and hydro with those renewable sources making up only 3% of the electricity system. The state must massively increase its clean energy production and make sure that the transition is affordable and equitable for Pennsylvanians while creating high quality jobs. The IRA offers huge incentives to decarbonize, and the Commonwealth should take full advantage of this generational opportunity to lead the energy transition.

3. Fight for Utility Justice

Heating in the winter and cooling in the summer, water to cook with and drink, and access to the internet are all critical to every Pennsylvanian. However, the cost of living crisis has made paying for these basic services harder and harder, especially in Philadelphia. 17% of low income households in Pennsylvania experienced energy shutoffs in 2019. As climate change makes extreme heat and storms all the more prevalent, shutoffs for electricity, gas, water, and broadband must be permanently stopped; we need to make sure that every household has access to these vital services.

4. Transition off Fossil Fuels

A clean, safe future for all means phasing out fossil fuels. Pennsylvania is the third largest fossil fuel supplier in the country. Fossil fuel infrastructure – from the pipelines stretching across the state to the gas stoves in our kitchens – creates public health and safety risks. The state needs a plan to transition off of fossil fuels and keep communities healthy and whole. We must ensure a just transition for the hardworking Pennsylvanians who have worked for the fossil fuel industries over the decades.

Please stay tuned in the coming weeks for more of Nikil’s plans, which’ll address major issues impacting our communities.

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