Jay Costa on Our Environment and Combating Climate Change

The Pennsylvania Constitution is unique from other states in that it makes clean air and water a RIGHT of all Pennsylvanians.

We must acknowledge that our future depends on how we respond to the devastating effects of climate change. Don’t be fooled by those who think we can’t grow our economy while protecting our environment. That’s a false choice designed to make you choose sides in a partisan fight.

We can continue growing our economy and we can do it in a sustainable way that protects our environment and makes new businesses act responsibly and pay their fair share.

This is an extremely complex and nuanced issue. It will not be addressed by platitudes, empty rhetoric, or a single piece of legislation. We need to work together and bring multiple industries to the table for a discussion on best practices in each field and how that can contribute to the greater good.

Supporting Local Solar Power 

We need to make clean energy generating technologies available to every Pennsylvanian who wants to implement them in their homes. But right now, many of our neighbors – especially renters, low-income homeowners, and folks who live in areas that can’t generate much solar power – can’t utilize these clean energy alternatives.

Customers shouldn’t have to foot the bill for their choice to go green and help reduce their carbon footprint.

  • That’s why I introduced the Pennsylvania Local Solar Program (SB 929), which allows utility companies to create 100% Pennsylvania, solar-based energy programs by contracting directly with solar development companies. These programs would include long-term cost control measures for new customers and are overseen by the Pennsylvania Utility Commission, offering another layer of protection to consumers. And to allow for the widest-possible adoption of solar power across the commonwealth, SB 929 also mandates that between 5% and 15% of program participants be low-income earners.

Cap and Invest Legislation

When President Trump pulled the United States out of the Paris Climate Agreement and directed the repeal of the Clean Power Plan, he pushed us closer to a global environmental catastrophe. We can’t stick our heads in the sand and pretend that climate change doesn’t exist, but that’s exactly what some in the federal government want us to do.

It’s up to us at the state level to develop and implement bold, future-focused solutions.

  • That’s why this summer, I introduced a cutting-edge Cap and Invest bill – the Climate Change Mitigation and Energy Transition Act – which will limit regional greenhouse gas emissions and strengthen our communities. 

My Cap and Invest Bill uses a model many neighboring states have already adopted (the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative) to reduce carbon emissions from the energy sector by 90% by 2040. Under my plan, these emissions would be capped, and electric-generation plants would buy “allowances” from the state to produce carbon emissions. Their payments would then be used to develop an Energy Transition Fund for badly-needed economic development programs, job training opportunities, and investments in new, clean technologies to incentivize their growth. 

Clean energy generating technologies shouldn’t just be reserved for those who can afford to install solar panels in their homes – we should make these options available to all Pennsylvanians. That’s why the Climate Change Mitigation and Energy Transition Act includes subsidies for low-income Pennsylvanians to purchase clean energy tech. 

This bill helps meet Governor Wolf’s pledge to reduce statewide carbon emissions in keeping with the Paris Climate Agreement’s goals. We can’t let petty politics destroy our planet, and as Democratic Leader, I’ll continue to introduce the legislative solutions that will help strengthen our regional economy and save our environment.

Funding Programs to Help Pennsylvania Grow Greener

Our state’s natural resources belong to the people – plain and simple. But there are some in our government who’d like to sell those natural resources to the highest bidder. That’s something I cannot and will not tolerate.

  • I’m fighting for Senate Bill 929, which would impose a severance tax on resource extraction that will be used to pay for investments in our schools, our economy, and our environment. 
  • I’ve fought to keep drilling away from schools and neighborhoods and will continue to work hard to ensure that our commonwealth’s most vulnerable residents don’t face the risk of serious health problems. 
  • I’ve supported the ban on drilling on state recreational lands.
  • I sponsored Senate Bill 386, the Landslide Insurance and Assistance Program, which would create dedicated landslide insurance programs that are affordable for all our residents. When tragedy strikes, no Pennsylvanian should be left to pick up the pieces on their own just because they couldn’t afford the high price of insurance coverage. 

Removing Lead from Pennsylvania Water

Far too many residents – including children, seniors, and members of other vulnerable populations – get their water delivered through old, unsafe lead pipes. Drinking lead-contaminated water can lead to serious health problems, and even death and our state government needs to do more to help local municipalities replace these pipes.

As Democratic Leader, I’ve fought hard to call attention to this public health crisis and supported a variety of measures to mitigate it. 

  • I sponsored Senate Bill 221 to establish the Lead Remediation and Abatement Superfund to help municipalities cover the cost of lead pipe removal, especially in spaces (schools, care facilities, public housing units, etc.) frequented by children.
  • I also co-sponsored Senate Bill 39 to update lead testing requirements in public facilities.
  • In 2018, I worked with legislators across the aisle to bring $49 million in state funds to the city of Pittsburgh. This grant went directly to the replacement of 28,000 lead lines in neighborhoods with a high population of children.
  • I sponsored Senate Bill 312, an act to require health insurance companies to cover blood lead-level testing for children and pregnant women.

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