FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, Nov. 10, 2009
HARRISBURG, PA – The Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry today said sound science, unbiased economic analysis and a diversity of viewpoints are missing from Pennsylvania’s draft Climate Change Action Plan, while the Climate Change Advisory Committee (CCAC) process failed to follow the legislative intent of Act 70 of 2008.
Act 70 of 2008 authorized the creation of an advisory committee to develop state-specific recommendations for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The final plan will be delivered to the General Assembly on Dec. 18. The PA Chamber submitted official comments on the draft plan on Nov. 9, the end of a 30-day public comment period.
The PA Chamber recognized the hard work of the CCAC and acknowledged a number of good suggestions that warrant legislative consideration independent of any climate change concerns. Many of these suggestions represent sustainable practices that should be considered from a conservation standpoint, particularly some of the measures regarding energy conservation and the use of waste materials as an energy source.
However, the Chamber drew attention to several shortcomings of the draft recommendations.
"The PA Chamber and other organizations were able to support the carefully crafted Act 70 because the law assured a fair and open process," said Floyd Warner, president of the PA Chamber. "Unfortunately, the process did not follow the parameters established in the law. This was frustrating to those members of the committee that had expectations for a thorough, free dialogue about an issue that could have significant economic implications for the Commonwealth."
In addition, Warner said the Impacts and Economic Opportunities Report that preceded the draft plan failed to fully reflect a diversity of opinion among various entities and the scientific community. That report also failed to acknowledge any significant uncertainties about the impact of climate change, another requirement of Act 70.
"Without a good economic analysis, the legislature is left without the necessary tools to make important public policy judgments," Warner noted.
As part of its official comments on the draft impacts assessment report, the PA Chamber commissioned an independent third-party review by Dr. Margo Thorning, Ph.D., senior vice president and chief economist with the American Council for Capital Formation. Thorning also concluded that the state’s draft impact assessment report failed to broadly consider voices and evidence that may give legislators pause.
"In effect, it has argued the merits of only one side and the effect is of essentially talking the state into a predetermined position. This sin of omission may leave Pennsylvania paying the price," Thorning wrote.
Warner reiterated PA Chamber members’ position that climate change is best addressed at the national and international level in order to have any practical effect.
"Greenhouse gasses do not respect state or national borders," he said. "Any legislative actions taken to address climate change, particularly absent actions by other nations, will have significant implications for economic growth and job creation, while potentially having no measurable environmental benefit."
In the end, Warner said because of the flawed process, what could have been a helpful management tool for the legislature became window dressing to support preconceived regulatory programs that DEP would like to implement.
The PA Chamber’s official comments are available at www.pachamber.org.
The PA Chamber is the state’s largest broad-based business advocacy organization, serving more than 24,000 members and customers statewide. PA Chamber membership includes businesses of all sizes and across all industry sectors. The PA Chamber is The Statewide Voice of Business