PA Climate Change Advisory Committee and PADEP Move Forward on Act 70 Work

May 8, 2009
Client Alert Newsletter May 2009

Over the past few months, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection ("PADEP") and the Climate Change Advisory Committee ("CCAC") have continued to make progress on the deliverables required by the Pennsylvania Climate Change Act ("Act 70"). For example, at its February 27, 2009 meeting, the CCAC approved the study of dozens of additional climate change "work plans" that suggest greenhouse gas reduction measures for many Pennsylvania businesses, including those in the energy, real estate development, transportation, waste, and agriculture industries. A more detailed list of the new work plans can be found here.

The current schedule envisions that between now and the end of June, the appropriate CCAC subcommittees will evaluate each of these new work plans (plus the other work plans previously proposed by PADEP) with the help of Climate Change Strategies, a consultant hired by PADEP, and then make recommendations to the full CCAC. The full CCAC will then consider the work plans coming out of the subcommittees through the middle of July and make final work plan recommendations to PADEP. PADEP, in turn, will integrate these recommendations into the Climate Change Action Plan that PADEP is required to develop and submit to the General Assembly and the Governor under Act 70 by October 9, 2009.

The issue of public involvement in the development of the Climate Change Action Plan has been a point of discussion at every recent CCAC meeting. As currently conceived, there will be discrete opportunities for public involvement at the CCAC subcommittee level as part of the work plan evaluation process. Each of the subcommittees will be allowed to receive input from outside "experts" on the various work plans during their scheduled meetings and conference calls. These "experts" generally are members of the public that have been approved by PADEP and the CCAC subcommittee to participate in the subcommittee process as a result of demonstrated interest and expertise in the subject area. Once the subcommittees' work is complete, however, the next official opportunity for substantive public comment on the Action Plan will be after PADEP submits the Action Plan to the General Assembly and the Governor. PADEP intends to collect the comments at that time and subsequently provide a response document to the General Assembly and the Governor.

Another requirement of Act 70 is for PADEP to produce by April 9, 2009, a report on the potential impacts and economic opportunities associated with climate change in the Commonwealth. PADEP previously hired a group at Penn State to produce this "Impacts Assessment" and a draft of the 300 plus page report was released for public comment on April 17, 2009. The document uses global climate models to assess impacts on specific areas outlined in Act 70, such as temperature and precipitation, human health, the economy and management of risk, forests, wildlife, fisheries, recreation, agriculture, tourism, and the opportunities resulting from alternative energy needs, carbon capture and sequestration technologies, and other climate-related technologies. The comment period for the report runs through May 18, 2009.