Legislative Update: Clean and Green Legislation

Starting this week for the next several weeks, I will be highlighting legislation that is introduced, sitting in committee, and at risk of not being taken up for a vote without your advocacy.

This week I will be highlighting Clean and Green Legislation. I know that my vote on a recent bill has upset some environmental advocates that stand with me, so I want to start out by giving those that support our environment the opportunity to advocate first. After looking at these bills, if you support the legislation please contact the committee chairs by clicking on their names and urging them to put the bill up for vote in their committee. 

The House Consumer Affairs Committee holds the following bills. It is chaired by Representatives Brad Roae and Robert Matzie. 

HB531 would allow for community solar incentives. Participants could subscribe to a portion of an offsite solar project and receive credit on their electricity bill for the power produced, just as if the panels were on their roof. Currently many constituents lack the ability to participate in Pennsylvania’s growing solar economy, including: Renters, those in an apartment building, have a shaded or otherwise inappropriate roof for solar, property owners who are uncertain of their length of tenure. This bill removes an existing policy and market barrier, allowing for much greater participation.

HB1195 would modernize our Alternative Energy Portfolio Standards Act (AEPS). This was a forward-looking policy when enacted in 2004, neighboring states with stronger energy standards have surpassed us – creating thousands of new, family-sustaining jobs and cutting emissions in the process. Specifically, this legislation would expand the AEPS Tier I requirement from 8% to 30% by 2030, directs the PUC to study the benefits of a renewable energy storage program, and provides for several protections that control costs for electricity customers.

HB1314 would: Create jobs as solar energy is quickly becoming more accessible and affordable for those who once never considered it a viable option; help Pennsylvania’s electric utilities expand the usage, accessibility, and affordability of solar energy; and among other provisions provide low-income customers with the opportunity to reap the benefits of solar energy. 

The House Environmental Resources and Energy Committee holds the following bills.  It is chaired by Representatives Daryl Metcalfe and Greg Vitali.

HB1425 would establish a Clean Energy Transition Task Force, a Clean Energy Center of Excellence, and a Council for Clean Energy Workforce Development tasked with moving PA to 100% renewable energy by 2050. The bill would provide for the creation of family-sustaining, green-collar jobs by harnessing a newly skilled workforce, giving Pennsylvania’s academic institutions and other stakeholders the opportunity to advance new fields of technology to produce commercial and civic innovations. 

HB139 would significantly increase annual investments in the Commonwealth Growing Greener Program for environmental conservation, recreation, and preservation projects across the Commonwealth. This program has a strong history of success since inception in 1999, but funding has been reduced 75% over that time. This bill would restore that funding and increase from the original amount to repair what has been lost over time.

The House Finance Committee holds the following bills. It is chaired by Representatives Michael Peifer and Jake Wheatley

HB2621 and HB2624 are part of Representative Mary Isaacson’s Green Driver Incentives Package. These bills would allow certain zero-emission vehicles to be exempt from the state sales tax and allow an E-ZPass holders of certain cleaner vehicles to receive a 10 percent discount on electric toll collections.

The House Tourism and Recreation Committee holds the following bill. It is chaired by Representatives David Millard and Mark Longietti.

HB1475 would study the economic benefits of creating Conservation Corridors. Since Pennsylvania is a leader among states relative to annual outdoor recreational activities and consumer spending, it is imperative that the Commonwealth’s natural resources be preserved and expanded upon to better provide for both wildlife and ecotourism that is enjoyed by both residents and nonresidents alike.

The House Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee holds the following bill. It is chaired by Representatives Mark Keller and Eddie Day Pashinski

HB2131 would allow farmers to grant easements on their land for use as trails. Currently agricultural easements may only be used for the transportation of natural resources or the installation of power, water, or sewer lines.

Another Conservation bill that was passed unanimously in the House in March and is sitting in the Senate Transportation Committee may interest you. HB447 would require PennDOT to develop a list of native vegetation species that can be used in roadside work that is done throughout the state. Last term the previous bill did not get a floor vote in the Senate after passing the House unanimously. This bill is important to our ecosystem. You can contact Senate Transportation Chairs Senators Kim Ward and John Sabatina to urge them to move this bill before session ends again.

There are other bills close to this topic that deal with DEP Changes, Drilling, Utilities, Waste and Recycling, and Water. You can seek any bill out by using the same link as you used for the bills above and searching a topic of your interest. Next week I will focus on Human Services.