Letters to the Editor + Op-Eds 2015

York Daily Record:
300 words

The York Dispatch:
400 words for Letters to the Editor, 800 words for "Other Voices" letters

Lancaster Online:
Lancaster also has a Transition movement and possibly stronger connections with the environment and agriculture than we Yorkers do.  We and Lancaster have enough in common that we can learn a lot from each other and work well together.

The Baltimore Sun
talkback @ baltimoresun.com

The Patriot News / PennLive
letters @ pennlive.com
250 words maximum (they get hundreds of submissions per month)

Politicians via their staff do pay attention to Letters to the Editor and Op-Eds.  They are a significant path for voters to voice their opinions to policymakers, who want to know what their electorate is thinking.

At http://citizensclimatelobby.org/published-media/ is a vast nationwide collection of LTEs published by members of the Citizens' Climate Lobby, which has regular monthly meetings in York usually at the UUCY.

2015 Citizens' Climate Lobby of York (Facebook page) monthly meeting schedule:

April 8th  (Facebook page)
May 6th (Facebook page)
June 17th
July 15th
August 12th
September 9th
October 7th
November 18th
December 9th (Facebook page)

And for 2016:
January 13th (Facebook page)
February 24th
March 23rd
April 20th
May 18th
June 15th
July 13th
August 24th
September 21st
October 19th
November 16th
December 14th

All are at 7 PM in the Susan B. Anthony room, downstairs in the main building.


The five ways to break our addiction to fossil fuel: Kenneth M. Klemow
(Submitted as "Five Challenges to De-Carbonizing our Energy Supply")
PennLive Op-Ed 
on December 27, 2015 at 11:00 AM, updated December 27, 2015 at 11:07 AM

By Kenneth M. Klemow

Proponents of alternative energy were left scratching their heads last week over a report that the town council from Woodland, N.C., rejected a proposal to rezone a parcel of land to allow a proposed solar farm. 

Several reasons were given, including threats to human health, the notion that the community would not directly benefit, and even concerns that the array would kill nearby vegetation by depriving them of sunlight.  

Last month, a Luzerne County Court denied an appeal by a firm planning to construct a windfarm of up to 25 turbines in Foster Township. 

Locals were concerned that the turbines would be injurious to their health, safety and welfare – and that a windfarm was not consistent with other permitted land uses.

Those actions came against the backdrop of global concerns over climate change caused by burning fossil fuels.  Climate change was a centerpiece of Pope Francis' recent Encyclical. 

Last month's Climate Change Conference in Paris led to an agreement by 195 countries to voluntarily shift away from fossil fuels and shift to non-carbon renewables like solar and wind.

Some demand an immediate end to fossil fuel development.  I do not see that as feasible, or maybe even desirable. 

Change must come, but it may take a couple decades because five challenges stand in the way.

First, more than 80 percent of our energy comes from fossil fuels, according to the U.S. Energy Information Agency. 

They have many benefits: convenient to transport and use, loaded with energy, produce largely invisible pollution, reliable, and presently inexpensive.

Second, developed countries use energy – mostly as fossil fuels – for nearly all facets of life.  In the U.S., we use 95-100 quadrillion BTUs each year; 40 as petroleum products for transportation and industry, 27 as natural gas for electricity, residential, and commercial use, and 18 as coal for electricity. 

Take away those fossil fuels right now, and people go cold, hungry, and are constrained in their travel. 

Third, some folks ("deniers") believe that fossil fuels do not contribute to climate change, a number that varies from 20-40% depending on the survey.  They make ever more convincing claims that people who worry about global warming ("alarmists") are misguided – at best. 

Change must come, but it may take a couple decades because five challenges stand in the way.

Fourth, undeveloped countries want to industrialize – and live like we do.  While some countries like Germany depend heavily on renewables, most still burn fossil fuels. 

Many opponents to Marcellus shale development claim that our gas will be exported. If true, then the importing countries will certainly burn it.

Fifth, opposition to the deployment of alternative energy remains strong. 

Additional examples beyond the North Carolina and Foster Township cases include actions by Vermonters to limit their solar farms, and protests by residents of upstate New York against a proposed windfarm near Lake Ontario. 

Those and other examples might represent the most significant hurdle to efforts to de-carbonize our energy supply.

So vexing problems remain. 

But humans can overcome problems.  Certainly, improved technology and lower prices should allow alternative energy sources like wind and solar to become more cost competitive.  And people must be more willing to accept their presence.  

We should take another look at nuclear energy, perhaps using thorium instead of uranium as the primary fuel.  New technologies including smart metering and microgrids may help us be more energy-efficient, without painful conservation measures. 

And new systems of transportation can help us reduce reliance on 2-ton vehicles – especially where mass transit is not a convenient option.  We have a minds-on opportunity for current and future generations – and energy education is a key. 

Solutions will come by working together, and continuing to support research and practices to lead to the energy transformation that must be put in place before mid-century. 

If the scientific predictions of warming somehow prove wrong – what's the harm in diversifying our energy sources? 

We will be leaving fossil fuels in the ground for future generations to enjoy. 

But assuming the predictions are right, and burning fossil fuels does lead to climate change with all the attendant negative effects, then de-carbonizing our energy supply is our only hope for saving the one planet we have.

Kenneth M. Klemow teaches in the Biology and GeoEnvironmental Science departments at Wilkes University in Luzerne County.

We need solutions to e-cycling problems
YDR editorial board 11:55 a.m. EST December 29, 2015

The recycling company that was set to take York County’s old electronics in 2016 said it could not take the material.

Here’s hoping you had a great Christmas!

Maybe you got a new smart HDTV with the curved screen. Maybe a new gaming system – and new laptops and tablets for the whole fam.

Have fun!

But now what are you going to do with all your obsolete tech-ware that’s, like, a whole six months old?

Don’t toss it in the trash. That would be illegal in Pennsylvania, according to Act 108.

OK, so that calls for a trip over to the York County Solid Waste Authority’s e-cycling drop-off site, right?


Just in time for the post-Christmas old tech purge, the authority has suspended its drop-off program.

But don’t call the authority a Scrooge or a Grinch. The suspension isn’t YCSWA’s fault.

The issue is that the recycling company that was set to take York County’s old electronics in 2016 said it could not take the material, said YCSWA spokeswoman Ellen O’Connor.

It’s a problem of supply and demand. There’s too much recycled material, and the price of the material is so low it doesn’t make economic sense to process it all.

But that doesn’t change the law.

You can’t put computer monitors, old laptops and desktops, keyboards, mice and a plethora of other “covered devices” out for the trash – and your waste hauler can’t pick it up if you do.

So, what are you supposed to do?

Well, you might be able to get Best Buy to take it. Call and check first. Some other local companies also take in e-cycling.

But barring that, stick it in the basement until YCSWA secures a new e-cycler, which Ms. O’Connor said the agency is trying to do.

YCSWA is also urging residents to contact lawmakers and ask for changes in the law.

Ms. O’Connor offered a few suggestions:

Change the law to allow waste facilities to dispose of “orphan” electronics – computers and monitors left by the side of the road or elsewhere. That might be a short-term solution to a problem we know is only going to worsen locally in the coming weeks, but it’s not a long-term plan.
Change the law to simply allow these devices to be disposed of by agencies such YCSWA. In York County, that material would be burned at the incinerator – essentially used as fuel to create electricity. Ms. O’Connor says the metals can be extracted from the ash – and the incinerator has “state-of-the-art” pollution controls. That’s a possibility, but it would be better to recycle the materials.
Tweak the law so that the fee manufacturers must pay to cover e-cycling is more uniform and workable. That makes sense, but remember, those costs are built into prices for electronics, driving up expenses for consumers.
The bottom line is that there’s no free lunch – no easy, perfect solution that’s exempt from the laws of supply and demand.

So, maybe you could come up with some creative uses for your obsolete tech.

Use it to make sculptures?

Turn it into avant garde furniture?

This is bound to become a growing problem in our tech-crazy world.

We need our lawmakers to come up with some innovative solutions.

Hey, maybe this is a job for Sen. Scott Wagner, R-Spring Garden Township! He does own a waste-hauling business, after all.

Correction: An earlier version of this editorial incorrectly identified the company that was planning to take electronics waste for the York County Solid Waste Authority in 2016. The correct name of the company is Vintage Tech, according to YCSWA spokeswoman Ellen O'Connor.

We must plug methane leaks in Pa.
Dewitt Walton, Guest Writer 12:47 p.m. EST December 28, 2015

From the Paris Agreement signed by nearly 200 nations to the work of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on its Clean Power Plan — the first-ever limits to carbon pollution from existing power plants — the move to a lower-carbon economy here in the U.S. and around the globe is underway. But there’s another climate culprit out there, a greenhouse gas more than 25 times more potent than carbon dioxide over a 100-year period: methane, the primary component of natural gas. To really tackle the challenge of climate change, we must also address methane leaks.

Methane leaks are an invisible but significant problem, accounting for up to a quarter of America’s total greenhouse gas emissions. From the pipes underneath your street to the oil fields of North Dakota, natural gas leaks threaten our climate and our communities. This year, President Obama took a significant step to address this by setting a goal to reduce methane emissions up to 45 percent across the energy sector from 2012 levels by 2025.

Achieving the administration’s goal could reduce this pollution and wasted gas equivalent to an estimated 80 million tons of carbon dioxide per year, comparable if not higher than reductions in current federal policies to move to cleaner vehicles or power plants. Here in Pennsylvania alone, companies wasted over 120,000 metric tons of methane in 2013. Outdated practices and leaking equipment among Pennsylvania energy companies waste the amount of natural gas that would heat 75,000 homes — or half of the homes in Pittsburgh — for a year, and produces the equivalent annual greenhouse gas emissions of the over 700,000 cars in Allegheny County.

This summer, the EPA followed up Obama’s pledge by proposing common-sense standards that would require oil and gas operators to plug these leaks and become more efficient. This is a smart move. Proven, off-the-shelf technologies can deliver these reductions at low cost. An ICF International report estimated methane emissions could be reduced by 40 percent below projected 2018 levels at an average annual cost of less than one penny per thousand cubic feet of produced natural gas.

Efforts to reduce methane loss by improving industry practices and technologies will result in safer working conditions and job opportunities for energy sector workers. Furthermore, unionized gas workers are eminently qualified to identify and repair leaks, install and operate the newest leak reduction technologies, and inform industrial practices.

In addition to those “upstream” oil and gas activities, natural gas leaks — whether accidental or by design — are also pervasive throughout the natural gas distribution (downstream) systems delivering gas to homes and businesses within our communities, with many portions of this system dating back to the 19th century. There are more than 100,000 miles of leak-prone pipe made of obsolete materials such as cast iron and bare steel — which leak methane at a level upward of 50 times that of advanced materials being installed today — underneath our nation’s cities and towns. At the current rate of progress, it could take 30 years or longer to repair and upgrade those vulnerable segments of our natural gas distribution systems. Moving up the timeline to repair those leak-prone pipes from 30 years to 10 years could create nearly 250,000 more jobs and avert more than 80 million metric tons of greenhouse gases pollutions over a decade.

We’re glad to see the Obama administration tackling the issue of upstream natural gas leaks, and hope they become the law of the land next year. We hope these policies eventually cover all sources of these unnecessary leaks. But, in Congress there are efforts to stymie these common sense efforts and we need our Pennsylvania leaders — like Sen. Bob Casey — to lead the way to ensuring they remain intact and strong, as well as to support other climate efforts, like the Clean Power Plan.

Keeping natural gas in the system is the right and smart thing to do. It will keep communities and workers safe, grow and sustain good jobs developing, manufacturing and implementing the technologies to stop leaks, and will help us in our efforts to tackle climate change. It’s a winning proposition all around.

Dewitt Walton is the assistant to the International President for the United Steelworkers.

Susquehanna impaired? You bet
YDR editorial board 10:41 a.m. EST December 24, 2015

About a decade ago, environmentalists began noticing something fishy in the Susquehanna River.

Fish kills were occurring more frequently. Subsequent studies found that the river's smallmouth bass population had plummeted. Fishermen reported catching smallmouth with sores, rotting fins and black spots.

On Nov. 3, 2014, the state Fish and Boat Commission reported, a smallmouth caught near Duncannon had cancerous growths.

Some 80 percent of the male smallmouth bass in the Susquehanna have eggs growing in their testicles, a result, environmentalists contend, of being exposed to chemicals associated with sexual mutations in fish.


A recently completed multi-year study conducted by the state Department of Environmental Protection and the Fish and Boat Commission indicated that the most likely suspects in causing the mutations and disease in the smallmouth population are such chemicals, along with parasites, pathogens and herbicides used in agriculture.

As a result of the study, which called for – you guessed it – more study, environmentalists have asked the state to list the Susquehanna as "impaired," a designation that would trigger further action under the Clean Water Act.

That sounds good – until you get to the fine print.

Designating the river as "impaired" does not mean that more money would be budgeted to study and remedy the issue. Nor does it mean that the river would be cleaned up and sources of the chemicals and other pollutants that are killing off smallmouth bass would be eliminated

It would start a 13-year-long process to address the problem.

Thirteen years.

Well, that's better than doing nothing, but not by much.

Lower Susquehanna Riverkeeper Michael Helfrich, citing numerous studies, said he has a pretty good idea that the problem can be traced to agriculture in general, and specifically to bovine hormones and a herbicide used on corn crops called Atrazine.

For instance, he said, environmentalists point to studies that show that the percentage of smallmouth bass in the Delaware and Allegheny rivers with deformities is much lower than in the Susquehanna – between 20 and 30 percent, compared to 80 percent. Both of those rivers flow through highly developed and industrialized areas and are not flanked by farmland, as is the Susquehanna.

There have also been studies that indicate that deformities in fish populations below municipal wastewater treatment plants occur at a lower rate than those above such plants.

That points to run-off from agriculture, they contend.

And Mr. Helfrich said he believes Atrazine, a chemical manufactured by Swiss chemical giant Syngenta, could be to blame. Atrazine is manufactured in Switzerland and is imported to the United States. The European Union banned its use in 2004 when groundwater levels exceeding regulatory limits were discovered. Syngenta has denied that there is any connection between its product and deformities in fish.

Proving any possible connection – if indeed there is a connection – can be a long process. The sooner that process begins, the better.

As it is, the state DEP is expected to make a determination on whether to designate the river as "impaired" in mid-February. Once that occurs, the public will have 45 days to comment on the decision before any final determination.

And it should be noted that the state study of the smallmouth population does not reach any conclusions. Rather, it considered 14 different explanations for the deformities and maladies occurring in the smallmouth population.

Certainly, more study is needed. And it needs to begin now.

Meanwhile, as a precaution, it would be a good idea for farmers to be mindful of the kinds and levels of chemicals they use on their fields.

That also goes for owners of golf courses and homes.

Think twice before bombing your yard with herbicides. The long-term consequences might be devastating.

Smallmouth bass have flourished in the river since they were introduced to the Susquehanna from the Potomac River in 1869.

Let's not be the generation that kills them off.

Climate Change and War

I appreciate your sharing Rev. Hescox’s encouragement of Rep. Perry co-sponsoring the Gibson Resolution.  I too hope for a peaceful world where addressing climate change can help relieve some of the stressors that lead to support for ISIS.

But our Rep. / Brig. Gen. Scott Perry seems unsure of the need to address climate change.

So let me quote the 2014 Quadrennial Defense Review: “As greenhouse gas emissions increase, sea levels are rising, average global temperatures are increasing, and severe weather patterns are accelerating. These changes, coupled with other global dynamics, including growing, urbanizing, more affluent populations, and substantial economic growth in India, China, Brazil, and other nations, will devastate homes, land, and infrastructure. Climate change may exacerbate water scarcity and lead to sharp increases in food costs. The pressures caused by climate change will influence resource competition while placing additional burdens on economies, societies, and governance institutions around the world. These effects are threat multipliers that will aggravate stressors abroad such as poverty, environmental degradation, political instability, and social tensions – conditions that can enable terrorist activity and other forms of violence.” (Ch.1, p. 30)

As retired Rear Admiral (and PhD) David Titley puts it, “While terror is a threat, climate change is a risk that increases multiple threats (a threat multiplier).”

Addressing climate change is also an opportunity to lead.  As Dr. Titley also puts it, “We can either lead it from Seattle and Detroit and Boston, or we can lead it from Beijing and Shanghai and Qingdao.”

Wherever it’s led from will get the good green energy jobs.  Rep. / Brig. Gen. Scott Perry, where would you rather the leadership be?

Roger Twitchell
Volunteer for Citizens’ Climate Lobby
York City

Revision submitted 12/23/15 11:20 AM
In YDR paper but not online last week of 2015

Pa. should start a state carbon fee and dividend program like other states: PennLive letters
Letters to the Editor 
on December 21, 2015 at 3:00 PM, updated December 21, 2015 at 4:39 PM

As the PA Department of Environmental Protection considers new regulations to comply with the Clean Power Plan, there are several important considerations.  First, we need a plan by September, 2016.

Opting out, isn't really an option at all. If Harrisburg doesn't have a plan, the EPA will make one for us. That's not in our best interests. 
Second, we can join the New England Plan called RGGI (Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative) which includes large amounts of your money to set up a state trading board. RGGI is a cap and trade program. It has failed in Europe and is a very modest success in California. 
Or third, we can start a state carbon fee and dividend program like five other states are doing. This is already a great success in British Columbia, with CO2 levels down, while business is up.
My choice is a carbon fee and dividend. Very little in startup costs. Very little in yearly costs. It creates jobs and it lowers both methane and carbon dioxide levels in the state. In Lancaster County, where we have some of the worst air in the country, this would greatly reduce pediatric asthma attacks and help our seniors' breath better.

Write your Congressman and Senator and ask for hearings in 2016. We can get this done if we all join forces and act now. Carbon Fee, advanced solar and wind, plus good jobs for our citizens. That's the clean power plan that's right for Pennsylvania.


Christmas shopping for Jesus
Doris Hoffacker, Guest Writer 1:47 p.m. EST December 21, 2015

I thought you might like gloves, but even XXL didn’t look big enough for someone who has the whole world in his hands.

Dear Jesus:

It’s that time of the year again, and I can’t decide what to get for you for your birthday. I saw a nice silk tie at the department store, but I’m not sure men wear ties in heaven. So, instead of buying it, I put the money in the red kettle near the door. That brought a smile to the sweet lady, and she jingled her little bell.

I bought you a nice, warm wooly sweater, but after I brought it home, I wasn’t sure about the color. It was purple and gold. Do you still wear mostly white, like the pictures I see of you? No matter. I sent the purple one to a young wounded warrior.

Then, I thought you might like some gloves, but even the XXL didn’t look big enough for someone who has the whole world in his hands. Instead, I chose some pink ones to go with the cute bunny hat I bought for the mitten tree at our church. I hope that’s OK with you.

A catalog of gift ideas came in the mail yesterday, but when I called and asked them to send you a really neat tool kit, they said “heaven” wasn’t a proper mailing address. I did my best to tell them how to reach you. You won’t be getting the tools anyway because I sent the money to those people who build houses for deserving people who have no place to call home. By the way, do you have a ZIP code? I may need it down the road.

The gift shop at the mall had a pretty wind-up angel that played “Joy to the World,” but I was afraid you wouldn’t be able to hear it above all the singing and joyful noise you have going on in heaven. So instead I picked a name from one of those angel trees at the front of the store, and guess what? A little girl by the name of Joy wants a music box for Christmas. How sweet is that? Hope you don’t mind that I’m getting that for her instead of you.

I always liked those little glass balls with Christmas scenes inside. I would shake them and watch the snowflakes float around. But that would have been nothing special for you. You can watch the snow falling all over the Earth, can’t you? That must be an awesome sight. Do you suppose the folks at the nursing home would like to see “White Christmas” one more time? I hope so, because I bought the movie for them.

One thing you won’t be getting from me, Jesus, is a Pennsylvania lottery ticket. I heard about a man named “Joe” who gives one to his friend “Rita,” year after year. I guess she hasn’t struck it rich yet. If I’m going to give you a gift, why would I give you a piece of cardboard that has about a gazillion-to-one chance of being worth anything? I’ll just put some extra money in my offering on Christmas Eve. That way, I’m sure it will get to you.

I just can’t think of what I can do for you, Jesus. There are only a few more weeks to shop before Christmas, so maybe you can send me some suggestions. I’m sure your wish list must be very long.

I already know of some things you’d like. You want us to live together in peace, love one another, feed the hungry, and see to it that everyone has warm clothes to wear, safe drinking water and mosquito nets for some people in Africa (so they won’t get malaria). They also need hospitals, schools and churches, but those are things I can’t afford. Besides, those are things I try to do for other people here on Earth. I want to do something for you, Jesus. What can I give you for Christmas? I’m always glad to hear from you, so I’ll be waiting for your list.

P.S. Would it be possible to see to it that some people get hearing aids on Christmas morning? Lots of them don’t hear you very well and don’t know what they’re missing. And maybe reading glasses, too. Many folks aren’t studying your word any longer, so perhaps magnifiers would help them magnify you more often.

Doris Hoffacker lives in Manchester Township.

Climate change and The Call For Peace
Rev. Mitchell C. Hescox, Guest Writer 11:37 a.m. EST December 18, 2015

Congressman Perry should move beyond the harmful rhetoric and at least agree to co-sponsor the Gibson Resolution.

Rev. Mitchell Hescox

Let there be peace on earth is one of the great prayers in this holiday season as we honor the original coming to earth of the Prince of Peace, Jesus.  However, peace seems a remote dream this Christmas.  With the continued rage of the so-called Islamic state, domestic acts of fear and seemingly perpetual stream of violence shown to us through the news and our social media feeds each day, many Americans are deeply concerned.

Despite the poor jokes from some political pundits, one of the factors behind the world’s rampant conflict is our changing climate; we’re messing up God’s creation.  No, climate change doesn’t cause war, but climate change does impact food production and water supply, especially in the majority world. Changes in rainfall patterns, drought and higher temperatures all decrease life’s necessities.  When people suffer food and water scarcity – when they’re hungry and thirsty, they go looking for it, and this competition for resources often results in violence. Also, when you can’t feed your kids and you’re looking for any type of hope you can become susceptible to extremist propaganda.

This isn’t just my opinion, our Quadrennial Defense Review published every four years by our Department of Defense states it, so does our Central Intelligent Agency, as well as numerous studies offered by scholars across the nation.  Just recently, I was part of a meeting for conservatives seeking ways to find solutions to overcome climate change.  At the meeting were three retired generals.  As we opened the meeting and shared why climate change was a concern to us personally, one of the generals, retired from the Marine Corps, got watery eyes as he shared that he never wanted our young men and women go into harm’s way because of climate change.

It’s time for our Congressman Scott Perry to show the same level of concern; he can’t just be for the troops and national security when it’s convenient and ignore their safety when special interests get in the way.  Last year, he co-sponsored legislation to forbid our military to consider the threats of climate change. This year Congressman Perry should move beyond the harmful rhetoric and at least agree to co-sponsor the Gibson Resolution.  The Gibson Resolution authored by Rep. Chris Gibson, R-N.Y., and co-sponsored by other Republican House members, including Pennsylvania’s Pat Meehan, Ryan Costello and Mike Fitzpatrick, simply states that climate change is real, human caused and poses a threat to us all.

Co-sponsoring this resolution would be a small Christmas present to the people of Pennsylvania’s 4th Congressional District and would join with over 80,000 Pennsylvania pro-life Christians, The National Association of Evangelicals, Pope Francis, 195 nations of the world, every major scientific body in the United States, and even the overwhelming number of Republicans in the country, according to a recent University of Texas poll, in calling for climate action.

Acting on climate won’t end the terror’s threat today, but it will go a long way to defending our children’s health now, offering the potential of a new and better clean energy future, providing a better economy and hope for less violence.

Climate change is the greatest moral challenge of our generation and the greatest opportunity for hope in rebuilding the American dream.  One of my Christmas prayers is that my congressman will follow the Prince of Peace as a good steward of God’s creation, defend our children’s future and work together for peace on earth.

The Rev. Mitchell Hescox is president of The Evangelical Environmental Network and lives in New Freedom.

Counting on Perry on climate
Letter 4:16 p.m. EST December 17, 2015

Thank you for publishing Jon Clark’s column on “Why Rep. Scott Perry should be a climate hero.” In his excellent column, Jon listed six great points that were all strong Republican views.

When you have generals in the Defense Department listing climate change as a primary threat to the USA, the pope insisting it is a humanitarian imperative, ExxonMobil wanting a fee on carbon to reduce greenhouse gases, and of course the president all on the same page, it is not some crazy leftist plot to take over the U.S.

We must stop this mad dash over the cliff. We can grow our economy and lessen the power of the Middle East on our world. We have major projects here that would help our economy and put millions of Americans to work doing what America does best, building things, not just selling things made poorly overseas.

We need a Smart Grid that doesn’t waste electricity, we need a high speed modern rail and freight systems that will take truck and auto traffic off our overburdened roads. We need roads and bridges repaired. Finally, we need better schools so the people of tomorrow can better figure out a way to fix the mess we’ve made.

There is a lot of oil in the ground, and we need it to make all the plastics on our keyboards and computers, let us not burn it and send it into the air. Save some oil for the next generation that will come up with things we old farts will never think to do with it. Dr. David Titley, a professor of meteorology at Penn State, said “I don’t believe in climate change, it IS climate change now,” and now Rep. Scott Perry must help become a climate hero.

Craig Horowitz
Spring Garden Township

OPED: Climate change pact good for economy
GARY W. YOHE, Tribune News Service 4:08 p.m. EST December 16, 2015

With more than 190 countries reaching a historic global deal on climate change at the United Nations conference in Paris Saturday, detractors repeated old, unproven arguments. As they've done for decades, critics suggest that efforts to protect the environment will hurt the economy, an argument that could not be further from the truth.

The evidence in the peer-reviewed economic literature, as well as real experience around the world and in the United States, shows that climate action not only protects public health by reducing pollution, but also protects the economy from extreme weather shocks and other complications that have and will arise from a changing climate. The sooner we act, the more money we save.

Unfortunately, mitigation, adaptation or suffering are our only options. More mitigation means less adaptation; less or no mitigation means more adaptation. But eventually the capacity for adapting will be overwhelmed in either case. These facts have been confirmed by global and national assessments for at least 20 years, but there is more. Doing nothing, as those pushing inaction propose, means having to react more quickly at far greater cost in the future.

Economists widely agree that reducing carbon emissions is most efficiently accomplished by placing a price on them. The price should start small, but rise over time to send a steady signal to businesses. If the price of carbon is clear, businesses can plan and make smart decisions to usher in the clean energy economy required to avoid climate calamity. Economists know that exhaustible resources become more valuable over time. In this case, the resource is the atmosphere, and its ability to absorb carbon dioxide. The more we emit, the less the atmosphere can take before triggering changes that are devastating and irreversible.

But what price should be imposed? One approach is to calculate the value of damages of emissions to public health and the environment. Current estimates, here, range from below $10 per ton of CO2 to more than $300 per ton — an uncomfortably wide range. Though critics say this range is evidence of scientific or economic uncertainty, the reality is that the prices vary depending on non-scientific value judgments. Larger or smaller prices are determined by how big a risk is deemed allowable, what level of inequality between rich and poor nations is acceptable and how we value a future dollar compared to its present value.

The bottom line, however, is that burning fossil fuels incurs costs that aren't represented by the estimated costs of what economists call an externality. When you buy a gallon of gas, you're paying the cost of digging it up, refining it and delivering it to your car. What you aren't paying is the cost of the pollution generated by its burning. That waste is carbon dioxide, and its disposal into the atmosphere creates costs that all of society pays over long periods.

This insight means that investing in clean energy not only provides new jobs (with more people employed in solar and wind rather than the coal industry), but also reduces the burden on taxpayers, who are increasingly forced to pay for extreme weather's adverse effects.

So while advocates of delaying action claim to act on behalf of the economy, economists disagree. As does the business community. That's why more than 80 U.S. corporations (as of October 2015, but growing since) have committed to significant emissions reductions over the next 15 years. Some even targeted zero global emissions for their corporations before 2030. Most are extending their efforts beyond their production processes and their supply chain vulnerabilities. Why are they doing this? Because they recognize a significant risk to their bottom line, and so their shareholders demand action.

The science is clear — burning fossil fuels causes warming. The economics are straightforward — fossil fuels are costly to society. The business case is compelling, and adopting clean energy futures is profitable for American business.

In that light, the final agreement in Paris is a good deal that will ensure a solid return on clean energy investments.

Denial of the problem or refusing to take action now will put human beings, our communities and our planet at risk.

Gary W. Yohe is the Huffington Foundation Professor of Economics and Environmental Studies at Wesleyan University and was a lead author for the United Nation's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's Fifth Assessment Report, which provided the underlying science for the just concluded U.N. climate change conference in Paris.

A Clean Power Plan for Pa.

As the state Department of Environmental Protection considers new regulations to comply with the Clean Power Plan, there are several important considerations. First, we need a plan by September, 2016. Opting out isn’t really an option at all. If Harrisburg doesn’t have a plan, the EPA will make one for us. That’s not in our best interests. Second, we can join the New England Plan called RGGI (Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative), which includes large amounts of your money to set up a state trading board. RGGI is a cap-and-trade program. It has failed in Europe and is a very modest success in California. Or third, we can start a state carbon fee and dividend program like five other states are doing. This is already a great success in British Columbia, with CO2 levels down, while business is up.

My choice is a carbon fee and dividend. Very little in startup costs. Very little in yearly costs. It creates jobs and it lowers both methane and carbon dioxide levels in the state. In Lancaster County, where we have some of the worst air in the country, this would greatly reduce pediatric asthma attacks and help our seniors’ breathe better.

Write your congressman and senator and ask for hearings in 2016. We can get this done if we all join forces and act now. Carbon fee, advanced solar and wind, plus good jobs for our citizens. That’s the clean power plan that’s right for Pennsylvania.

Jim Sandoe


Perry can help on climate change

Thank you for your coverage of climate change and your editorial support for action on this issue.

Rep. Scott Perry has represented the Pennsylvania 4th Congressional District for three years. His statements about climate change have been cautious. But large numbers of Americans now understand the risks associated with climate change, and most want their elected officials to take action now. The president's Clean Power Plan, though helpful, takes a regulatory approach to reducing carbon emissions. But a price on carbon would provide a more effective and market-driven mechanism. A revenue-neutral fee-and-dividend version would protect consumers from increased energy costs while growing the economy and increasing jobs.

Congress seems mired in legislative gridlock, but Rep. Perry is well positioned to assume a leadership role in dealing with climate change. His constituents – and all Americans – would benefit from an aggressive approach to mitigating climate change. Backing a revenue-neutral carbon fee-and-dividend would be a great first step.

Morton Rubenstein

Upper Allen Twp.

OPED: Can 'Star Wars' unify a disintegrating American culture?
CHARLES CAMOSY, Tribune News Service 1:20 p.m. EST December 13, 2015

The debate after the San Bernardino, Calif., terrorist attacks couldn't have done a better job illustrating just how divided the American people actually are.

Many reacted as if having fewer guns was the obvious response of all reasonable people; others genuinely thought this was crazytown, and that the obvious solution is more guns.

This kind of disagreement is now all too familiar in other areas of public debate. Whether the issue is race, abortion, marriage, health care, immigration, or gender, the fundamental assumptions we bring to the table are so different that we might as well be speaking different languages.

And, in some sense, we are. In the world of academic ethics, we spend a lot of time thinking about the implications of the disintegration of not only our political culture, but of any common moral language or ideas we could use to have genuine engagement. More and more ethicists are even challenging the basis of fundamental ideas such as the equal dignity of all human beings. Professor Ruth Macklin of the Einstein College of Medicine, for instance, famously argued that "dignity is a useless concept."

We used to have a common set of theological ideas on which to draw, but our growing commitment to freedom of religion and a secular public sphere has meant such appeals today have little force. Claims that, say, all of us are created equal by God — or that we have a special duty to the stranger and the poor — have no special authority. We used to be able to appeal to the words and ideas of our founding fathers, but in an era of sensitivity to race, gender, and colonialism these are also anything but authoritative.

We seem to be running out of resources here. But in just a few days huge swaths of our culture will drop everything and watch "Star Wars: The Force Awakens." Many will do so multiple times. The trailer has over 70 million hits on YouTube. Ticket presales are ridiculous, and many (including even Steven Spielberg) predict it will be the biggest movie of all time.

One of the main reasons so many think "Star Wars" will break all the records is because it manages to bring together an unbelievable number of people — whatever their race, whatever their gender, whatever their politics, and whatever their age. Think about how many sets of grandparents, parents and children, for instance, will find time over the holidays to see this movie together.

George Lucas' goal in making "Star Wars" was a self-conscious attempt to appeal to primordial stories and images and ideas, and his great triumph was the successful creation a new kind of mythology. His success is now even more important as one our last remaining resources for meaningful ideas which can transcend our deeps divisions.

"Star Wars" fans of all kinds can agree with Yoda that, "Luminous beings are we — not this crude matter!" We can agree with his teaching that power should be used for "knowledge and defense — never for attack." And we can see that Yoda himself exemplifies his own claim we ought not to judge people by their size.

As a ridiculous fan myself, I join many others in having been taught many other things by "Star Wars". About the interconnectedness and power of all living things. About the dignity of all persons regardless of alien origin. About the capacity of orphaned farm boys to save the universe. About the possibility of redemption for even the most evil of people. I also learned that Empires are bad.

But "The Force Awakens" has enough pressure on it to both satisfy hard core "Star Wars" fans and be the biggest movie of all time. Can we really expect it to also be a unifying force in the face of a disintegrating culture?

This may seem like a tall order, but the advantage "Star Wars" has going for it is that it has already managed to pull this off. It has already captured the cultural imaginations of Baby Boomers, Generation X and Millennials. It has already spoken deep truths to liberals, conservatives and everyone in between. It has already formed the moral sense of people of every race, language, and way of life.

Given that director J.J. Abrams has committed to the genre, stories, and approach of the original three movies, there is reason to be hopeful. Americans might not be able to agree on what Christmas means in our culture, but we can agree on what movie to see during the Christmas season.

Let's see what we might learn from this common cultural experience. The Force may still be with us.

Charles C. Camosy is an associate professor of theological and social ethics at Fordham University.

OPED On climate: One step forward, two steps back?
LARRY SHWEIGER and JOSH MCNEIL, essayists for The York Dispatch 7:38 p.m. EST December 10, 2015

Last month, President Barack Obama ended seven years of protests and political posturing by rejecting TransCanada's application to build the Keystone XL pipeline, which would have sent dirty, corrosive tar sands oil across the U.S. over critical aquifers through the “bread basket” states to bunker fuel refineries along the Gulf of Mexico. Obama rightly noted that rejecting the pipeline application was synchronous with U.S. efforts to combat climate change, and sent the right signal ahead of critical climate talks at COP 21, the U.N. climate conference currently underway in Paris.

Americans can breathe a sigh of relief at the president's actions as they applaud him for killing a project that would have harmed our environment while bringing few permanent jobs or economic benefit to the U.S.

And yet, here in Pennsylvania, the storyline is record-setting wells being drilled in the Utica Shale, a dry-gas formation in western Pennsylvania, eastern Ohio and the West Virginia panhandle whose yields could dwarf those of the nearby Marcellus Shale formation and inundate the market with natural gas. Along with that continued, even accelerated, fossil fuel extraction come harmful impacts to public health as our air and water quality are not immune to the ravages of this inherently industrial activity.

How, and when, will we get a handle on climate change if we move away from fossil fuels such as coal on a national level yet double down on extractive industries here in Pennsylvania?

A better scenario for Pennsylvania would be to move with deliberate speed to a zero-carbon economy that relies on clean energy and energy efficiency to power our future. Countries such as Germany and China are miles ahead of us in this regard, with clean energy in Germany having reached grid parity – it costs no more to generate electricity from solar panels than to buy it from a utility. China will add 18 gigawatts of solar this year, nearly matching America’s total installed 20 gigawatts in just 12 months. Conversely, in Harrisburg, our politicians will not even commit to raising our Alternative Energy Portfolio Standard, which asks that we generate a puny 8 percent of our energy from clean, renewable sources.

Meanwhile, ignoring methane leakage rates, gas industry lobbyists tell politicians that we will be better off with gas than with coal. They are promoting massive investments in new gas-powered electrical generators and extensive infrastructure including statewide pipeline projects for gas export. It’s a little like Coca-Cola saying Pepsi causes cavities.

Capital investments would be far better deployed in moving full speed ahead toward a clean energy future. Smart money investors are already realizing that the cost curves of both solar and lithium battery storage point to a fast-approaching moment when their combined costs will find grid parity with natural gas. Solar power with battery storage will soon fall below the cost of electric energy from gas-fired power plants, and this new reality will disrupt fossil-fuel generation investments and strand untold assets in the traditional energy sector.

The reality is that this capital investment shift will not happen overnight, which is why we applaud the Environmental Protection Agency for issuing rules that will curb carbon and methane pollution and, hopefully, help forestall the worst impacts of climate change. Here in Pennsylvania, Gov. Tom Wolf has signaled that he will extend the EPA's mandate by addressing methane emissions from existing sources of natural gas pollution in the state. As we are the second-largest natural gas producing state in the nation and home to thousands of methane-spewing oil and gas wells, we must act and we applaud the governor's resolve in the face of spurious assaults from industry lobbyists.

Pennsylvania has little choice but to do its part by embracing a profound shift in how we generate and use energy. Clean energy and energy efficiency will be the hallmarks of a better future. It makes both economic sense for our citizens and environmental sense for the planet. Gov. Wolf can lead us there, but we all must speak up if we expect Pennsylvania to be a welcoming home in the near term and for future generations.

Larry Schweiger is president and CEO of PennFuture and Josh McNeil is executive director of Conservation Voters of PA

OPED Historic win for global survival
TSEMING YANG, Tribune News Service 6:39 p.m. EST December 10, 2015

As the climate negotiations in Paris enter the home stretch, the summit's outcome will likely include a new international agreement and a fundamental restructuring of the relationships between the parties who have participated in the talks.

These outcomes will make significant progress toward preventing the worst effects of climate change while also advancing U.S. energy and climate policy.

Media attention has primarily focused on the greenhouse gas emission, or GHG, pledges put forth by countries and whether or not they are sufficient. The U.S. pledge is to reduce such emissions by 26 to 28 percent, based on 2005 levels, by 2025.

A bulk of the reduction — 17 percent — is expected to be achieved by 2020 through regulatory and policy initiatives that are ongoing, especially the Environmental Protection Agency's recently promulgated Clean Power Plan that will regulate carbon emissions from the nation's fleet of coal-fired power plants.

The rest of the reductions are expected to be achieved by 2025 through future regulatory and policy efforts.

These numbers constitute an ambitious but realistic goal. For those concerned that even this limited goal may be too much, however, there is a fall-back: the pledged emission reductions will not be binding.

What has the U.S. gotten out of its emission reduction pledge? Other countries have reciprocated with their own emission limitation pledges, which combined will aim to keep global warming below the danger threshold of 2 degrees centigrade.

For example, the European Union has committed to a 40 percent reduction from 1990 levels by 2030, while China plans to peak its GHG emissions by 2030, simultaneously lowering its economy's carbon intensity by 60 to 65 percent compared to 2005.

America's future generations and economy are among the obvious beneficiaries of these efforts. Moreover, these commitments will also help to level the global economic playing field, beginning to subject all businesses across the world, not just in the U.S. and other developed nations, to climate regulations.

There is one further important outcome — the restructuring of participation in emission reduction that has resulted from the process. Designed like a "pay what you can afford" restaurant, countries have been allowed to tailor their emission reduction pledges to fit their individual national circumstances and capabilities.

Of course, the non-binding nature of these pledges has been criticized as making them meaningless and drawn comparisons to the failed "pledge and review" process of the original 1992 climate change treaty.

Nevertheless, the process has been valuable in allowing Paris negotiators to hit the reset button on the developed vs. developing country classification that has haunted U.N. climate efforts since its 1992 beginning.

The classification was originally intended to ensure that the wealthiest countries would do the most to reduce emissions — simply because they were responsible for the bulk of the human-origin carbon emissions accumulated in the atmosphere.

While historical responsibility for climate change clearly needs to be addressed, the past two climate agreements in 1992 and 1997 chose to do so by requiring only developed economies to limit GHG emissions.

Yet, as emissions from the developing world have been rising rapidly and China has emerged as the world's greatest GHG emitter, such an approach is no longer workable.

Just as it is impossible to win a soccer match by fielding half a team with no goalie, any climate agreement is unlikely to succeed without the substantive participation of all of the world's largest GHG emitters regardless of developed or developing classification. Abandoning that classification and looking for alternative paths to climate equity will be one of the key accomplishments of this conference.

The outcomes of the climate talks will not be apparent for at least a few more days. However, it is clear that they will fundamentally shake up business as usual — for the better of the planet and future generation.

Tseming Yang is a professor of law at Santa Clara University School of Law and a former deputy general counsel of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Readers may write him at Santa Clara Law School, 500 Camino Real, Santa Clara, CAL 95053

OPED Going vegan good for the planet
CRAIG SHAPIRO, Tribune News Service 9:39 a.m. EST December 6, 2015

Dozens and dozens of world leaders are meeting this month at the critical world climate change conference in Paris, in the hope of reaching a legally binding, universal agreement to curb carbon emissions and keep global warming below 2 degrees Celsius.

The goal is crucial and long overdue.

But it's also in jeopardy. Concerns have already been raised that the summit will not meet its goal. Christiana Figueres, the United Nations climate chief, predicts that it will fall short of the 2-degree target, and there is heated disagreement over which countries among the more than 190 that will be represented should cut greenhouse-gas emissions the most and which ones should pay for it.

While diplomats bicker and compromise, the Earth suffers. But we don't have to wait for them to agree _ each of us can act right now to protect the environment, starting with our breakfast. Simply eating food derived from plants instead of from animals is one of the most effective actions that we can take to limit climate change.

Raising and killing billions of cows, pigs, turkeys, chickens and other animals for food every year is responsible for a staggering 51 percent or more of greenhouse-gas emissions worldwide. It's no wonder that the U.N. has said that a global shift toward vegan eating is necessary to combat the worst effects of climate change.

Making that shift has never been more urgent. Last month, the World Meteorological Organization reported that concentrations of methane and nitrous oxide, key greenhouse gases, appeared to be increasing rapidly and that average levels of carbon dioxide had risen 43 percent over pre-industrial levels. Researchers at Britain's University of East Anglia followed with another ominous finding — the Earth's average temperature has exceeded historic norms by 1.02 degrees Celsius.

According to a 2014 study by researchers at the University of Oxford, just by going vegan, we can reduce the amount of greenhouse gases that our diet contributes to climate change by up to 60 percent. Eating plant-based meals also helps prevent other kinds of environmental damage.

Eighty percent of agricultural land — nearly half the land mass of the contiguous United States — is used to raise animals for food and grow crops to feed them. Meat production wastes precious water, too: It takes more than 2,400 gallons to produce a pound of cow flesh, while producing a pound of whole-wheat flour requires only 180 gallons.

Runoff from factory farms and livestock grazing pollutes our groundwater, lakes, rivers and oceans. Reducing our reliance on meat, eggs and dairy foods would free up land, water and other resources for growing food for hungry humans instead. Eating vegan doesn't just help the Earth. It has also been tied to lower rates of heart disease, obesity, diabetes, cancer and many other maladies. And of course, leaving animals off our plates prevents horrific cruelty.

Going vegan is eco-friendly, healthy and humane, but odds are that it won't be one of the solutions discussed in Paris. That doesn't matter, though, because climate change is everyone's fight, and the bell is ringing.

Craig Shapiro is a staff writer for the PETA Foundation

York College profs to attend climate conference
 Mike Argento, margento@ydr.com 8:57 a.m. EST December 3, 2015
Peterman and Foy
(Photo: York Daily Record, Mike Argento)
The challenge facing Keith Peterman and Greg Foy is daunting.

As educators – they are chemistry professors at York College – they feel the need to teach. And as journalists – they share a blog – they feel the need to inform.


But the subject is daunting – climate change.

"It's a big challenge," said Foy, who has taught at York College for 20 years, "not because I don't think people can understand science. They do. The challenge is the complexity of the issue is so great. You don't know where to start."

And beginning Friday, when the professors travel to Paris to cover the United Nations' annual conference on climate change, the challenge will be multiplied. As complex as the issue is, just from the scientific standpoint, the conference has its own complexity.

"It’s like a 15-ring circus," said Peterman, a professor at the college since 1976.

Their duties at the annual conference are two-fold. First, they will be blogging about it, covering it for their blog, Global Hot Topic. And secondly, as representatives of the American Chemical Society, they are mentoring eight students from the U.S., Canada and Puerto Rico – including one from York College – attending the gathering and reporting on it through social media.


For the students, it's a chance to be a part of the conference. "Youth aren't at the table, but it's their world that this will affect them," Peterman said.

And for Foy and Peterman, it's a chance to witness how the world is reacting to science and, sometimes, finding solutions. "Some people are groupies for musicians or stars," Peterman said. "We're groupies for the negotiators and the heads of state."

Their press credentials get them access to much of the conference, everything but the behind-closed-door negotiating sessions aimed at coming up with an agreement to reduce CO2 emissions and to try to slow the Earth's warming.

The press briefings can include scientists and heads of state. For instance, at the conference in Lima, Peru, they were in the room when Secretary of State John Kerry answered questions from the world's press about the United States' seeming lack of progress on the issue.

This year's conference is critical, they said. "This isn't hippie, tree-loving, jumping up and down," Peterman said. "The window for addressing this issue is closing.

"The warming of the Earth is a critical issue. Its effect on climate is what's going to cause disasters down the road," he said.


Just this week, The New York Times published a piece about climate change's effect on the Marshall Islands. "They're disappearing," Peterman said. "As they disappear, entire nations are gone."

The professors are leaving Friday to attend the two-week-long conference's final week.

"Hopefully," Peterman said, "we'll be there when the agreement is signed. It has to be signed. We can't fail."

Reach Mike Argento at (717) 771-2046.

Rep. Scott Perry must lead on climate change
YDR editorial board 3:36 p.m. EST December 2, 2015

YDR is lucky to have two well-qualified correspondents “covering” the COP21 climate change conference in Paris.

York College Professors Keith Peterman and Gregory Foy write a blog focused on global warming and related issues at ydr.com/blog/hot.

They’ve blogged on the issue for several years, and that has allowed them to gain press credentials to attend these important annual COP conferences.

Both of these local chemistry professors hope this will be the year that the world truly makes a commitment to do the hard things necessary to counter global temperature increases.

So do we.

This is the defining issue of our time.


Can we set aside self- and special interests and come together to save our planet from catastrophe?

It won’t be easy or cheap or quick.

It probably won’t even be dramatic.

Staving off this slow-motion Armageddon won’t involve the heroism of a plucky oil-drilling crew (hmmm…) landing on a comet and saving mankind.

It will require heroism of a different kind – a patient kind, a communal kind, a kind that doesn’t necessarily involve American rugged individualism.

First, we need our leaders, those in positions to do something about the problem, to agree that it’s even a problem.

Unfortunately, that remains in doubt.

President Obama set the right tone in his speech at the opening of the conference in a city that recently suffered a horrific terror attack that was in some sense a reverberation of our world’s dependence on Mideast oil.

But Republican leaders in Congress had already made it clear that U.S. efforts to counter climate change would be DOA in D.C.


Even if the president is successful in working out a plan with global leaders for binding commitments to cut CO2 emissions, congressional leaders say our nation might not make good on the president’s promises.

Many of those congressional leaders doubt global warming – or humankind’s role in it.

But as Professors Peterman and Foy have made abundantly clear in their blog posts, the science is incontrovertible. Climate change skeptics hang their arguments on thin strands of doubt sowed by well-funded special interests. The vast majority of climate scientists have discounted the arguments of skeptics.

Sadly, York County and Pennsylvania are not at the political forefront in working to reverse climate change.

Sen. Pat Toomey is a longtime climate-change skeptic.

Rep. Scott Perry’s position on the issue is also worrisome. In 2012 he told the YDR Politics blog: “I do believe global warming is occurring. … However, I do take exception, whether it’s man-made or not.”

It’s man-made, Rep. Perry.

There are still things we can do to slow or reverse it – but only if we start right now and remain steadfast.

The children of York County need Mr. Perry to recognize the danger, embrace the solutions and use his political clout to move them forward in Congress.

We need a new kind of American hero Rep. Perry.

Is that you?

What is the carbon cycle?
Letter 10:20 a.m. EST December 1, 2015
When we pump this ancient carbon up from underground, and then burn it, we force the carbon back into the air.

Dear Papa Dan,

Carbon? Why are people arguing about carbon? I know what carbon is, and that it is essential for life, but it seems like people in Congress, running for office, and on TV news mention it often, without helping me understand why it’s such a big deal.

My Dear Granddaughter,

Behind what they are talking about is the “carbon cycle” — which I studied in Earth Science class back in 1961. We should all understand it, because it controls lots of things about life on Earth. Let me try to explain it briefly:

I’m about to talk about a “long time.” By this I mean hundreds of millions of years. A “long time” ago, and over a “long time” period, our Earth had many hot, swampy jungles that were filled to overflowing with humongous plant growth. All those plants removed carbon dioxide from the air — just like plants do today.  When they died in gigantic layers, their carbon became buried underground — trillions of tons of it.  This stuff eventually turned into coal, oil and natural gas — what we call "fossil fuels." Some of it also turned into diamonds.

As all that carbon was being pulled out of the air, the earth’s climate and oceans cooled-off and created this lovely planet as we humans have known it. This cooling caused ice to be stored near the North and South poles. This caused the oceans to recede and make larger land areas — places that people now call the beach, the wetlands, the coast, a coastal city, or maybe even home.

When we dig, frack and pump this ancient carbon up from underground, and then burn it, we force the carbon back into the air, as carbon dioxide again. This causes the planet’s air and water to heat back up, returning us to the jungle days.

Why does carbon dioxide cause Earth to warm up? They call it a “greenhouse gas.” It lets the sun’s light warm the Earth but forms a reflective blanket to keep heat from escaping back into outer space.

Today, on our drastically warming Earth, the polar ice is melting, the ocean water is warming up, rising up and becoming more acidic, and the climate is becoming warmer and more severe — more storms, more violent storms, longer and worse droughts, floods, fires, etc.

If we don't stop burning fossil fuels now, we will wreck the only home we have. It is that simple. That’s why there’s talk about carbon. That’s why hundreds of countries are meeting in Paris to talk about this and try to form agreements to deal with it.

Do you think that people who ignore, deny or mock this science should be entrusted to represent us in our government or lead our businesses and organizations? Will you consider this when you vote or choose what products to buy? Will you help other folks understand this? Our precious planet sure hopes you do.

Love always, Papa Dan

Daniel Brocklebank

What Everybody Loves! SOLUTIONS
Gregory Foy, YorkDailyRecord 4:14 p.m. EST November 23, 2015

So the world will come together in Paris next week to negotiate a binding agreement to reduce CO2 emissions. By all current analyses, Individual nationally determined commitments (INDCs) are falling short of the targets that will keep our world below a 2oC rise, but there are ways to get there! All we need is the will to implement already tested and proven low carbon solutions. Sitra, a Finnish Innovation Fund has put forward seventeen low carbon solutions that could cut Global Emissions by 25%. These solutions fell into four different categories that are depicted in the table below;

The UNFCCC also recognizes a path forward in a release last week “Huge Positive Policy Potential to Increase Greenhouse Gas Emission Cuts” which is designed to help policy makers increase their country’s Individual Nationally Determined Commitments (INDCs). The report identified many of the areas in the table above as shining examples of “Climate Policies at Work World-Wide”. The report also identified four key areas that are that are “Barriers to Greater Ambition”, including Carbon Pricing, Inefficient Subsidies, Finance and Capacity Building, and Institutional, Regulatory and Legal Framework.

There are clear paths towards a future that limits the effects of climate change by controlling temperature rise. Now the work needs to come together and agree! All eyes on Paris!!

OP-ED: Flooding an election issue for 123 million Americans
York Dispatch
POSTED:   10/26/2015 01:11:36 AM EDT | UPDATED:   ABOUT 8 HOURS AGO

As we enter the next presidential election season, there's a looming issue that affects more than 123 million Americans, approximately one-third of the U.S. population. It's an issue that has enormous implications for people's security, jobs and the economy. Yet we do not hear many politicians, including the current presidential candidates, talking about it.

What's this issue? Coastal flooding and sea-level rise.

More than 45 percent of America's GDP is tied to our coasts. More than 66 million jobs are at stake, totaling $3.4 trillion in wages. States from Maine to Texas and Alaska to California have property along coastal areas. And it's a major issue for people in our cities of Hoboken, New Jersey, and Coral Gables, Florida.

Recent historic flooding in South Carolina underscores just how dangerous and costly flooding can be. Hundreds of people were displaced, roads were impassable, and businesses were shut down for days. In many places, it's not just the big storms and near-misses, like Hurricane Joaquin, that leave people worried. It's also "sunny day flooding" that's happening more regularly as high tides push water past the beaches and onto local streets as sea levels rise.

Many cities and towns are suffering from increased flooding, including so-called nuisance flooding that affects roads, drainage systems and other infrastructure. According to NOAA, nuisance flooding increased between 300 percent and 900 percent along all three U.S. coasts since the 1960s. Much of this flooding is being accelerated by sea-level rise associated with our changing climate.

Many officials in cities and towns are already addressing increased coastal flooding. Mayors are on the front lines. We worry all the time about preparedness and resiliency planning. We know it makes no sense to wait until disasters strike to think about what we could have done, when preventative measures are a cost-effective way to avoid damage and destruction.

The stakes are huge. In Florida, tourism is the biggest industry, bringing in nearly $72 billion in 2012. If beach towns become inundated, money for repairing and moving vital infrastructure will instead become a drain on city budgets, state finances and federal agencies. The same is true in urban metro areas up and down our coasts.

As we approach the three-year anniversary of Superstorm Sandy, we're reminded of the devastation that hit the New York-New Jersey area. The toll was severe, costing the people of Hoboken $100 million in private property damage, crippling businesses and shutting down our public transportation system. As the sea level rises, coastal flooding, stormwater drainage challenges and other related problems are expected to get worse.

That's why a diverse and bipartisan group of more than 35 mayors and local elected officials are gathering this week in Hampton, New Hampshire, for a summit to discuss local and national responses to coastal flooding. We'll speak with fellow mayors, state officials and representatives from federal agencies who are responsible for studying, insuring and protecting our coastlines. We'll also hear from security experts in the U.S. Navy who will explain how sea-level rise driven by climate change poses a long-term threat to military facilities and our fleets around the world.

This is a truly bipartisan event, with more Republicans than Democrats in attendance. The ocean doesn't care if we are conservative or liberal; either way it's moving closer to our homes and businesses.

The monumental scale of this problem demands the attention of our national leaders. It's an issue that should be of concern for any elected official who wants to strengthen the U.S. economy and protect our communities. With so much at stake, there's no time for partisan bickering or attempts to skirt the issue. The 123 million Americans who live in coastal counties need action.

That's why we're calling on all presidential candidates, regardless of their party, to take a stand and tell us what they'll do to address coastal flooding and sea-level rise. What measures will they take to support local communities facing rising tides? What action will they take to prevent more damage over the long term?

America's leaders can't afford to stick their heads in the sand, because if they do, in just a few years, that sand might just be gone.

— Jim Cason, a Republican, is mayor of Coral Gables, Florida. Dawn Zimmer, a Democrat, is mayor of Hoboken, New Jersey.

OP-ED: New ozone regulations easily met, and everyone benefits
York Dispatch
POSTED:   10/23/2015 12:59:05 AM EDT | UPDATED:   3 DAYS AGO1 COMMENT

On Oct. 1, the Environmental Protection Agency revised the national standards for ground-level ozone, one of the primary components of photochemical smog.

This was a modest action but one that will help protect the health of many Americans.

Ground-level ozone is formed through chemical reactions involving nitrogen oxides and volatile organic compounds emitted from transportation, energy production and industrial activities.

In contrast to its role in the stratosphere, where ozone absorbs harmful ultraviolet radiation, ozone at the ground level can cause serious health effects, including respiratory irritation that can lead to coughing, wheezing, tightness of the chest and nasal congestion.

Ozone can aggravate existing health problems such as asthma, emphysema, pneumonia and bronchitis. Long-term exposure could injure the lungs, permanently reducing lung function, and lead to premature death.

While natural levels of ground-level ozone are generally in the range of 5-30 parts per billion, ozone levels have more than doubled since 1900, reaching several hundred ppb in many urban areas.

This is not the first time the ozone standard has been strengthened. To ensure that the standards continue to provide public health protection with an adequate margin of safety, the Clean Air Act requires the EPA to review air quality standards every five years and to revise the standards as scientific understanding shifts.

The original ozone standard of 120 ppb was reduced to 84 ppb in 1997, and the current standard of 75 ppb was set in 2008. It's the Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee that provides advice on setting the standards.

In 2007, the committee recommended that the standard be reduced to between 60 ppb and 70 ppb based on research demonstrating observable adverse impacts at ozone levels as low as 72 ppb. But the Bush administration EPA chose to lower the standard only to the current level of 75 ppb, against the advice of the advisory committee.

For this current review, the committee again recommended a standard between 60 ppb and 70 ppb, but advised that 70 ppb might not provide an adequate margin of safety, as more recent scientific studies provided some evidence of adverse health effects at this level. But because the science is more uncertain about what occurs at lower levels of exposure, the EPA decided to set the standard at 70 ppb, the upper end of the recommended range.

As in the past, industry and utility groups have claimed that the cost of compliance will kill jobs and hurt the economy.

However, recent history has clearly demonstrated the economic benefits of improving air quality. Since 1970, air pollution has decreased by 70 percent, while the U.S. economy has tripled.

The EPA estimates that the public health benefits of the new ozone standard would be between $2.9 billion to $5.9 billion annually by 2025 compared with estimated annual costs of $1.4 billion, and it projects that by 2025, more than 90 percent of counties outside of California that currently do not meet the standard will have ozone levels below 70 ppb.

To put this into perspective, 90 percent of the 115 areas violating the 84 ppb standard in 1997 meet that standard today. In 2012, only 46 areas violated the 75 ppb standard, while over one third has met that standard today.

As before, industry and utilities will have time and flexibility to meet the new standard. Based on history, these groups should give themselves more credit for meeting the technological and economic challenges of reducing emissions that lead to improved air quality in order to protect the health of the citizens of this country.

Are EPA's new ozone rules reasonable and necessary? The science says they are. The law says they are. And history says everyone will benefit.

— Philip S. Stevens is the James H. Rudy Professor in the School of Public Environmental Affairs and the Department of Chemistry at Indiana University Bloomington.

Stop subsidizing dirty fuels (letter)
York Daily Record
UPDATED:   10/22/2015 12:45:30 PM EDT

Re: “A few flaws in Pandelidis climate change column” (Oct. 15): One flaw in Pandelidis’ argument that fossil fuels are good for poor countries is the fact that carbon pollution kills over 3 million people annually in the third world (“Science”).

Another flaw: Pandelidis claims clean energy is anti-capitalist. The only reason fossil fuels are dominant, here and in the third world, is that they get an astounding $10 million per minute in subsidies (IEA). “Fossil Fuel Subsidies Cost $5 Trillion Annually and Worsen Pollution” (Scientific American).

Even so, clean energy is already starting to out-compete fossil fuels economically. Clean energy coalitions like Power For All and d.light are already providing cheap distributive clean energy in the third world, leap-frogging over the dirty energy model of the 20th century, just as the third world skipped land-lines and went directly to mobile phones. Groups like the IEA say that, using low-cost clean energy, we can achieve universal energy access in the third world through a mix of grid, micro-grid and off-grid sources by 2030. We just need to level the playing field to allow real capitalist competition.

We need the same level playing field in the U.S. to create the transition to a clean energy economy here. First, let’s end all energy subsidies. Then let’s stop socializing the cost of carbon pollution.

Make the fossil fuel industry, rather than taxpayers, responsible for the cost of the pollution their products cause (over $566 billion annually, Forbes).

Using an increasing carbon pollution tax that’s given, in full, directly to the American people every month in equal amounts, the transition to clean energy would cost U.S. consumers and taxpayers nothing. In fact, it would actually put extra money in the average American’s wallet (Citizens Climate Lobby website).

— Pete Kuntz, Manheim Township

Bravo to the Gibson Resolution (letter)
York Daily Record
UPDATED:   10/22/2015 10:43:24 AM EDT

Many senior politicians in my youth had served in WWII as a matter of simple, humble duty, and so saw honorably working together simply as Americans as what one did. That included honorably working well with Democrats.

The Reagan and then Bush senior administrations sought to address the growing hole in the ozone layer. Their Montreal Protocol is why the ozone layer is healing instead of getting worse.

And so I salute the 10 courageous House Republicans (including three from Pennsylvania) who presented the Gibson Resolution, declaring that we should help address the humanity-induced causes of climate change. That is the same honorable kind of Republican that created the Montreal Protocol, the EPA, the National Park system (Teddy Roosevelt) and the National Academy of Sciences (Lincoln).

Marcus Aurelius pointed out, “Nothing can happen without change.” With the September jobs report tragically showing the worst workforce participation rate since 1977, perhaps it’s advisable to acknowledge the economic opportunities in reducing carbon pollution instead of backing the economy into a status quo obsessed hole. History shows a healthy, stable economy requires a healthy, stable environment.

The Army National Guard has been of great help to those impacted by Hurricane Joaquin.

As wildfires, drought and storm damage worsen with climate change, the entire U.S. military knows its help will be increasingly needed. Perhaps the National Guard’s Brigadier General Scott Perry, our representative, can correspondingly find the courage to join his fellow Republicans in acknowledging the need to address the causes of climate change.

Rep. Perry’s fellow National Guard members in the Carolinas certainly understand the damage caused by weather disasters. Rep. Perry, do you wish to reduce the strain on the National Guard and on the economy from climate change?

— Roger Twitchell, York

Rep. Scott Perry: Here's why I joined the House Freedom Caucus (column)
By U.S. Rep. Scott Perry
UPDATED:   10/21/2015 05:02:45 PM EDT12 COMMENTS

The resignation of Speaker John Boehner has sparked a much-needed debate in the U.S. House of Representatives. You'd be hard-pressed to find any American — conservative, liberal, independent or otherwise — who thinks Washington is working effectively on their behalf. The people I serve tell me that they're sick of the status quo. I fight this battle every single day, and that means taking a stand and advocating for real change — no matter how unpopular with the powers that be.

The only thing Washington understands is having enough votes to make a difference; i.e., strength in numbers. After two years of failed big government, big spending policies — including Continuing Resolutions, debt ceilings, trade, immigration and the Iran deal to name a few — where the opinions of rank-and-file members never were considered, I joined the House Freedom Caucus. This group seeks to give a voice to countless Americans who feel that Washington no longer represents their interests. Like them, we've had enough of a top-down system of governing, where rank-and-file members of Congress — and most importantly, the people they represent — have little say in the legislative process.

Recent editorials and guest columns have criticized me for being part of this "radical" caucus that allegedly refuses to compromise on anything.

First, if you're looking for "my-way-or-the-highway" government, head down to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, where if you don't support every facet of the president's agenda, you're accused of wanting to shut down the government — or worse.

I will tell you what is radical:

Radical is when our process is so broken that three or four people in Congress dictate what's best for my constituents and the American people. Radical is shutting members out of the amendment process because some special interest disagrees with them. Radical is ignoring the rules of the House in order to diminish the voices of individual members. Radical is when you refuse to exercise the constitutional power of the purse because it is an "unpleasant" vote for a few members. Radical is when leadership decides committee assignments based on fundraising and who you know, instead of merit.

These are things that citizens object to and that members of the Freedom Caucus who wish to do what's best to represent their districts object to as well. "Radical" or "Sisyphean fools," as your newspaper called us — really?

Quite to the contrary, the House Freedom Caucus is pursuing an agenda based on reforms that make the legislative process fair for all members — Republican and Democrat alike. That means governing from the ground up — allowing legislation to flow through committees in an open and transparent manner, and enabling members to offer amendments and help shape bills before they're voted on. By empowering members at the beginning of the process, we avoid the ongoing drama of governing from crisis to crisis and allow the legislative process to work as it was intended. We feel that Congress should make more decisions in public and not in secret meetings.

If these reforms are implemented, are conservatives going to win every debate? Certainly not. For the next year or so we have to deal with a Democratic president and Senate Democrats that can filibuster and support presidential vetoes. But the process will be more open and fair and citizens will be involved by knowing how their representatives vote. This is what change looks like, and it can be messy at times. But in choosing the next House Speaker, if we conduct a thorough and transparent process and members of Congress have time to receive feedback from their constituents to make the most informed choices possible, we'll be in a better position to reach our goal of enacting reforms that are fair for all members.

Our constituents simply will not — and should not — accept a continuation of the status quo. We need to honor the promises we made to the people who sent us here and that's exactly what I intend to continue fighting for.

U.S. Rep. Scott Perry is a Republican representing York County.

Freedom Caucus member Scott Perry governing US like a high school clique (Mike Argento column)
By Mike Argento
margento@ydr.com @FnMikeArgento on Twitter
UPDATED:   10/14/2015 02:01:54 PM EDT

Remember back in high school.

Or maybe middle school.

There was that group of cool kids, the ones who belonged to a special clique, one that had exclusive membership and believed that their way was the right way, or only way, to do things — whether it was about the theme for prom or whether the stoners should be forbidden from choosing the music in the senior lounge after that incident involving Pink Floyd's space-rock album "Ummagumma." (Seriously, "Several Species of Small Furry Animals Gathered Together in a Cave and Grooving With a Pict" is a classic.)

They felt they were so very important.

It's funny because as the years pass — and those among us who have been out of school long enough not to remember much of it — those things matter very little. The cool kids figured out, as life dealt its usual playing-field-leveling blows, that none of that mattered and that, in the long run, it was pretty childish and absurd.

Which, speaking of childish and absurd, brings us to Congress.

Specifically to a group of cool kids — a group that includes our own Rep. Scott Perry — who seem to be running the House of Representatives. Or not running it. Your choice, depending on your point of view.
These cool kids belong to something called the House Freedom Caucus, a group of aggressively conservative members of Congress. Its members, for instance, had been in the forefront of trying to repeal Obamacare, which has failed 56 times at last count. That would make them seem like Sisyphean fools, trying over and over again to push that boulder to the top of the mountain, only to have roll back on top of them.

Unlike the cool kids, or Sisyphus, the members of the House Freedom Caucus, a small group of no-compromise conservatives, are actually running things.

Sort of.

The Freedom Caucus was credited with bouncing House Speaker John Boehner and derailing the candidacy of his second-in-command, Kevin McCarthy. Boehner, the conventional wisdom goes, was forced out by conservatives who didn't think he was ideologically pure enough and who have been trying to run him out of town for a few years now. The last straw was Boehner's refusal to allow a small band of conservatives to shut down the government over the issue of defunding Planned Parenthood, which was based on allegations that turned out to be patently untrue — as if that mattered.

McCarthy suddenly withdrew from the race for what was believed to be a couple of reasons. One, and this one has the most traction with those who actually care about this stuff, he admitted on TV that the House's ongoing, ridiculous exercise in futility called the Benghazi investigation was a political ploy to damage Hilary Clinton. Another was a rumor about a rumor that won't be mentioned here, except to say that it involved consenting adults and nobody, other than the parties involved, should care about it one way or the other. (There is an element of hypocrisy involved, but without hypocrites, where would we get members of Congress?)

The Freedom Caucus demands ideological purity and believes that any attempt to compromise is akin to treason. Boehner and McCarthy weren't pure enough. They were purged.

You may be wondering how a small group of conservatives can run things.

It has to do with basis arithmetic. The group has, depending on the report, between 36 and 40 members. Now, that's out of 435 members of the House. But it's an important number. The Republicans have 247 members in the House. If the Freedom Caucus abstains from certain Republican votes, the Republicans are left short of the 218 majority needed to pass anything. (That is, if they can't get any Democrats to go along, which is unlikely because Democrats think anything the Republicans try to do is stupid. By the same token, Republicans think that anything Democrats try to is also stupid.)

In short, a small number of extremist representatives are driving the bus.

And this explains, in part, why the House can't get anything accomplished.

One person described as a "senior GOP aide" told Roll Call, "They're not legislators. They're just (part of the human anatomy I cannot mention here)."

And one of them is our very own Scott Perry.

Back in July, a reporter from Roll Call asked Perry about his membership in the Freedom Caucus. He declined to answer, reasoning that the reporter wasn't among his constituents. The reporter asked whether the group's secrecy was healthy, and Perry said, "There is no obsessive secrecy."

When the reporter pointed out that the group won't say how many members it has, Perry said, "It's nobody's business but our own."

It seems the Freedom Caucus is sort of like Fight Club. The first rule is you don't talk about it. Maybe it's more of a guideline. A member of Perry's staff later did confirm that he was a member of the caucus.

All of this is kind of inside baseball, the kind of political infighting that gets people in Washington terribly excited, but which means nothing to the rest of us — unless were interested in the people we've hired to run the government doing some governing now and then, instead of squabbling like a bunch of teenage girls.

Seriously, that's what it's like.

Last week, on "Meet the Press," Republican Reps. Dave "Appropriately Named" Brat, a Virginia member of the Freedom Caucus, and Charlie Dent, a non-member from Lehigh County in Pennsylvania, faced off and held the following discourse, as reported by PolitiFact:

Brat: "I follow the American people. Charlie here wants us to follow, like a caucus or whatever. He wants to kick us out of our conference for voting our conscience."

Dent: "I don't want to do that."

Brat: "You're on the record last week saying it."


Brat: "I've got quotes. ..."

Dent: "That's an outrageous thing to say."

Brat: "No, it's absolutely true."

Dent: "That's not true."

It's not the Lincoln-Douglas debate. It's more like a snippet of dialogue from "Mean Girls 2."

And it sure explains a lot about how things work, or don't, in our nation's capital.

The only thing we can hope is that the cool kids grow up and set the childish and absurd things aside.

Mike Argento's column appears Mondays, Fridays and Sundays. He can be reached at 717-771-2046 or at mike@ydr.com. Read more Argento columns at www.ydr.com/mike. Or follow him on Twitter at @FnMikeArgento.


OP-ED: The hijacking of the House of Representatives
Los Angeles Times (TNS)

POSTED:   10/13/2015 10:46:46 AM EDT | UPDATED:   A DAY AGO# COMMENTS

Less than a year ago, Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Bakersfield) and his fellow House Republicans were triumphant. In November 2014, they elected more conservatives to Congress than any time since the 1920s. In the same election, the GOP won the Senate, giving the party control of both houses for the first time since 2006.

"We'll turn this country around," McCarthy pledged. "The president has to listen to what the American people have said."

Those ambitions have been reduced to ashes. A long-running revolt by insurgent conservatives has boiled over, first prompting House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) to retire, then pushing McCarthy, the second-ranking Republican, to abandon his candidacy for the job.

The House GOP still has its majority — but no speaker, no cohesion and no strategy for turning its conservative agenda into law. "A banana republic," said Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.).

And nobody seems to want the speaker's job, even though it's technically the third-highest position in the U.S. government. Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.), one of the wittier insurgents, said he didn't think he was qualified: "I don't have a background in mental health," he told the Washington Post.
The irony is that McCarthy and Boehner helped many of the rebels get elected. McCarthy was one of the three leaders of the GOP's "Young Guns" program, which recruited up-and-coming conservatives for House elections in 2010 and after. Another was Eric Cantor (R-Va.), a Boehner deputy who lost his seat when an insurgent defeated him in the Republican primary. The third, Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), is now almost every Republican's favorite candidate for speaker — but on Friday he said he wasn't interested.

Boehner wasn't part of the new wave; he was an old-line conservative who believed in blocking the agenda of a Democratic president, but also accepted the need to compromise to keep the federal government running. And that enraged many of the insurgents, who had promised voters they wouldn't agree to half-measures. They believe they were sent to Washington to obstruct compromises, not support them.

Their intransigence produced a series of fruitless crises.

In 2011, they demanded that Boehner refuse to allow a rise in the federal debt ceiling if Obama and the Democratic-led Senate didn't agree to all the spending cuts they wanted. The gambit failed. In 2013, they shut the federal government for 16 days in an attempt to force the repeal of Obama's health insurance program; that gambit failed too.

After his decision to retire, Boehner denounced the GOP radicals as "false prophets" who misled their own voters. They "whip people into a frenzy believing they can accomplish things that they know — they know! — are never going to happen," he said last week.

But don't feel too bad for him: Boehner stood by while that whipping took place.

"Now he's saying the House has been hijacked by radicals, but the pilots of this airline gave the hijackers first-class seats," Norman J. Ornstein of the American Enterprise Institute, a longtime Congress-watcher, told me. "They encouraged them, incited them, promised them things. And now the hijackers want what they were promised."

As radical as the insurgents are, it would be wrong to dismiss them as a fringe group. Even as they antagonized Boehner, they built a national constituency that may be a majority among grass-roots Republicans. A Fox News poll last month reported that 62 percent of GOP primary voters believe they have been "betrayed" by the party's leaders; 66 percent believe leaders have failed to do everything possible to block Obama's agenda.

The GOP's insurgent impulse, in other words, isn't merely a result of gerrymandering or conservative microclimates in rural America. It's a product of the same widespread anger that has made Donald Trump, Ben Carson and Carly Fiorina potential presidential nominees.

Back in the House of Representatives, the insurgents were not happy with McCarthy. They knew he was a Boehner conservative at heart — a compromiser.

After the GOP's 2014 election victory, McCarthy said he'd try to avoid fiscal crises to show the country that Republicans were ready to govern, paving the way for a Republican presidential candidate to win in 2016.

Last week, the insurgents — who have organized themselves as the Freedom Caucus, with about 40 members — auditioned McCarthy and others for speaker. As the price for their support, they demanded written promises from McCarthy: a Freedom Caucus member as his deputy, more limits on the speaker's power to appoint committee chairmen, no punishment for members who buck party discipline. McCarthy would have been crazy to say yes.

The sensible thing at this point might be for the Republican conference to split. After all, it's already operating as an unstable coalition of two mini-parties: the Freedom Caucus and what you might call the Governing Caucus. In a parliamentary system, the Freedom Caucus could force the government to call new elections. Alternatively, the GOP's Governing Caucus could form a coalition with moderate Democrats.

That won't happen in our system. Republicans will keep their majority — but it still won't be a usable, workable majority. They'll have the satisfaction of telling their constituents that they refused to compromise. But they still won't get anything done.

— Doyle McManus is a columnist for the Los Angeles Times. Readers may send him email at doyle.mcmanus@latimes.com

York countians are not radical, Rep. Perry (letter)
York Daily Record
UPDATED:   10/09/2015 04:29:12 PM EDT

Rep. Scott Perry is one of the 40 members of the Freedom Caucus. What? The Freedom Caucus, whose membership totals less than 10 percent of the U.S. House of Representatives, feels this country is on the wrong course. 

But, and this is a big but, they are committed to blowing up the government if they don’t get their own way. 

Right now, they have created chaos in the Republican Party by holding the House hostage to their opposition to a moderate conservative Speaker of the House. They do not accept the democratic process where the majority rules. 

While we may agree with many of the Freedom Caucus sentiments, we have never demanded that the majority bend to the will of those who are less than 10 percent of the House. We listen to all sides and resolve our differences through compromise, not ultimatum. 

We in York County are conservative, not radical. Scott Perry is seriously out of step with us.

— Marta Peck, York

Carbon: It’s all about the economics (letter)
York Daily Record
UPDATED:   10/09/2015 04:19:42 PM EDT

Thanks for your editorial “Is the end of Three Mile Island near?” (YDR Oct. 7). You are right to be concerned about the climate change implications of shutting down any sources of carbon-free electricity generation. You are also correct in stating “in the end, economics will likely dictate the future of TMI and other plants.” 

This is the fundamental problem of why we are facing a global climate crisis, the economics. Currently, the fossil fuels industry can dig up as much fossil fuel resources as they want and sell it to be burned without having to pay a single penny for polluting our air and water or changing the chemistry of our atmosphere. That cost is instead passed on to society, whether it be in the respiratory illness your child gets from smog, or the rising costs of insurance company rates due to increasing damages from extreme weather events like the recent flooding in South Carolina. The economics are all wrong.

Because the hidden costs of burning fossil fuels are not included in the “price at the pump,” fossil fuel infrastructure continues to grow. Instead of fracking and more pipelines, America should be investing in carbon-free sources of energy. The solution is simple. Put a price on carbon emissions and the price of fossil fuels will go up. Return all of the revenue back to consumers equally to protect the poor and middle class from rising costs from fossil fuels.
Investment money will shift to clean energy, lowering its cost to all. The free market will determine the most cost-effective and efficient way to power our economy, but only if the true costs are factored into the price of energy sources. 

The fossil fuels industry has a responsibility to pay for their damages. Until the faulty economics of our energy system change, the government will be forced to intervene with EPA regulations. Rep. Perry, please get government out of the equation by supporting a price on carbon emissions, and let the free market do its thing. After all, free markets, limited government and personal responsibility are all conservative values.

— Jon Clark, Conewago Township

Is the end of Three Mile Island near? (YDR opinion)
York Daily Record editorial
UPDATED:   10/06/2015 01:57:33 PM EDT2 COMMENTS

The future of Three Mile Island is uncertain after the nuclear plant failed to secure a contract to sell power to the regional grid in 2018-2019.
The future of Three Mile Island is uncertain after the nuclear plant failed to secure a contract to sell power to the regional grid in 2018-2019. (Jason Plotkin — Daily Record/Sunday News)
In York County, we have a love-hate relationship with Three Mile Island.

Let's start with the downsides:

We hate TMI because ... 1979.

The partial meltdown remains the worst nuclear accident in United States history. The incident panicked our community and forever colored Americans' perceptions of our region.

We suffered the fear and worry over the possible long-term effects of the meltdown.

And we still worry every time the nuclear power plant is cited for a safety violation or an equipment malfunction — or a fire, as occurred at the plant this week. It's not the kind of history you want in your community.

We love TMI because ... jobs.

Emissions-free electricity.

Reliable power.

It's comforting to know the plant is there to provide energy during peak power consumption times — scorching summer days, Arctic blasts.

But the plant's future seems uncertain.

This summer, for the first time in its four-decade history, TMI failed to get a contract to sell a year's worth of electricity — from June 1, 2018 to May 31, 2019.

Without that contract, there is no guarantee that PJM Interconnection — operator of the regional power grid — will buy any of the plant's power.

TMI and other U.S. nuclear plants are facing intense competition from natural-gas-fired power plants. The price of gas is low — thanks, in part, to the fracking revolution that has been such an economic boon to Pennsylvania. The number of gas-fired plants has mushroomed.

What does that mean for TMI's future?

It's not yet clear. The plant's owner, Exelon, is considering the future of several plants. Company officials said they're evaluating TMI, and profitability is a key component of that analysis. But there are no immediate plans to shutter the plant.

It leaves our community with an interesting conundrum. As much of a worrisome thorn in our side the plant has been since the accident, it does provide significant benefits.

It's an important part of our region's economy, and it's a major source of emissions-free power.

It seems ironic that at a time when carbon-emissions-fueled climate change is threatening the globe, economics are threatening one of the most potent and cleanest sources of electricity.

Old King Coal still rules when it comes to power production in the U.S. It's the source of 39 percent of our electricity. It's a cheap but dirty source of power.

Natural gas is No. 2 at 27 percent, followed by nukes at 19 percent.

Natural gas is cleaner than coal, but it still contributes significantly to global warming.

Can we afford to lose functional nuclear power plants?

Granted, they present serious waste-disposal issues — as spent fuel rods pile up at plant sites, and no progress has been made on a national storage facility. A closure of TMI, Peach Bottom and other nuclear plants would likely be cheered by some activists.

But it would seem foolish to shut them down until renewable, clean sources of power such as hydro, wind and other forms can carry more of the load.

In the end, economics will likely dictate the future of TMI and other plants. But power companies and government policy makers must also consider the climate-change implications.

TMI, York County hates what happened in 1979. But it would also hate to see you go — too soon.

LETTER: Perry should join courageous Republicans
York Dispatch
POSTED:   10/08/2015 01:25:52 PM EDT

Many senior politicians in my youth had served in World War II as a matter of simple, humble duty. They saw honorably working together simply as what Americans did. That included proudly working well with Democrats.

The Reagan and then Bush Senior administrations sought to address the growing hole in the ozone layer. Their Montreal Protocol is why the ozone layer is healing instead of getting worse.

With that proud Republican history in mind I salute the 10 courageous House Republicans (including three from Pennsylvania) who presented the Gibson Resolution, declaring that we should help address the humanity-induced causes of climate change. Those are the same honorable kind of Republicans who created the Montreal Protocol, the EPA, the National Park system (Teddy Roosevelt) and the National Academy of Sciences (Lincoln).

The Army National Guard has been of great help to those impacted by Hurricane Joaquin. As wildfires, drought and storm damage continue to worsen with climate change, the entire U.S. military knows its help will be increasingly needed. Perhaps the National Guard's Brig. Gen. Scott Perry, our representative in Congress, can correspondingly find the courage to join his fellow Republicans in acknowledging the need to address the causes of climate change.

Rep. Perry's fellow National Guard members in the Carolinas certainly understand the damage caused by weather disasters. Rep. Perry, do you wish to reduce the strain on the National Guard and on the economy from climate change? If so, please join your fellow courageous Republicans in co-signing the Gibson Resolution.


Citizens' Climate Lobby
York City

OP-ED: Proud of Pa.'s GOP climate resolution co-sponsors
Citizens' Climate Lobby
POSTED:   10/02/2015 11:07:27 AM EDT | UPDATED:   A DAY AGO1 COMMENT

Recently, 11 Republican legislators boldly joined hands and stepped forward in introducing a resolution in the House of Representatives that acknowledges climate change and the need for solutions.

Representatives Ryan Costello, Mike Fitzpatrick and Patrick Meehan of Pennsylvania, Richard Hanna and Elise Stefanik of New York, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and Carlos Curbelo of Florida, David Reichert from Washington state, Bob Dold from Illinois, and Frank LoBiondo from New Jersey, joined New York Rep. Chris Gibson in introducing the resolution.

"All too often, the conversation about appropriate and balanced environmental stewardship gets caught up in partisan politics. Yet, this conversation is key to the preservation of our great country for generations to come, as important as ensuring we have fiscally responsible policies to secure our future," said Congressman Gibson in a news release on his website. "For that reason, I believe the most important first step forward is recognizing that this is also a fundamentally conservative issue, and finding common ground on how to address it."

The resolution acknowledges "stewardship of our economy and our environment is a critical responsibility for all Americans in order to ensure that we preserve our great Nation for future generations." It also acknowledges the negative impacts of climate change across the U.S. and our economy that include "longer and hotter heat waves, more severe storms, worsening flood and drought cycles, growing invasive species and insect problems, threatened native plant and wildlife populations, rising sea levels, and, when combined with a lack of proper forest management, increased wildfire risk."

The resolution also mentions the threat that climate change imposes to our national security, which has been laid out in the 2014 Quadrennial Defense Review by the Pentagon, as well as the additional burden that climate change will place on State and Federal budgets in the long-term.

These representatives are also worried, rightly so, about the negative impact any solutions could have on the economy, saying "any efforts to mitigate the risks of, prepare for, or otherwise address our changing climate and its effects should not constrain the United States economy, especially in regards to global competitiveness."

This opens the door for solutions such as "fee and dividend," a market-based solution Citizens' Climate Lobby has been advocating to Congress. Fee and dividend would place a fee on carbon-based fuels at the point of entry into our economy. The collected revenue would be returned to households equally in the form of a regular dividend. Regional Economic Models, Inc. (REMI), conducted a study on CCL's proposal. REMI found that fee and dividend would be effective at reducing emissions, creating millions of jobs, and growing our economy, mainly due to the economic stimulus of returning revenue back into the economy.

The resolution was introduced exactly a week before Pope Francis addressed Congress on the need for action on climate change. The Pope called "for a courageous and responsible effort to redirect our steps and to avert the most serious effects of the environmental deterioration caused by human activity." The Pope has just released his encyclical called "Laudato Si, on the care of the common home," which urges nations to reduce carbon emissions by replacing fossil fuels with renewable, carbon-free sources of energy. Creation care is not a new topic for the Catholic Church. Popes Benedict XVI, John Paul II, and Paul VI addressed stewardship of God's creation, but Francis is the first to devote an entire encyclical to the subject.

I couldn't agree more with Pope Francis' words to Congress: "I have no doubt that the United States, and this Congress, have an important role to play. Now is the time for courageous actions and strategies, aimed at implementing a culture of care and an integrated approach to combating poverty, restoring dignity to the excluded and at the same time protecting nature."

In a statement regarding the Pope's message to Congress on his website, Rep. Perry says" "He called America a 'land of dreams' and expressed a desire that future generations will be able to live and prosper 'in a land which has inspired so many people to dream.' Let us live up to that challenge and to the blessings that God has given to our great Nation." I too, hope we can live up to that challenge. We can start by reducing the carbon pollution that threatens the prosperity of our nation.

I'm proud to live in a state which has three co-sponsors signing on to the Gibson resolution. Representatives Costello, Fitzpatrick, and Meehan are showing true leadership in the party which has a tradition of being good stewards of our environment. Representative Perry can sign on as co-sponsor to the Gibson resolution, signaling his support in ending the polarization of this global issue, and moving forward with his colleagues across the aisle to protect American citizens, current and future, and all of creation. Please consider contacting Representative Perry and encouraging him to sign on as co-sponsor to the climate change resolution introduced by Rep. Chris Gibson.

— Jon Clark is Mid-Atlantic regional coordinator for Citizens Climate Lobby and lives in Dover.

LETTER: Climate change writing on the wall
York Dispatch
POSTED:   10/01/2015 09:24:04 AM EDT | UPDATED:   3 DAYS AGO1 COMMENT

Earlier this month, the next generation of Pennsylvanians got a whole lot safer. Sen. Bob Casey announced his support for the Clean Power Plan, which is the biggest step our nation has ever taken to avert the extreme weather, smog and species extinction that accompany climate change.

Sen. Casey has joined Pope Francis in insisting that climate change be treated as the moral issue that it is. Now, we know that he will face enormous opposition from the biggest polluters and climate deniers — the same ones who called Pope Francis "dangerous" for saying that we have a moral imperative to address climate change.

At the end of the day though, the writing is on the wall: Over 200,000 Pennsylvanians have called for action on climate, and we stand with the senator.

Global Warming Advocate

I was there: Pope Francis shined amazing grace on the White House lawn (column)
By Mitchell C. Hescox
UPDATED:   09/24/2015 08:21:42 AM EDT

Pope Francis talks as President Barack Obama listens Wednesday during a state arrival ceremony on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington.
Pope Francis talks as President Barack Obama listens Wednesday during a state arrival ceremony on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington. (L'Osservatore Romano/Pool Photo via AP)

For a coal miner's son from the little coal mining town of Blandburg, Pa. to witness history remains an honor beyond my dreams. Since becoming the president of The Evangelical Environmental Network, I have talked with the President of the United States and I call the head of the Environmental Protection Agency a friend. I have developed great relationships with influential pastors and business leaders. Yet Wednesday, Sept. 23, 2015 tops them all.

Standing on the White House's South Lawn and watching Pope Francis welcomed to the United States, the amazing grace of Jesus shined through a unique man. President Obama told Pope Francis, "In your humility, your embrace of simplicity, in the gentleness of your words and the generosity of your spirit, we see a living example of Jesus' teachings, a leader whose moral authority comes not just through words but also through deeds."

As an evangelical Christian, Pope Francis is not the head of my church. But Pope Francis is perhaps the most important Christian leader of our generation simply because he is a living example of Jesus' teaching guided by that shining grace.

Mercy, love and hope shined through the brief welcoming ceremony. Perfect strangers chatted like old friends, and people went out of their way to help each other. Shortly before the official start, a friend of mine who also happened to be at the White House ran into me and stood beside me. After a few minutes, he started to sway and suddenly he collapsed into my arms. Before, I could gently lay him on the ground, bystanders rushed to help. Some helped get him safely on the grass, others called out for a doctor, another rushed to the first aid tent, and several others formed a wide protective circle allowing the professionals to offer aid. Regardless of political party, not caring about race or religion, people helped a person in need.
That's the grace I saw between Pope Francis and President Obama as well. Each of them have profound differences, as well as sharing many common concerns. Yet, grace bridged the differences to create a sense of common purpose even as we acknowledge our differences. It's a model for us as individuals, our families and our state and national leaders. Far too often, we are so devoid of grace we find no common ground.

It's time to stop dehumanizing one another from within our ideological bastions, and allow grace to shine through each of us working for hope for all God's children and our common home. Pope Francis said, "We know by faith that the Creator does not abandon us; He never forsakes his loving plan or repents of having created us. Humanity has the ability to work together in building our common home."

Some will disagree with Pope Francis for his moral support of climate change and see it as political. I myself am in agreement with Pope Francis, as I consider climate change the greatest moral challenge of our generation and the greatest opportunity for hope. However, even those who disagree with climate change must admit that the Pennsylvania coal industry has no future and our manufacturing base continues to dwindle.

Coal has only a few thousand jobs left in our commonwealth, and while the coal industry provided some benefits for a century, its costs were born in our children's lungs, hearts and minds as well as severe damage to our waters and lands.

We also continue to lose good-paying jobs as demonstrated recently by another longtime York manufacturer announcing a plant closing. We must rebuild our economy and our manufacturing to provide hope for a sustainable future. And according to business giants like Bloomberg and CP Morgan Chase, the clean energy transition will make it happen.

So, let's quit building walls around our ideological positions, allow grace a chance to find common ground and work together. My hope and prayer is that Pope Francis' presence in the United States inspires amazing grace to shine through us. No matter if you are a person of faith or simply one of good will, we need grace to open us up to working together for the benefit of all humanity.

Only the future will tell about the impact of this week, but as a Christian, I believe I witnessed history. May Amazing Grace shine through us all and make it a reality.

The Rev. Mitchell C. Hescox is president of The Evangelical Environmental Network. He lives in New Freedom.

Scott Perry must fight climate change (letter)
York Daily Record
UPDATED:   09/23/2015 04:36:24 PM EDT

Last Thursday, 11 Republicans started the conversation on the need for addressing climate change and doing so in a fiscally responsible manner. Three Republican representatives from Pennsylvania, Reps. Costello, Meehan and Fitzpatrick, joined eight other Republicans in introducing a resolution in the House of Representatives calling for the House to commit “to working constructively, using our tradition of American ingenuity, innovation, and exceptionalism, to create and support economically viable, and broadly supported private and public solutions to study and address the causes and effects of measured changes to our global and regional climates, including mitigation efforts and efforts to balance human activities that have been found to have an impact.”

Kudos to these 11 Republicans for caring about climate change and urging Congress to take action. The resolution also calls for “any efforts to mitigate the risks of, prepare for, or otherwise address our changing climate and its effects should not constrain the United States economy.” 

Rep. Costello, Meehan and Fitzpatrick are showing true leadership on climate change. The Pentagon calls climate change a threat to our national security. 

Ninety-seven percent of scientists agree the earth is warming due to burning fossil fuels and the evidence is absolutely overwhelming. Our national and economic security depends on identifying threats and reducing the risk of a negative outcome.
Climate change ranks at the top of threats to our security.
I urge Rep. Scott Perry to join in cosponsoring the climate change resolution Chris Gibson, R-N.Y., introduced, along with the 10 other Republicans. I also urge York County residents to contact his office and respectfully voice your support for the Gibson climate change resolution. Conserving our resources and conserving the planet for future generations is the conservative thing to do.

— Porter Hedge, Spring Garden Township

A theory represents pinnacle of scientific knowledge, understanding (column)
By Keith Peterman
UPDATED:   09/18/2015 12:04:13 PM EDT3 COMMENTS


A decade ago, the Kitzmiller versus Dover Area School District trial determined that the school-board-ordered teaching of Intelligent Design did not belong in the science classroom. The federal court upheld the curricular integrity of the biology classroom, ruling that teaching of the origin of life should be based on scientific theory (Darwin's Theory of Evolution), not religious belief (Intelligent Design, a form of Creationism).

On this 10th anniversary of that precedent-setting trial, we in York County should take pause and consider a parallel conflict raging between the robust scientific Theory of Climate Change versus ideologies framing climate change as just a political issue.

When a friend dismisses your assertions on climate change by declaring, "Oh, that's just theoretical," what is (s)he implying? "That's just theoretical" for the general public often translates as "your claim is unsubstantiated, dubious or unsupported." But, what does "theory" mean to the scientist?

A scientific theory is the outcome of rigorous studies based on the scientific method, which is the method of inquiry employed by scientists. Be cautioned that there is no rigid, single scientific method. Rather, it is our approach to understanding how nature works.

Observations: To begin, scientists make observations. This is the foundation of scientific thinking. These may be qualitative observations — relating to descriptions or distinctive characteristics — or they may be quantitative observations — relating to measurable quantities. Quantitative observations, often obtained with instruments, are most useful because they allow scientists to collect data that can be compiled and analyzed. The analysis of data may produce trends that can be compared.

Law: If multiple investigators repeatedly make the same observations under many different situations and there are no exceptions, a summary statement of these universal observations may be written — often in mathematical form — as a scientific law. A scientific law must always apply under the same set of conditions, summarizing past observations and concomitantly predicting future observations.

Hypothesis: Scientific laws describe how nature behaves. But, scientists also want to know why nature works the way it does. The scientist will set forth a proposal called a hypothesis, which is a testable explanation for an observable phenomenon. A hypothesis must be falsifiable. This means that scientists must be able to test the hypothesis. If it can't be tested, it isn't a scientific hypothesis — this is what distinguishes science from speculation or belief.

Experiment: A controlled set of procedural steps are used to test a hypothesis. A well-designed experiment provides a valid test that will either support or falsify the hypothesis. If the results do not support the proposed explanation, the hypothesis is found to be false and it is discarded. However, if the hypothesis is supported by some, but not all of the tests, it may be revised and then retested. The process of testing, revising and retesting may be repeated multiple times in order to refine the hypothesis.

Theory: A hypothesis that has been tested and supported by experiments over and over again may result in a scientific theory. A theory is a concept that unifies a broad range of observations within the natural world. A theory is a simplified model that helps us understand what a natural phenomenon is, explain how and why the phenomenon occurs, and make predictions of behavior beyond the observations or law from which it was developed. A well-established theory represents the pinnacle of scientific knowledge and understanding.

Additional experiments: Science is never done; it is not static. Science is an enduring, continuing process. Additional experiments continue to test the theory. Even a well-founded theory is open to revision as we gather more information or methods for testing the theory. Each time an experiment supports the theory, it further confirms the validity of the theory. If, however, predictions are not supported by an experiment, the model must be revised. This is the nature of science; it advances through a process of objective, verifiable observation, inquiry, testing and retesting that leads to logically consistent conclusions.

Scientific theories such as the Theory of Evolution, Theory of Climate Change, and The Atomic Theory are robust and well established through decades of scientific studies.

Therefore, the next time your friend dismisses "climate change" as just "theoretical," you can respond, "You are absolutely correct!"

The Climate Change Theory explains why we are observing rising sea levels, melting of glaciers, changes to our global water cycle, droughts, extreme weather events, and more.

Keith Peterman is chemistry professor at York College. Read his blog, Global Hot Topic, at yorkblog.com/hot.

LETTER: Air pollution not 'free'
York Dispatch
POSTED:   08/18/2015 09:42:00 AM EDT | UPDATED:   19 DAYS AGO

Thank you for the article "Changes coming at plant," regarding Brunner Island's conversion to a natural gas/coal fired power plant. The amount of carbon pollution (the equivalent of 1.3 million cars annually) coming from Brunner Island is staggering. It's no wonder our air quality in York County consistently receives a failing grade from the American Lung Association. The number of children in Pennsylvania under the age of 18 with asthma (277,000) is absolutely shameful.

The president's move to protect our air quality and the climate with the Clean Power Plan is a huge step in the right direction. Regulation is not always the most desirable way to deal with the problem, but it's necessary given the market distortion of the fossil fuels industry in not paying for their damages.

Congress allows the industry to pollute our air and water at no cost to them. This gives the fossil fuels industry a competitive advantage over non-polluting sources of energy like wind and solar. Congress is picking fossil fuels as the "winner" by allowing power plants like Brunner Island to continue to pollute our children's' lungs at no cost to industry. If you are a parent of one of these 277,000 children who has to watch your child suffer from respiratory illness and pay the costs of their medication, you should be asking Rep. Scott Perry and our other representatives in Congress why Congress continues to allow our atmosphere to be treated as a free dumping ground for carbon pollution.

Air pollution is not free; somebody pays. Right now, your child is paying. You should also ask them if they support the president's Clean Power Plan and if not, what plan they have to reduce carbon pollution in York County and across the nation. Saying there is no problem is a waste of our time and is a slap in the face of every citizen of York County forced to breathe the noxious air coming from Brunner Islands' smoke stacks.

A very promising alternative solution to regulation called "fee and dividend" is being talked about much lately. Putting a steadily rising fee on fossil fuels and returning 100 percent of the revenue equally back to consumers makes perfect sense. Those of us with small carbon footprints have the opportunity to make money monthly, while the ones doing the bulk of the polluting must pay for the privilege to do so. It's only fair.


Spring Garden Twp.

Follow the money on gas taxes (letter)
UPDATED:   08/06/2015 04:05:10 PM EDT

Yes, Tom Wolf and Joe Scarnati underscore differences holding up our state budget, but what you don’t know is Joe Scarnati has accepted $217,575 from the oil and gas companies, which are located at followthemoney.org. In the related Aug. 6 York Daily Record article it states, “Scarnati also charged that Wolf’s proposal to impose a severance tax on natural-gas drilling, as other major gas producing states already do, would hurt job growth.” Would it?

First, gas drillers have paid more than $600 million in impact fee taxes from 2011 to 2013. Despite the name, the impact fee functions as a tax, as funds are used for government projects only tangentially related to gas drilling. In addition, gas drillers pay taxes common to every business operating in Pennsylvania, including the corporate income tax, personal income tax, and sales tax. This resulted in Pennsylvania collecting $318 million in other state taxes from the gas drilling companies since 2009.

Second, the June 1, 2015 testimony of Nathan A. Benefield to the Pennsylvania Senate Environmental Resources Energy Committee and Finance Committee that addresses the natural gas severance tax addresses it for school use. “Pennsylvania already spends $3,000 more per student than the national average. PA ranks 10th in spending per student, according to NCES, and sixth in revenue per student according to the NEA.

Our state share, as a percentage of the total, is less than most states, but state funding per student ranks 25th, mirroring the national average.”

Lastly, Mr. Benefield rightly concludes, “Pennsylvania’s education woes stem not from a lack of funding, but from a broken funding system and an ongoing pension crisis. That’s a problem new taxes simply cannot fix.” Really? The West Virginia gas severance tax is 5 percent, and Texas is 7.5 percent — so what should the Pennsylvania gas severance tax be?

— Bob Patzer, York

Climate change a real threat (letter)
UPDATED:   08/04/2015 03:22:18 PM EDT

The Pentagon is warning us of a dire threat. This threat has the ability to cause the destruction of our coastal cities. It can spread new diseases that we’ve never seen before in the United States. It can render our homeland unable to feed itself by turning our croplands into deserts. It can throw one disaster after another at us, killing our citizens, draining our economy and crumbling our infrastructure. It can threaten our freshwater supplies by destroying our glaciers and reducing our snowpack. 

The Department of Defense sees this threat as “a present security threat.” We are in danger now. Scientists are equally alarmed at this threat. According to the Pentagon, this is an “urgent and growing threat to our national security, contributing to increased natural disasters, refugee flows, and conflicts over basic resources such as food and water.” These impacts are happening now and are expected to continually worsen. Not only is our homeland under attack from this threat, every other nation on earth is threatened as well. The Pentagon warns this threat can undermine the “ability of governments to meet the basic needs of their populations.” 

This greatly increases the risk of instability and conflict all over the world; instability and conflict the United States will undoubtedly get involved in, costing the homeland in lives and dollars.
Some in Congress are telling us this threat is bogus and we have nothing to worry about. They tell us this threat is not real and the experts are wrong, even though we can easily see the assault beginning. We can’t just watch our nation go down to climate change and listen to some in Congress tell us it is not real. If this threat to us were from another nation, Congress would respond immediately, eliminating the threat. Congress should act swiftly and decisively by eliminating the carbon pollution that threatens our nation.

— Mike Omlor, Washington Township

OP-ED: Carbon pollution a threat to national security
Citizens' Climate Lobby
POSTED:   07/28/2015 11:29:36 AM EDT

"Climate change poses another significant challenge for the United States and the world at large. As greenhouse gas emissions increase, sea levels are rising, average global temperatures are increasing, and severe weather patterns are accelerating. ... Climate change may exacerbate water scarcity and lead to sharp increases in food costs. The pressures caused by climate change will influence resource competition while placing additional burdens on economies, societies, and governance institutions around the world. These effects are threat multipliers that will aggravate stressors abroad such as poverty, environmental degradation, political instability, and social tensions — conditions that can enable terrorist activity and other forms of violence."

These are words from The 2014 Quadrennial Defense Review which called climate change a "significant challenge for the United States and the world at large." The U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) takes climate change very seriously as a risk to U.S. national security. Multiple documents such as the Quadrennial Defense Review and the Arctic Strategy have been produced by the DOD to lay out these risks and strategically prepare for them.

A prime example of climate change exacerbating water scarcity, aggravating social tensions and enabling terrorist activity is the Syrian civil war. For years, security and climate experts have made the connection of climate change to Syria's civil war. From 2006-11, 60 percent of Syria's land experienced "the worst long-term drought and most severe set of crop failures since agricultural civilizations began in the Fertile Crescent many millennia ago," according to one expert.

In 2009, the UN and the International Federation of the Red Cross reported over 800,000 Syrians lost their entire livelihoods to the drought. The economic and human costs to Syrians were staggering. According to a 2010 New York Times story, "The four-year drought in Syria has pushed two million to three million people into extreme poverty. ... Herders in the country's northeast have lost 85 percent of their livestock, and at least 1.3 million people have been affected."

As farmers lost their crops and herders lost their livestock, they mass migrated from the rural areas to the cities. They were forced to compete for scarce job opportunities as well as more scarce water resources. Syria has also been coping with an influx of Iraqi refugees since the U.S. invasion in 2003, putting additional stress on the population. According to the Center for Climate and Security, adding to these factors: "This problem has been compounded by poor governance. The al-Assad regime has, by most accounts except their own, criminally combined mismanagement and neglect of Syria's natural resources, which have contributed to water shortages and land desertification."

Several studies linked the drought in Syria with climate change, including a 2011 NOAA study that concluded "human-caused climate change (is now) a major factor in more frequent Mediterranean droughts." A March 2015 National Academies of Sciences study, "Climate change in the Fertile Crescent and implications of the recent Syrian drought," found that global warming made Syria's 2006 to 2010 drought two to three times more likely.

Syria is not the only place the impacts of global warming can be seen. Global warming is driving climate change faster in the Arctic than anywhere else on earth. According to the Center for Climate and Security, "In the Arctic, dramatic changes to sea ice cover, driven in large part by climate change, may have a significant impact on resource disputes, particularly given a petroleum-rich sea bed and hazy territorial boundaries. The expected increase in commercial activities in the Arctic may also lead to security complications — as nations attempt to manage large stretches of open ocean that were previously inaccessible." For these reasons, the Department of Defense has the Arctic Strategy.

Congress would be wise to take climate change and its threat to our national security seriously. The military takes it seriously because, as one expert put it, "climate change is what risk analysts would call a 'high probability, high impact' risk, meaning that it is very likely to occur (between 90 percent and 97 percent), and will have a very large and widespread impact on security."

One thing is certain, the fossil fuels industry in the U.S. is allowed to extract massive amounts of fossil fuels and release the carbon pollution contained within at no cost to them. The planet (and society) will continue to shoulder the economic, ecological and human costs of carbon pollution. These costs will continue to grow and our security will continue to deteriorate as our civilization, which has risen during a time of climate stability, is forced to deal with an increasingly unstable climate. Adding these costs to the price of fossil fuels will send a signal to the market and spur investment in clean, carbon-free sources of energy and reduce the risks to our national security.

— Jon Clark is mid-Atlantic regional coordinator for Citizens' Climate Lobby and lives in Dover.

OP-ED: Climate, open primaries earn Young Awards
POSTED:   07/06/2015 11:02:05 AM EDT | UPDATED:   18 DAYS AGO0 COMMENTS

Opening Pennsylvania's primaries and leaving climate science to scientists were the topics of our Hiram Young Award winners for May and June.

The results of the May primary were enough to convince Vic Castellano of Springettsbury Township to call for opening Pennsylvania's nominating contests to all voters, regardless of their party affiliation.

And Washington Township resident Mike Omlor took presidential candidate Rick Santorum to task last month for substituting his opinion of climate change for the scientific research that has convinced 97 percent of the experts that the phenomenom is real.

Named in honor of our founder, the Hiram Young Award is given each month to a letter-writer who weighed in recently on the issues, large and small, affecting our community.

Castellano and Omlor will be invited to come in for coffee with our editorial board to see how we form our opinions — and perhaps offer their own on the topic of the day.

Opinion submissions should be directed to editorial page editor Patrick DeLany via e-mail at letters@yorkdispatch.com. Letters should be 400 words or less, while Other Voices op-eds can be up to 800 words.

For verification purposes, all letters must be signed by the writer and should include his or her full address and daytime telephone number. Call DeLany at 505-5418 with questions.

Here are the winning letters:


Open Pa.'s primaries

Enough is enough. It's time for Pennsylvania's open primary elections to begin. Do you believe our constitutional right to freedom of speech is abridged?

Well, I do.

In the primary election, it is my right to vote for the candidate of my choice, not the parties. I look at the person, the content of his/her character, the one to best serve the people. To do so now may require a person to temporarily divorce oneself from their political party affiliation and be deemed a turncoat or traitor to the party. What a price to pay for freedom of choice. So unjust.

This brings to mind Susan Byrnes, a candidate for county commissioner. She is one of many voters who changed party lines just to support Tom Wolf for governor in the primary election. She endured an unjust attack on her character for having the courage to exercise her right to vote for the person of her choice. It has been done, it is done, and it will continue under this archaic law until it is changed.

To assume that our qualified candidates for county commissioner hold animosity or discontent for one another is absurd.

I believe all elected Republican and Democratic commissioners can work together, having the best interest of their constituents in mind.

It is time for Gov. Wolf and the General Assembly in Harrisburg to come to the aid of their party. The people have spoken. We rally around the call for open primary elections.


Springettsbury Twp.


Santorum should take own advice

Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum needs to follow Rick Santorum's advice. On June 18, the pope is expected to release his much anticipated encyclical on the environment, a statement from the Catholic Church on the moral issues associated with climate change, in hopes of rallying Catholics worldwide and having an impact on climate negotiations being held in Paris this December.

In a Philadelphia radio station interview this week, Rick Santorum gave some excellent advice, saying, "We probably are better off leaving science to the scientists." Santorum also told radio host Dom Giordano, "The church has gotten it wrong a few times on science."

But the church is siding with science, as 97 percent of climate scientists agree that we need dramatically reduce carbon dioxide emissions from burning fossil fuels to prevent the planet from catastrophic warming.

If only Rick Santorum would follow his own advice and stop dismissing the scientific consensus and now the Catholic Church. Instead, he is substituting his own opinion for science and clinging to denial.

Last year was the warmest year on record, according to NASA, and this year is on track to beat 2014 as warmest on record. Global warming is not going away. Closing our eyes and wishing the problem away is no solution.

I for one will make sure I seek out the climate change views of every presidential candidate and vote for a leader who will listen to what the science, and now the pope, is telling us. I pray they soon start listening.

Washington Twp.

Warming threatens national security (letter)
UPDATED:   07/22/2015 02:08:22 PM EDT

Re: “Did Rep. Perry read Pentagon climate change report?” (July 21). This letter shows why it seems Perry didn’t read the recent Defense Department Report which called climate change a threat to our national security. 

Perry must also be disregarding scientific findings published earlier this year in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, which found that an extended, severe drought in Syria — made two to three times worse by climate change — caused crop failures that forced approximately 1.5 million desperate ex-farmers into Syria’s cities. This helped create internal conflict and the conditions that facilitated the growth of ISIS.

It’s the first duty of our congressional representatives to keep the American people safe, and it’s also their responsibility to listen to the National Academy of Sciences, which was created to serve as the primary advisory body to the U.S. Congress. There is no higher scientific authority.

Climate change is not only a threat to our national security, it’s an existential threat to life on this planet, again, according to the National Academy of Sciences. If we have representatives in Congress who understand that, then we can our cut carbon emissions in half in 20 years, and cut China’s emission too, while creating millions of U.S. jobs, adding tens of billions to our GDP annually and putting extra cash in the average American’s pocket every month. (REMI)

It’s already worked in British Columbia for seven years (The Economist), lowering taxes and energy bills and improving their economy more than the rest of Canada. (The Economist)

Make fossil fuels, rather than taxpayers, pay for the cost of their carbon pollution. Make China pay an import tax to us until they lower their greenhouse gas emissions. Sound good? See the volunteer, bipartisan Citizens Climate Lobby website to see how this free-market solution works.

— Pete Kuntz, Manheim Township

Flying fuel-free (letter)
UPDATED:   07/22/2015 02:07:35 PM EDT

Solar Impulse 2 was recently flown by Andre Borschburg with only solar panels and modest battery storage from Japan to Hawaii, getting it to 51 percent of its way around the globe. Flying over two serious cold fronts surmounted weather concerns.

This ranks with the Wright Brothers making the first controlled flight in 1903 and Louis Bleriot being the first to cross the English Channel in 1909. The very first truly long-distance flight without fuel was just made, and we lucky buggers got to be around to witness it.

Was it perfect? No. The battery packs overheated with the first morning recharge and never really cooled down enough for the rest of the flight, requiring redesigning their housings, currently in progress. That’s OK, Bleriot’s flight was saved by a brief shower cooling his overheated Anzani 3-cylinder. The Vin Fiz Wright biplane that flew across the U.S. in 1911 crashed so many times that nearly every part was replaced at least once by the time it got to California.

Installed solar electric power increases 58 percent a year as costs decrease 14 percent a year. Installed wind power increases 48 percent a year as its costs decrease about 10 percent  a year. Batteries improve about 7 percent a year. We’re pretty much at the threshold past which it makes little fiscal sense to remain fully tethered to fossil fuel supplies.

I am grateful to be alive to witness serious aeronautical history we can very proudly pass on to our kids.

The technologies of the Solar Impulse 2 can also help everyday normal things work better.

And it wouldn’t have happened without recognition that fossil fuels need to be left in the ground for sake of the environment those kids will all have to live in.

— Roger Twitchell, York

Did Rep. Perry read Pentagon climate change report? (letter)
UPDATED:   07/21/2015 12:07:35 PM EDT

The Pentagon’s recent Quadrennial Defense Report called climate change a threat to our national security. I am stunned by Rep. Scott Perry’s irresponsible dismissal of this report. Of all the myriad authorities warning about the threat of climate change, I would expect Mr. Perry to take this one seriously. But in his latest newsletter, he challenges the Department of Defense in their assessment that climate change is a threat. He says, “DHS reported that extreme weather caused by climate change could spur militant groups to become active, an assertion that is simply ridiculous. Are the American people really to believe that the increased operations by ISIS are due to hot weather or a shortage of water? Such assertions are ridiculous, and frankly, insulting.” He must not have even read the report.

The QDR says climate change has the ability to “devastate homes, land, and infrastructure” and “may exacerbate water scarcity and lead to sharp increases in food costs. ... the desperation that many people, particularly in poorer regions, will face due to climate change could lead to ‘resource competition’ and even ‘terrorist activity’. These effects are threat multipliers that will aggravate stressors abroad such as poverty, environmental degradation, political instability, and social tensions — conditions that can enable terrorist activity and other forms of violence.”

 Mr.  Perry, why bother having scientists if you disregard the findings of 97 percent of the experts in the field of climate science and substitute your own opinion for the facts? Mr. Perry, why bother having a Quadrennial Defense Report to assess the threats that Americans face? Why have experts produce a game plan to reduce or eliminate the threats, only to belittle them? Please read the report, Rep. Perry. It might open your eyes. 

— Porter Hedge, Spring Garden Township

Garden grows community: Two congregations, Crispus Attucks and families come together to plant

By Caitlin Kerfin

ckerfin@ydr.com @ckerfin on Twitter

UPDATED:   07/17/2015 04:30:31 PM EDT0 COMMENTS

Video: See the fruits of a joint community garden

The Unitarian Universalist Congregation of York is social justice-focused. Its members believe they should care for the world and take care of the needy, said Richard Burrill, a member of the congregation.

Nearby St. Paul's Lutheran Church had a food pantry, and the Unitarian congregation had the land that needed to be used more productively, said Steve Snell, a member of the congregation who is in charge of its community garden. The two congregations in York wanted to serve the neighborhood they share.

Julie Amberg, of Springettsbury Township and a member of the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of York weeds at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation
Julie Amberg, of Springettsbury Township and a member of the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of York weeds at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of York, in York. The Unitarian church and St. Paul's Lutheran come together to work on this community garden that also has a section for family plots. Families are from the congregation as well as the community. It's in its 5th year and grows fresh fruits and vegetables for St Paul's Lutheran church pantry. They have about 7 acres of property. (Paul Kuehnel - York Daily Record/ Sunday News)

"Faith needs to include action," Snell said. "We have to walk the walk, and as a result my faith leads me to want to give back to the larger community to make a difference," he said.

So, about five years ago the congregation decided to start a community garden and partnered with St. Paul's Lutheran, right down the road off George Street.

"Jesus told us to feed his people, and so that's what we do," said Rhada Hartmann, president of St. Paul's church council.

The now 60-by-60-foot garden plot is divided into three sections, one used by the Unitarian congregation and the other by St. Paul's. All of the fresh produce from those two plots are harvested Monday mornings and donated to St. Paul's food pantry. The third section is used by Crispus Attucks and families. There are additional family plots on the opposite side of the Unitarian congregation's 7 acres.

Those that utilize the pantry are referred to St. Paul's or stop in the church to register. The number of people in the family determines how much food is distributed. The vegetables are in addition to the things they already receive such as canned and dry goods. Each client comes once a month on a Tuesday morning.

Kiwi berries grow on a fence at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of York.
Kiwi berries grow on a fence at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of York. (Paul Kuehnel - York Daily Record/ Sunday News)

Each organization chooses what to grow in its respective section of the garden, but the two congregations grow fruits and vegetables based mostly on clients' taste. They had a lot of strawberries this season and are starting to harvest squash. They also have blueberry bushes, apple trees and are growing asparagus, grapes and tomatoes. Think of a fruit or vegetable and they're probably growing it. They also have beehives.

The family plots are used by the community, and fewer than half of the people who use them are from the congregation.

"We want to get as much as possible out of the space we have and plant things that will keep well," said Suzannah Alexander, member of the Unitarian congregation. She and her four children volunteer in the garden every week.

The volunteers spend many hours working on the garden. Caring for plants takes a lot of time and commitment, said Bobby Simpson, CEO of Crispus Attucks.

But at the end of the season, the volunteers are able to enjoy the fruits of their labor with a shared harvest dinner. It's a time for both congregations to get together outside of the garden setting and share a meal, Hartmann said.

How to get involved

For more information about St. Paul's Lutheran Church food pantry, call 717-843-8155.

To get involved in the community garden, visit www.uucy.org/social-justice-team.html.

Eggplant in one of the community gardens at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of York.
Eggplant in one of the community gardens at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of York. (Paul Kuehnel - York Daily Record/ Sunday News)


Churches' community garden to feed the poor is thriving

Annual mother-daughter tea at Crispus Attucks helps to empower young girls

Crispus Attucks receives Martin Luther King Jr. Service Award as volunteers hit the streets for day of service

Steve Snell, of Windsor Township and a member of the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of York, walks through the community gardens at the Unitarian
Steve Snell, of Windsor Township and a member of the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of York, walks through the community gardens at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of York. (Paul Kuehnel - York Daily Record/ Sunday News)

LETTER: Think twice before voting for Perry again
York Dispatch
POSTED:   07/15/2015 10:57:57 AM EDT

Today, I received U.S. Rep. Scott Perry's "weekly update." I think I will unsubscribe from this to protect my blood pressure, which is rising faster than sea level.

Last year's Homeland Security Review stated, quite correctly, that climate change and its effects "present major areas of homeland security risk." Mr. Perry exclaims that he is "shocked that the department continues to make climate change a top homeland security priority while we have risks from terrorist groups, cyberattacks ..."

The departments of Homeland Security, Interior, Agriculture, etc., and all branches of the military face enormous challenges from climate change, in addition to numerous current threats. We, as a nation, must address all these issues, and our so-called representatives need to understand and act on all the threats, without denigrating the work of serious, informed, capable public servants at DHS.

Mr. Perry says assertions that climate change will induce more security threats "are ridiculous, and frankly, insulting." What is truly shocking and insulting is that he assumes that you, his reader/constituent, are ignorant and uninformed, so that you will agree with his statements and get caught-up in his destructive negativity.

There is no doubt the onslaught of climate change can destroy much of the world's agriculture and human habitat, including much our own. There will be wide-spread, increased pressure to find food, water and safe shelter. Such things historically lead to aggressive, militaristic, or terrorist activity, including here at home.

Also, sea level is rising fast, and will not stop before massive changes occur to shorelines. Consider, for example, the security threats to our naval bases, like Norfolk, which will need to be relocated and/or rebuilt, and the operational changes caused by deeper water in the littoral and intrusion of the sea into vast areas of lowlands. This is serious, and you know it.

If you voted Mr. Perry into office, think twice before doing so again. Our future is in your hands.



OP-ED: Growing support for fee on carbon pollution
POSTED:   06/29/2015 10:32:35 PM EDT

Last week, I joined other Citizens' Climate Lobby (CCL) volunteers from York and around the country and traveled to Washington, D.C., to voice our concern that Congress is not acting swiftly enough to reduce carbon pollution warming the planet. This was my fifth conference and lobby event.

This year about 900 volunteers from 48 states made the trip, spending their own time and money to once again ask Congress to put a price on carbon. A good-sized contingent went from Pennsylvania. CCL chapters are working hard all across the state to create the political will for Congress to pass market-based climate legislation that will reduce carbon pollution and boost our economy.

Global warming is becoming harder to ignore. The planet continues to warm, 2014 is the warmest year on record, and the first quarter of this year is again breaking records, being the warmest first quarter on record, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). NOAA also announced that last month was the wettest month for the U.S. in 121 years of record keeping. The majority of the rain fell in Texas and Oklahoma, ending their yearslong punishing drought with one month of punishing rainfall that dumped 35 trillion gallons of water on the state, enough to cover Texas in 8 inches of water.

According to the U.S. National Climate Assessment, heavy rainfall events are becoming more frequent across the country, and the amount of rain that's falling in the heaviest events is on the rise as well. The connection of a warming world to heavy rainfall events is basic atmospheric science. As air temperatures rise, the atmosphere can hold more water vapor, meaning more water dumps all at once. Researchers at Climate Central (climatecentral.org) just announced the top 50 U.S. cities experiencing the biggest increases in heavy downpours. Philadelphia was third on the list with a 360 percent increase since 1950, Harrisburg was seventh on the list with a 283 percent increase, and Lancaster was 15th with a 112 percent increase.

The increase in heavy downpours is just one indicator of climate change on our region. To learn more about how climate change is affecting our region in other ways, visit the U.S. National Climate Assessment at: http://nca2014.globalchange.gov/.

More voices are joining in the call for Congress and world leaders to act swiftly to address global warming. Pope Francis' encyclical on the environment was released just before our conference. In his encyclical, the pope calls climate change "one of the principal challenges facing humanity in our day" and talks about the "urgent need to develop policies so that, in the next few years, the emission of carbon dioxide and other highly polluting gases can be drastically reduced." CCL volunteers took one such policy called "fee and dividend" to Washington. "Fee and dividend" places a price on carbon emissions and returns all the revenue to consumers as a way to shift behavior (and investment dollars) away from fossil fuels.

Six major energy companies have signaled they are ready to pay for their carbon pollution. CEOs from global oil and gas behemoths Shell, BP, Total, Statoil, Eni and the BG Group sent a letter to Christiana Figueres, the United Nation's climate chief as well as to Laurent Fabius, France's Foreign Affairs and International Development Minister, who will also lead the Paris climate talks later this year. The letter was sent during climate talks involving 190 nations in Bonn, Germany recently.

The letter starts:

"Climate change is a critical challenge for our world. As major companies from the oil & gas sector, we recognize both the importance of the climate challenge and the importance of energy to human life and well being. We acknowledge that the current trend of greenhouse gas emissions is in excess of what the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) says is needed to limit the temperature rise to no more than 2 degrees above pre-industrial levels. ... We stand ready to play our part. ... For us to do more, we need governments across the world to provide us with clear, stable, long-term, ambitious policy frameworks. This would reduce uncertainty and help stimulate investments in the right low carbon technologies and the right resources at the right pace. We believe that a price on carbon should be a key element of these frameworks."

The swelling numbers of CCL volunteers traveling to Washington from around the country demonstrates growing concern for our changing climate. From the pope telling us we have an urgent need and a moral obligation to reduce greenhouse gases to the oil companies telling governments they need a price on carbon to help solve the climate crisis, it's clear that fee and dividend is the practical answer. Republicans finally have a market-based solution that will help to preserve our climate, a climate shared by all of life on earth.

— Jon Clark is Mid-Atlantic regional coordinator for Citizens' Climate Lobby and lives in Dover

Reasons to block the Keystone XL pipeline
POSTED:   06/24/2015 01:05:34 AM EDT | UPDATED:   10 DAYS AGO0 COMMENTS

The Keystone XL pipeline is a political lightning rod, a symbol around which have gathered stark opposing views. It's jobs versus environmental degradation. It's energy independence versus climate-change alarms. It's cool, clear water versus Koch.

Of course, each side can seem right in a narrow sort of way, depending at any given moment on how it marshals the arguments. But what really should we do about it? And where will this ongoing, difficult environmental debate, among all the others being fought right now, eventually lead?

To many people — those not paying close attention — Keystone XL must seem like a gargantuan project, looming over a vast uncertain turf. In reality, the most contentious unbuilt portions of the pipeline would stretch a mere 875 miles across Montana, South Dakota and Nebraska and would be only one link in a web of pipes already commissioned or in the works throughout the middle section of the country. Its status has been heightened and politicized because of its international border-crossing, which requires an executive-branch ruling on national security. Most domestic pipeline projects underway in these parts get relatively easy state approval, given the power that fossil-fuel interests hold over utility commissions and politicians.
In some quarters, the Keystone XL represents only a small part of a "national energy sacrifice zone" that now dominates the Great Plains.

That's according to Robin Martinez, a Kansas City, Missouri, attorney who has acquired a big-picture perspective on the project while representing an effort to block the pipeline in South Dakota.

Martinez, at a local Sierra Club meeting the other night, showed stark visual evidence of the quest for Canadian oil: Pristine boreal forests of northern Alberta have been scraped and plundered in strip-mining operations that squeeze heavy bitumen out of sandy, clayey soil and leave toxic tailing ponds behind. The dense bitumen is diluted for transport with benzene, toluene and other chemicals. Opponents fear the very real toxic risk of a rupture or pipeline corrosion — think only of the most recent pipeline disaster, off the coast of Santa Barbara, California. Supporters, including Sen. Claire McCaskill, the pragmatic Democrat from Missouri, argue that the pipeline would be less dangerous than those railroad tankers that have exploded with troubling frequency.

Martinez represents Dakota Rural Action, a grassroots organization, in a pro bono role. The pipeline developer, the TransCanada Corp., was forced to make a second attempt to gain approval in South Dakota from a friendly Public Utility Commission. The company's lawyers have successfully limited testimony by Sioux Indian tribes in the state who also are fighting the permit, opposing the pipeline on grounds related to land and water rights. Another hearing is scheduled at the end of July.

"Frankly," Martinez said, "we're not terribly optimistic, based on the commission's attitude." But even in possible defeat, he said, a significant victory would involve putting voluminous documents and testimony on the public record.

When explaining her support for Keystone XL early this year, McCaskill — disappointing her environmentally sensitive constituents — argued on behalf of the pipeline's contributions to the nation's energy security.

"(W)e can't be needlessly taking energy sources off the table," McCaskill wrote. "That's why I've also supported the design and production of cheaper, safer nuclear power, a greater role for renewables and energy storage, and increased oil and gas production on federal lands."

McCaskill never mentioned the tragic, environmental cost of exploiting Canada's tar sands in the first place. To Martinez, the Keystone XL pipeline represents just another enabling partner in our culture's addiction to fossil fuels.

Yes, the oil is flowing anyway. But let's not make it even easier for the industry to exploit this resource and to hasten the march to climate catastrophe. It would be a powerful statement to reject the Keystone XL pipeline on that basis alone.

— Steve Paul is the editorial page editor for The Kansas City Star. Readers may send him email at paul@kctstar.com.

Environmental Romans (letter)
- Roger Twitchell, York
UPDATED:   06/23/2015 01:28:42 PM EDT

also published in the York Dispatch as
LETTER: A moral imperative on climate change
POSTED:   07/02/2015 10:50:07 AM EDT 

The pope in Rome just pointed out that it is our duty to care for the earth. He says we should live in respect of nature, in cooperation with it. He points out our moral imperative to address climate change.

An earlier resident of Rome, Marcus Aurelius, declared in his Meditations, Book V on lying in a warm bed on a cold morning, “Or have I been made for this, to lie in the bed-clothes and keep myself warm? … Do you not see the little plants, the little birds, the ants, the spiders, the bees working together to put in order their several parts of the universe? And are you unwilling to do the work of a human being, and do you not make haste to do that which is according to your nature?”

Pope Francis is dipping into a very deep well, recognizing we are just another part of the universe. This goes back through Classical Stoicism at least to Socrates.

In Book II Marcus declares, “The soul does violence to itself when it turns away from any man, or even moves towards him with the intention of injuring, such as are the souls of those who are angry.” “For we are made for co-operation, like feet, like hands, like eyelids, like the rows of the upper and lower teeth. To act against one another then is contrary to nature; and it is acting against one another to be vexed and to turn away.”

To continue our violence against our own home by keeping greenhouse gas pollution free is to define ourselves as a tumor or abscess upon the universe as Marcus puts it.
Carbon pollution should be priced as the garbage it is, recognizing the universe has no garbage can.

Fracking tax not a bad idea (letter)
- Mark Laird, Windsor Township
UPDATED:   06/16/2015 04:36:47 PM EDT

Fracking tax not a bad idea (letter)

Did you know that Pennsylvania remains the largest natural gas-producing state without a severance tax? At least 36 states impose some sort of severance tax, and 31 states specifically levy taxes on the extraction of oil and gas. 

Between 10.5 percent and 74.3 percent of total state tax revenue came from severance taxes in at least six states — Alaska, Montana, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma and Wyoming. Texas just added an additional $900 million from their tax on oil and gas, to a total of over $3.4 billion annually.

So why should Pennsylvania be the only state in the nation to not charge a severance tax to these new era polluters? Taxes for the extraction of these resources is also in order. It would be one thing to keep our natural resources to ourselves, but these greedy businesses want to pollute our land and extract for free, only to export these resources out of the country. Should we allow these polluting businesses to ruin our state while they make billions on the good people of the state of Pennsylvania?

I do not think that we should be extracting any of these resources from Pennsylvania, but if we must, only for what we need domestically, and with a tax to help fund our schools, roads and other infrastructure, while at the same time leaving money in a fund to protect those natural resources, mainly water that could be destroyed by these gas behemoths. It may be years until we know the full extent of the damages these polluters will have caused our state.

If they want our gas from the Marcellus Shale, then let them pay for it.

Once the water is gone, will these polluters be responsible to bring us clean water, or will we give them a small fine and let them go? After they destroy our other precious natural resources, fines for these polluters will not be enough. Jail time would not be adequate. Did we not learn from the BP disaster in the Gulf of Mexico?

We are making solar energy and wind energy right here in Pennsylvania, and I believe we should be investing in alternative energy solutions rather than destroying pristine parts of this state for the good of a bunch of polluters. These new renewable resource industries can also make good-paying jobs for the state of Pennsylvania without destroying the lands in which we live.

New York state has banned fracking altogether, which puts Pennsylvania in a good position to leverage some of that corporate greed.

Thank God for this chemist pope (letter)
- Pete Kuntz, Lancaster
UPDATED:   06/16/2015 04:35:55 PM EDT

Thank God for this chemist pope (letter)

Re: “Listen to the pope on global warming” (June 12): Good advice.

I think God may have sent us a pope with a chemistry degree for a reason. Pope Francis clearly takes seriously God’s admonition to us to care for his creation, and he wants us to take it seriously too. Furthermore, knows his science. 

Pope Francis can distinguish between real, peer-reviewed climate science and the pseudoscience clandestinely fabricated by fossil fuel corporations. (Scientific American online, “Dark Money” and “How to Win Friends and Bamboozle People About Climate Change.”) 

The Heartland Institute, which is secretly funded by the oil billionaires, the Koch brothers and ExxonMobil, (DeSmog Blog, one of TIME’s Top Ten Blogs) recently sent a delegation of its industry-compliant “scientists” to Rome to convince the pope not to issue his encyclical about manmade global warming. They were turned away. The pope relies on hundreds of the world’s top climate scientists, the IPCC.

The solution to climate change — clean energy — will create millions of jobs and add tens of billions to our GDP annually, according to thousands of major economists, nine of them Nobel winners. The free market can phase out fossil fuels and eliminate over 30,000 U.S. deaths annually from carbon pollution (WHO). No government regulations or expenditures required.

An escalating carbon pollution tax on all fossil fuels (and imports on carbon polluters like China, till they cut their emissions) that’s given directly to all Americans every month would give middle-class and lower-income people the money to buy clean energy and US products and make a profit (Citizens Climate Lobby).

We’d also avert the “catastrophic’ global warming every scientific body of national and international standing is warning about (NASA). And the pope agrees with them. I think he’d approve of The Citizens Climate Lobby.

The winds of change are coming (letter)
- Porter Hedge, Spring Garden Township
UPDATED:   06/15/2015 10:49:59 AM EDT

The article “G-7 leaders set far-off goal to move away from fossil fuels” is encouraging news. It’s exciting to see the transition from the era of dirty, climate-changing fossil fuels to an era of clean, carbon-free forms of energy. 
Ninety-seven percent of climate scientists say we need to leave the majority of remaining fossil fuels in the ground to have any hope of limiting global warming to two degrees Celsius, the number agreed to by nations at past climate change talks.

Even oil-rich Saudi Arabia is moving away from fossil fuels. Saudi oil minister Ali Al-Naimi told a business and climate conference in Paris recently: “In Saudi Arabia, we recognize that eventually, one of these days, we are not going to need fossil fuels, I don’t know when, in 2040, 2050... so we have embarked on a program to develop solar energy.” 
The economics of clean energy is helping to speed the transition. According to the investment firm Lazard Capital, over the last five years, the price of new wind power in the U.S. has dropped 58 percent, and the price of new solar power has dropped 78 percent. Utility-scale solar in the Southwest is now at times cheaper than new natural gas plants.

Pope Francis is expected to make climate change a priority for the Catholic Church with the upcoming June 18 release of the encyclical “Laudato si (Be Praised), On the Care of our Common Home.” This comes just months before all the nations in the world gather in Paris to negotiate a legally binding climate change agreement.

A global divestment movement, supported by economic and moral justifications, will only continue to grow as long-term investment in fossil fuels is looking increasingly risky and the economics of clean energy look more attractive. Free energy available to all by harnessing the blowing wind and shining sun is an idea whose time has come, and as Victor Hugo said, “Nothing is more powerful than an idea whose time has come.” 

Science, not superstition, GOP (letter)
- Joe Ambrosio, Springettsbury Township
UPDATED:   06/15/2015 10:51:40 AM EDT

Please, somebody explain to me why some GOP lawmakers either in Washington or at the state and local level think abortion, gay marriage, the science of evolution, President Obama or the decline of “family values”  has anything to do with floods, hurricanes, drought, wildfires, mudslides, sinkholes, hailstones, or the Chicago Cubs’ inability to win a World Series in over a century.

I just don’t get it. The last time I looked out my window I did not see the Middle Ages. How do these people get elected, let alone stay in office? I think God has a lot more important stuff to do (like running the universe) than to punish the people of Southern California because Bob and Dave want to get hitched.
These elected official needs to get to work.

EDITORIAL: Go outside and play!
York Dispatch
POSTED:   06/15/2015 08:38:01 AM EDT

There is this story we Gen Xers and Baby Boomers like to tell about our youth.

You know, the youth in which there was no such thing as sitting around playing your video games or binge watching online streaming video.

That's when our parents shoved us out the door after breakfast and told us to come back when the street lights came on. We rode our bikes, played a pickup game of baseball or basketball, played hide-and-seek and ran around until we dropped.

We were barefoot in our version of the story, so we returned home with dirty feet, hands, and faces, exhausted and happy.

While that story may become more idealized with time, the basics are pretty true to life in the '60s, '70s and '80s for many kids. We did start watching more television in the 70s and 80s but we moved around more than kids are today.

It alarms us that, according to a report this past week by Dispatch education reporter Jessica Schladebeck, state data shows nearly half of Yorkers under the age of 18 are at an unhealthy weight.

We'd like to encourage parents to join with local organizations to encourage children to live healthier lifestyles.

Local school districts, WellSpan and the YMCA are taking the lead and coming up with unique ways to encourage students to eat well and exercise.

Dover Area School District has partnered with local growers, including Dillsburg Farmers Market and Brown's Orchards & Farm Market, to bring healthier options to the table. Dover also has partnered with WellSpan to launch a Market Basket of the Month program.

Lincoln Charter School participated in National Bike to School Day and has implemented many programs to promote a healthy lifestyle, including the Hope Street Garden and Learning Lab.

Additionally, York City is the beneficiary of several projects encouraging fitness and health, according to Cori Strathmeyer, the director of healthy living at the YMCA.

So parents, it's your turn. Stock your cupboards with healthy foods and encourage your kids to get outside.

In fact, get out there with them. If you're anything like us, you were much more active in your youth than you are now.

We understand that a commitment to a healthier lifestyle takes time, money and energy — and all three can be in short supply. But you have those community partners to help you.

Take advantage of the opportunity. You and your children will be healthier for it. And that equates to a high quality — and longer — life.

Listen to the pope on global warming (letter)
- Mike Omlor, Washington Township
UPDATED:   06/12/2015 04:11:27 PM EDT12 COMMENTS

Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum needs to follow Rick Santorum’s advice. On June 18, the pope is expected to release his much-anticipated encyclical on the environment, a statement from the Catholic Church on the moral issues associated with climate change in hopes of rallying Catholics worldwide and having an impact on climate negotiations being held in Paris this December. 

In a Philadelphia radio station interview this week, Rick Santorum gave some excellent advice, saying, “We probably are better off leaving science to the scientists.” 

Santorum also told radio host Dom Giordano, “The church has gotten it wrong a few times on science.” 
But the church is siding with science, as 97 percent of climate scientists agree that we need dramatically reduce carbon dioxide emissions from burning fossil fuels to prevent the planet from catastrophic warming. 

If only Rick Santorum would follow his own advice, and stop dismissing the scientific consensus and now the Catholic Church. Instead he is substituting his own opinion for science and clinging to denial. 
Last year was the warmest year on record, according to NASA, and this year is on track to beat 2014 as warmest on record. Global warming is not going away. 

Closing our eyes and wishing the problem away is no solution.

I for one will make sure I seek out the climate change views of every presidential candidate and vote for a leader that will listen to what the science, and now the pope, is telling us. I pray they soon start listening.

OP-ED: Eat your local vegetables
POSTED:   06/08/2015 08:27:35 AM EDT0 COMMENTS

York County Food Alliance

Unless you grow your own food, what you eat is wel-travelled. A 2001 study of "food miles" reported that produce in Chicago had been shipped an average distance of 1,518 miles.

Shipping food to York County from California or China has an impact on all of us: in fuel costs, CO2 emissions, spoilage, food safety and the grocery-store-tomato-effect (much grocery store produce is bred not for nutrition or taste but to be "stable for transport" so that it can be picked green and arrive at the store looking "fresh").

Local food tastes better. Fresh, local produce is nutritious. Produce bought in-season from a local farmer is a great buy. When you buy local, you're paying for food not "food miles." Buying local helps the local economy here in York County. The more we all eat local food, the more local food will be available; it's demand and supply.

Eating fresh, local food makes good sense because York County, with its good soil, climate and rainfall, is already an agricultural powerhouse, ranked sixth in total value of agricultural products sold among Pennsylvania's 67 counties.

Notwithstanding our agricultural history, York countians aren't eating their vegetables. A healthy diet includes 2 to 3 cups of vegetables daily. In York County, only 3 percent of adults follow the recommendation.

Why so few?

One barrier is access. For many it's hard to get to the store — or the store we can get to has a poor, or no, selection of produce. Processed and fast food is everywhere available, and the perception is it's a cheaper source of calories — but by weight fresh produce is the better buy.
The toughest barrier to overcome is knowledge. We eat what we know, and if vegetables and fresh fruit are unfamiliar, or if we don't know how it tastes or how to prepare it, we will choose something else.

The York County Food Alliance wants to increase the availability of local produce. Farmer's markets have partnered with the Alliance to host Harvest Share donation days when customers are encouraged to buy produce to donate and share for hunger relief. The Alliance's Plant2Share initiative encourages community groups to plant a garden to share the harvest with those in need.

Home gardeners can also Plant2Share by sharing surplus produce. To find a food bank, food pantry, senior center or soup kitchen nearby that accepts fresh produce donations, search by zip code at: AmpleHarvest.org.

Everyone wins when we patronize the many farm stands and local markets around York County.

The local strawberries are ripening in the fields around York County right now. Partake of the bounty. Let's all enjoy more local produce and cut down on those food miles.

— Metta Barbour is chair of the York County Food Alliance.

American Innovative Change
York Daily Record
Paper only, Thurs. 6/4/15

Letters recently reflected on change in America, perceiving decline.

So let’s look a bit our tools of innovative change that improved the 20th Century.

WWII saw our gloriously sleek P-51 Mustang, small yet able to protect our bombers the whole way from England to Berlin and back.  Aerodynamics let it be fast and very effective without excessive fuel costs - efficient, very different from pre-war biplanes.  Same with the B-29 Superfortress.  When Victory Bond fundraisers helped pay fuel costs and there was no inflight refueling, efficiency was what was needed.

The 1980s saw lots of innovative change.  Computers were finding homes in cars (replacing carburetors with fuel injection) and aircraft (ultra-agile F-16 and F-18).  An aircraft was flown by pedal power across the English Channel.  GM won a solar-powered car race in Australia.  At a Congressional hearing James Hansen presented strong evidence fossil fuel combustion was warming the atmosphere.  A huge hole in the protective ozone layer was addressed by Presidents Reagan and Bush Sr. with the Montreal Protocol, allowing it to be healing since then.

Today we have solar-charged cars, wind farms and solar roofs that help power the grid, and a plane flying around the world on nothing but sunlight.  We have burnout-proof lighting that uses nothing vs. traditional bulbs.

While 30 mpg at 100,000 miles was considered great for a 1985 car, my 2000 Insight is getting 65 mpg at 273,000 miles, as miraculous today as a P-51 flying to Berlin and back was in 1944.

Innovative change is what makes things interesting, what makes many of us want to get out of bed in the morning.  A people unwilling to try things that could easily fail at first, like the P-51 or B-29, is a people without a future.

Roger Twitchell
York City

Santorum's wrong - Pope Francis' environmental teachings are important (column)
By Stephen Seufert, The Philadelphia Inquirer (TNS)
UPDATED:   06/09/2015 03:30:03 PM EDT

Rick Santorum recently spoke with Philadelphia radio host Dom Giordano about Pope Francis and his planned visit to the city in September.

Santorum, the former Pennsylvania senator and current Republican presidential hopeful, praised the pope for "his focus on making sure that we have a healthier society" and said, "I support completely the pope's call for us to do more to create opportunities for people to be able to rise in society and care for the poor. That's our obligation as a society."

If Santorum had left it at that, there would be no problem. Unfortunately, he didn't.

When asked about the pope's upcoming encyclical on the environment, Santorum said, "The Church has gotten it wrong a few times on science, and I think we're probably better off leaving science to the scientists and focus on what we're really good on, which is theology and morality. When we get involved with political and controversial scientific theories, then I think the Church is probably not as forceful and credible."

Santorum added that when Catholic bishops "get involved with agriculture policy, or things like that that are really outside the scope of what the Church's main message is, that we're better off sticking to things that are really the core teachings of the Church, as opposed to getting involved with every other kind of issue that happens to be popular at the time."

Being responsible stewards of the planet is not an issue because society currently deems it popular. This focus on the environment will not diminish the way a child loses interest in a long-forgotten favorite toy of yesteryears.

As students of history know, the Catholic Church was promoting responsible environmental stewardship long before it was deemed cool or popular. Furthermore, the relationship between Catholicism and science has largely been one of cooperation, not conflict.

Whether it be through universities or hospitals, Catholics have been consistently active in advancing the sciences in various fields of study - ranging from Galileo and physics to Mendel and genetics.

The Vatican even has its own scientific research department, called the Pontifical Academy of Sciences. Its stated mission is "to honor pure science wherever it may be found, ensure its freedom, and encourage research for the progress of science." Throughout its existence - its roots extend to the Academy of the Lynxes, founded in 1603 - the academy's members have won at least 48 Nobel Prizes.

I agree with Santorum that the Church should leave science to scientists. Any rational person should defer to the experts. Furthermore, academic reports from experts should be used by elected officials to make informed, fact-based decisions that benefit the common good.

So what do scientists who study climate change have to say? A report by NASA shows that 97 percent of climate scientists agree the theory of climate change is negatively affecting the planet and that human activity is a leading contributor. Statistically speaking, 97 percent is a consensus, hardly among what Santorum calls "controversial scientific theories."

Santorum is also correct that the Church has gotten it wrong on science in the past. But the very nature of science allows for mistakes. That's why there are hypotheses and theories. Scientists who disagree with climate change are obligated to challenge the current theory. Thus far, there has been no compelling countertheory to climate change.

Catholics are called to address the pressing political issues of their time. Why else would Santorum mention his Catholic faith on the campaign trail, if not to influence the political debate? In "The Joy of the Gospel," an apostolic exhortation, Pope Francis quotes Pope Benedict XVI, declaring, "The Earth is our common home and all of us are brothers and sisters. If indeed 'the just ordering of society and of the state is a central responsibility of politics,' the Church 'cannot and must not remain on the sidelines in the fight for justice.'"

With an encyclical on the environment, Pope Francis would be doing his part to protect and defend a planet we share with current and future generations. Nothing is more Christian or moral than promoting environmentally friendly ideas aimed at uplifting all of humanity. The promotion and protection of life are of paramount concern for Catholics. Therefore, if Rick Santorum is truly a faithful defender and promoter of life, he will come to embrace the teachings of Pope Francis on the environment.



Stephen Seufert is state director of Keystone Catholics, an online social justice advocacy organization. He wrote this for The Philadelphia Inquirer.

An indoor velodrome could boost York's economy (column)
By Joe Stafford
UPDATED:   05/27/2015 02:07:52 PM EDT1 COMMENT

The Laoshan Velodrome was built for the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Could such a facility in York help the local economy?

When NBC journalist Tom Brokaw appeared as the keynote speaker in Hershey last year following the first debate between Tom Wolf and Tom Corbett, his theme was the "next big thing." He spoke of significant events and inventions he marveled at over his very full career covering and making news. He left the audience wondering, what do you suppose will be the next big thing?

Of course he was speculating on the next big thing for the country. It got me wondering what might the next big thing be for the York community?

For nearly two years, I've been offering up an idea for York as the next big thing, a vision really, that would lift York city and the surrounding areas out of an economically depressed community status. So far, few share my vision, with little more than a polite response — and none have helped move this vision into action.

Meanwhile, some of those I've spoken with keep pushing the same old tried-and-failed economic development ideas.

So, what is it that I see and what's holding others back from seeing it, too?

My vision for York includes an indoor velodrome — nothing less than a "world class" indoor velodrome.

All right, what's a velodrome? And, why an indoor velodrome?

A velodrome is an oval track bicycle racing venue, usually a total distance of 250 meters. The only velodrome in Pennsylvania is in Trexlertown, Lehigh County, and it's an outdoor facility with a non-standard 333 meters.
Bicycles used at a velodrome are not your typical street bicycle — in fact, only "track bikes" are allowed, which are a single gear configuration with no brakes. Why these are required will become obvious once viewed in action. The underlying point of having a unique bicycle for racing and training is that all participants are supervised and the training is structured. This is not to be viewed as an open recreation park within the track area. Structured discipline and safety are important factors here.

So, who are the anticipated participants? Even though this is "youth-centric" in practical experience, all ages may participate. Anyone who can balance on two wheels can have the thrill of "doing laps" for fun and fitness on banked turns. Whatever the final legal and economic entity turns out to be, York has some natural partners in place that will realize mutual benefits: Crispus Attucks, YWCA and the 'Y' come to mind. Every school district can include some activity at a safe venue developing a life-long physical skill. I'm sure there are others, like WellSpan and Memorial Hospital.

Why would youth be eager participants? It's an easy entry athletic sport and very little personal equipment is needed (the velodrome can furnish track bicycles to use). Olympic and professional racing is something any youth can aspire to. Having coaches and trainers involved can bring out the best in youth. Can York be the home of a future world or Olympic champion?

Why would parents support a velodrome? Just ask the director at Trexlertown what feedback he gets from parents. Local kids come home in good spirits — and tired. Less likely to "get in trouble" when they're exhausted from the aerobic workout. It's also affordable.

Why would adults use a velodrome? For many who have never raced, it's an exciting bicycling experience without traffic and road hazards. As with many bicyclists, who are ex-runners "because their knees gave out," track cycling can be an endurance sport with many health benefits. Adult memberships add revenue and extend the utilization of the facility.

Why would spectators support a velodrome? It's a fascinating sport to watch. It's not always about the first rider across the finish line that draws cheers from a crowd. Strategy, whether solo or teamwork, mixes up the elements of various events. It holds the interest of spectators throughout — very little idle time between heats and action in every event.

Why would York support a velodrome? Optimism not withstanding, York is an economically depressed and disadvantaged city. Outside help cannot fix the problems York faces today. York needs to be inspired from within. Mayor Kim Bracey embedded that theme in the latest state-of-the-city message.

Where will that inspiration come from? I believe that if given the opportunity, city youth will opt in for some good, clean, competitive fun instead of the destructive low-esteem diversions available now. York's black community will have an even greater incentive for involvement if inspiration from an historical figure is highlighted. "Major Taylor" was the world's best black bicycle racer in the early 20th century. Racial discrimination in the United States forced him to compete in Europe, but he was still the best for decades. His legacy is now being recognized and highlighted throughout the U.S. bicycling community.

Why would the Economic Alliance and business community support a velodrome? It will certainly create year-round local jobs and opportunities for York tourism if a world-class facility is built.

I have not addressed whether the velodrome should be an indoor or outdoor complex. There is only one indoor velodrome in the U.S. (located in California). To have an indoor velodrome on the east coast would set York and Pennsylvania apart as a special destination for a full spectrum of visitors and participants.

By my estimate, an indoor velodrome will cost $20 million and should be sited on about 20 acres. The California facility cost $15 million in 2004. Then the typical question is: How do you expect to fund a project of this size? I don't know. That's not my area of expertise, and I'll leave that to the movers and shakers of York to work that out.

Also to be clear: It's not me asking for $20 million and a miraculous 20-acre land grant. My modest request all along is to get a small group together to visit the Trexlertown velodrome to see what I see. Is that asking too much?

The objective here is to use an economic project to build pride and community involvement around York. I believe a velodrome will have a huge impact on the health and vitality of the community besides the individual health and vitality of its residents. In full disclosure, I've explained to all so far that I'm not "looking for work" and don't expect to gain financially from this.

There's a "dream team" I have in mind to steer this project (most of those already approached know who they are). What I haven't accomplished is to get this small group motivated and with some other leaders to actually take a trip to Trexlertown to see what an opportunity this truly is.

The most disappointing reactions I've received so far is from those who neither ride a bicycle nor have ever been to a sanctioned racing event but who presume to know that track racing in York won't work.

I've been cautioned not to sell this vision as a "magic bullet" for York. That phrase, "magic bullet" was made famous by former U.S. Sen. Arlen Specter, serving on the Warren Commission, when he proposed the single-bullet trajectory theory that killed President Kennedy and injured Texas Gov. Connally. When his conclusion was challenged, his response was, "Do you have a better idea?"

So, lacking any other ideas, here's my vision. Now, who is up to the task to take it from here?

Joe Stafford is executive director of the Bicycle Access Council based in Dallastown.

Now Rep.  Perry should go after oil companies (letter)
- Porter Hedge, Spring Garden Township
UPDATED:   05/26/2015 09:47:35 AM EDT

I’m glad to see Rep. Scott Perry is concerned about taxpayer dollars being wasted by subsidizing wealthy corporations (see his letter “Government shouldn’t subsidize wealthy corporations with Ex-Im Bank”). I’m wondering why Rep. Perry doesn’t mention subsidies for the fossil fuels industry. According to a new report from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the world subsidizes the burning of fossil fuels to the tune of $5.3 trillion every year ($10 million a minute), including $492 billion in direct subsidies from governments. 

The $5.3 trillion includes the costs of damages from fossil fuels, including climate change and pollution. Not a week goes by that we don’t see another pipeline spill or an oil train derailing and exploding. Miami Beach is spending $400 million to install pumps to combat rising sea levels. In 2009, the National Academy of Science found that burning fossil fuels cost Americans an extra $120 billion a year in healthcare costs from pollution. In 2011, Scientific American reported the healthcare burden from burning fossil fuels equated to 30,100 premature deaths each year – with 5,130,000 workdays lost. Why are these costs not factored into the price of fossil fuels? 

Rep. Perry says that “Washington shouldn’t pick winners and losers,” but Congress continues to allow the biggest distortion in the history of the free market by allowing the fossil fuels industry to pollute for free.
The five biggest oil companies — BP, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, ExxonMobil and Shell — made $952 billion in profits over the first decade of this century. That is almost a trillion dollars in profit. Why are we not making them pay for their damages, and why would we give them a single cent in subsidies, much less $10 million a minute? We need to put an end to this misguided welfare program by putting a fee on carbon emissions and returning all of the revenue back to consumers.

OP-ED: Americans support a price on carbon
Citizens' Climate Lobby
POSTED:   04/28/2015 07:32:27 AM EDT | UPDATED:   5 DAYS AGO0 COMMENTS

Recently, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) announced that last month was the warmest March on record globally, and January through March of 2015 was the warmest start to any year on record. The year 2015 looks like it's on its way to toppling last year's warmest year on record globally. Ninety-seven percent of climate scientists agree, burning fossil fuels is the cause of our planetary warming.

Our climate is destabilizing. This past winter's extreme cold temperatures on the East Coast should have been seen up north, while the Arctic experienced unusually warm temperatures. The 2015 Iditarod dog sled race had to move its starting point 300 miles north for the second time in the race's 43-year history due to warm temperatures and lack of snow. The Arctic is warming twice as fast as anywhere else on Earth.

A growing amount of research suggests warming in the Arctic is affecting the jet stream and in turn, weather in the mid-latitudes, where we live. The jet stream is powered by the temperature contrast between the Arctic and the mid-latitudes. A rapidly warming Arctic means less of a contrast in temperatures and the result is a slowing jet stream, meaning a persistence of certain weather conditions. A slower jet stream means more intense droughts, more intense snowfalls, more intense flooding, etc.
The punishing drought continues in the West. The Sierra Nevada snowpack's water content was at its lowest late-March level since records began in 1950, at just 6 percent of the late-March average, according to the California Department of Water Resources. The winter snowpack serves as an important source of water during the hot, dry summer months. More than 98 percent of the state of California remains in some level of drought, according to the most recent U.S. Drought Monitor. The drought has been made more severe by the state's warmest winter on record. California grows more than 200 crops, some grown nowhere else in the U.S., and produces almost all of the country's almonds, apricots, dates, figs, kiwi fruit, olives, prunes, nectarines, pistachios and walnuts. Look for nationwide price increases in many fruits, nuts and vegetables as the climate change-worsened drought withers California's crops.

In March, 6,000 miles to the south in the driest place on earth, the Atacama Desert in Chile, at least nine people were killed after 14 years' worth of rain fell in one day and caused severe flooding. "The heavy rains were from a cold front that hit the Andes Mountains," according to Jeff Masters at Weather Underground. "Unusually warm ocean temperatures approximately 1.8 degrees above average off of the coast meant that high amounts of water vapor were available to fuel the storm and generate exceptionally heavy rains."

Scientists overwhelmingly agree that we need to dramatically reduce carbon emissions to slow the warming of our planet. Now that EPA regulations are being put in place to reduce emissions, the discussion is turning to alternatives to EPA regulations.

Maryland Rep. John Delaney told an audience at a conservative think tank recently that he's drafting a bill to put a fee on carbon that could lead to the repeal of President Obama's signature policy of regulating CO2 emissions at power plants. Rep. Delaney made his Earth Day announcement at the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank that has been recently hosting discussions about pricing carbon. Aparna Mathur, a resident economist at AEI, described a fee on carbon emissions as arguably the most efficient way to address climate change. It could also raise an estimated $1.2 trillion over 10 years, she said, potentially creating enough revenue to pay for other tax cuts.

Stanford University and Resources for the Future commissioned the polling firm SSRS to interview 1,023 U.S. adults on climate-related issues in January. Their poll found that two-thirds of Americans support making corporations pay a price for their carbon emissions provided the revenue collected is redistributed back to consumers.

Studies show putting a fee on carbon emissions and returning all of the revenue to consumers will boost our economy, create jobs, save lives and reduce carbon pollution. There is no doubt the planet is warming, and the American public is warming to the idea of putting a price on carbon pollution.

— Jon Clark is mid-Atlantic regional coordinator for Citizens' Climate Lobby and lives in Dover.

OP-ED: A fork in the climate change road
York City
POSTED:   04/22/2015 09:45:51 AM EDT

America appears to have reached a fork in the road, a moment of decision. While still an infant versus nearly any other nation, we're starting to feel a little unsure about our future. As with any civilization, there are of course plenty working relentlessly on next-generation improvements to things. Others blame departure from the old ways for our troubles, such as many considering Obama's "War on Coal" to be a crime against world prosperity.

The top three coal producers — Peabody, Alpha (which bought faltering Massey) and Arch — lost 75 percent, 80 percent and 80 percent, respectively, of their stock values over the past year, and 78 percent, 96 percent and 95 percent, respectively, over the past 10 years.

Youth everywhere are demanding divestment from fossil fuel-based energy for our common good. Investment firms are starting to acknowledge the need to keep fossil fuels in the ground. The huge Australian Abbot Point coal terminal expansion project right next to the Great Barrier Reef has lost most of its financing ... except for the United States Import/Export Bank, related to our moment of decision.

But then we also have Tesla Motors, which has made electric cars cool. Apple and Google are also interested in the production of electric cars. Our computer, solar panel and electric car technology is competitive anywhere. Our Silicon Valley is leading the charge into a positively electric future.

And then there are the traditionalist naysayers, going through stages of denial about climate change. Now admitting it exists, they shout from the rooftops that we, of course, have nothing to do with it. They dismiss, insult and twist the science to support their views. When countered, they start talking about conspiracy theories. In the Senate, Oklahoma Republican Jim Inhofe showed a snowball in winter as proof it's all a hoax.

None of this climate change stuff is rocket science. Combustion creates CO2, CO2 reflects infrared (heat) energy back to the Earth ("greenhouse effect"). In the space of a mere couple of centuries, we humans dug up and burned much of the planet's remains of prehistoric organic matter. Now adding 36 gigatons of CO2 to the air each year, it's caused the atmospheric concentration to jump from 282 parts per million (PPM) in 1800 to 403 PPM today (measured at the Mauna Loa Observatory), a level not seen for over 650,000 years according to NASA scientists. That extra CO2 bumps up the greenhouse effect, causing incremental global warming. That warming in turn generates climate change, including California getting stuck in a hot drought while York's 2015 winter temperatures pretty much matched that of Barter Island of northern Alaska from a slower Jet Stream getting seriously wavy.

The climate has of course changed before. CO2 and other gas concentrations would shift, the atmosphere would warm or cool to synchronize, and the oceans would go up or down accordingly — all in gradual geologic time. This sudden dumping of the underground carbon into the sky is different though, shown by innumerable hockey stick shaped long term CO2 graphs (see NASA again). Temperature synchronizes with CO2 levels, and CO2 levels have suddenly burst through the roof.

The resulting higher temperatures will lead to rising ocean levels for the billion people who live in coastal areas, mostly in developing nations. So while coal use today allows use of air conditioning and microwaves in those developing coastal cities, the children of today's coastal families will see those same cities wracked by increasingly crippling storms from that same global dependency on coal energy.

That's enough of the science. The only thing we can control is how we react to things by what opinions we decide to form. And we all want to do the right thing, based on our own perspectives.

One great civilization, the eastern half of the Greco-Roman world that gave us our foundations, went from the smartest, wealthiest and most powerful intellects of the world to a single city unable to pay for a single cannon. And so the cannon maker went to that city's enemy, leading to the end of 2,000 years of uninterrupted Classical civilization. That once-great Constantinople should have instead invented that cannon.

So how should we celebrate Earth Day? Should we invent that cannon, so to speak, by encouraging fascinating 21st century electric innovation, including exponentially growing wind and solar power, each already providing more jobs than the coal industry? We'd then gain the leading-edge R&D, manufacturing and installation jobs that would go with that electric innovation, while making progress with our carbon dependency inheritance in the process. Or should we hide behind our conspiracy theories as the rest of the world leaves us behind to wither?

We are the only ones who can control that.

— Roger Twitchell is a resident of York City and a member of the Citizens' Climate Lobby.

Creation care is a matter of life (letter)
The Rev. Mitchell C. Hescox
UPDATED:   04/17/2015 02:39:24 PM EDT

So much for attempting to have a reasonable discussion without attacking one’s character. Creation care, which includes addressing climate change, is the greatest moral challenge of our generation and the greatest opportunity for rebuilding America and the vast majority of Christians agree. The Cape Town Commitment, issued by The Lausanne Movement (founded by Billy Graham and John Stott) several years ago and ratified by The World Evangelical Alliance, testifies climate change action as part of our Christian discipleship. So will the upcoming encyclical by Pope Francis, and additional current statements by most of the world’s Christians. Acting on climate change as these Christian ministries state is a moral action in caring for the least of these.

We don’t need the United Nations to tell us that our changing climate is real. Our own Dr. Richard Alley from Penn State, Dr. Katharine Hayhoe from Texas Tech (Evangelical Christian, named to Time Magazine top 100 list of influential people and member of my board of directors), the National Academy of Science  (NAS), the American Academy for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), The American Medical Association (AMA), The American Meteorological Society (AMS), and every scientific body in the United States as well as our Department of Defense acknowledges climate change’s reality.

The science remains settled. The discussion must center on the best solutions and that’s where my evangelical Christian faith applies.
There always remains hope in the world because we follow a risen Lord. Easter offers us another chance to assist in building God’s Kingdom and working to defend our children, their future, and all God’s children. My belief in Jesus’ resurrection provides hope for all creation and that is the Easter message.

— The Rev. Mitchell C. Hescox, President/CEO, Evangelical Environmental Network, New Freedom

Celebrate nature at Go Green in the City


POSTED:   04/17/2015 01:05:57 AM EDT | UPDATED:   2 DAYS AGO0 COMMENTS

A moss mural is just one way participants can go green during the seventh Go Green in the City fair planned for Saturday in York.

An event for all things environmentally inspired, Go Green will be held from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and is free to attend.

"The purpose is to celebrate green, eco-conscious, local living," said Megan Feeser, director of marketing for Downtown Inc.

Go Green will feature local artisans, businesses and nonprofits in the block bordered by North Beaver Street, West Philadelphia Street, North Pershing Avenue and West Clarke Avenue.

Food vendors will be set up in the parking lot of White Rose Bar and Grill. Urban Olive from Lancaster, Soul Burrito and Corner Cabinet Café are just a few of the food vendors planning to attend.

"We noticed there was a real desire for families to spend the day downtown," said Feeser, explaining the event is designed for family fun.

Kid Zone: That's why there will be a Go Green Kid Zone, complete with a 4-H petting zoo, plant potting and the Pennsylvania Woodsmobile, an informational exhibit on forestry hosted by Pennsylvania Forest Products Association.

Plus, Eat Play Breathe will host kids Zumba and yoga, and Prime Art Supply will do face painting.

With more than 60 vendors, Feeser calls this year's Go Green event the "biggest and best to date."

Painted Spring Farm Alpacas is bringing several of its animals to a spot on Beaver Street, while Hip Bees and Honey will show off live bees.  [note from Roger Twitchell - HipBees and Honey, based in Dallastown, sells honey that tastes worlds better than anything from a supermarket!  All the good stuff is still there in it!  It tastes so fresh and perky you can practically hear the bees.]
As a nod to upcycling, Go Green is BYOT — bring your own T-shirt; ArtC Creative will screen print the Go Green logo on old shirts for $5.

The mural: And to truly bring nature into the city, an artist will lead a community creation of a moss mural on Clark Avenue. After moss is transformed into a paste, people can help paint the moss onto the side of a building; the mural will be maintained by ArtC Creative.

Jason Konopinski will lead pop-up yoga at 10 a.m. for a $10 donation, The York Friends Meeting House will hold a Green Elephant and Native Plants sale, and live music will be flowing from the White Rose parking lot all day.

Plus, White Rose is hosting an after-party with food and beverages to cap off the day.

North Beaver Street, North Pershing Avenue and West Clark Avenue will be closed from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday. Free parking for Go Green is available in all parking garages.

For more information, visit www.downtownyorkpa.com/gogreen.

Switch to clean electricity for Earth Day (letter)
York Daily Record
UPDATED:   04/14/2015 01:01:52 PM EDT0 COMMENTS

You don’t have to modify your property at all. Switching to a renewable supplier can be done entirely online, is not hard and is affordable. When you consider the societal costs of fossil fuel use, renewables are less expensive to society overall and are nearly at utility bill equity with fossil fuels as things are now. No mountaintops get dynamited to release wind power, and a solar spill is a cheerful thing.

All it takes is switching who generates your electricity. Met-Ed will still carry it to you, as always. It’s basically a database link between Met-Ed and whatever generator you chose, so the electricity a wind and/or solar farm generates each month can include you as a customer. That only requires sharing basic electric bill identification info with the desired provider. They add to the grid however much electricity Met-Ed says you used the prior month, and you draw from the grid via Met-Ed as always.

Start at choosepawind.com to support Pennsylvania wind (and solar) power. Click on “Buy PA Wind,” then click on “Met-Ed” from the list of utility providers. As of April 13, there were three providers available. You can browse around on each provider’s website to see what rates are available, very competitive versus default Met-Ed pricing, from what I saw. Some plan prices are variable month by month, others constant.
And while Pennsylvania wind farms (and some solar) are offered by all, there are national (multi-state source) plans also offered by each (which tend to cost a little less).

So if you use heat pump based HVAC, next winter’s winds will be heating your home. If you drive a plug-in car, you can drive on wind and sunshine. Now there’s a happy Earth Day!

— Roger Twitchell, York

Global warming solution exists (letter)
York Daily Record
UPDATED:   04/10/2015 09:01:43 AM EDT

Thanks to Porter Hedge for his April 6 letter, “Professor wrong on climate change,” providing scientific evidence of the very real threat of global warming. 

Most people don’t read the IPCC reports on global warming, but if they did, the words “catastrophic” “irreversible,” “economic collapse” and “societal collapse” might get their attention. That’s where we’re headed. 

The entire scientific community supports this assessment. Every scientific body of national or international standing accepts the IPCC’s findings. The National Academy of Sciences included. Check their websites.

The latest EPA regulations and the Chinese agreement to cut emissions won’t be nearly enough to prevent global climate disaster, according to the scientific community. But we do have a simple and realistic way to phase out fossil fuels in time to avert catastrophe, and it won’t require government regulations, expansion or expenditures, just free-market forces.

It will also create millions of U.S. jobs and add tens of billions annually to GDP while putting extra cash in the average American’s pockets every month (REMI).

By putting a steadily increasing carbon pollution fee on all fossil fuels (and imports from carbon polluters like China, till they reduce their emissions), and returning 100 percent of that money to every American every month, people would use their carbon fee money to switch to clean energy as soon as it became cheaper than fossil fuels, and they’d make a profit. We’d also revive our manufacturing sector as Americans bought cheaper U.S. products with their carbon import money.

Over 2,500 major economists agree, including nine Nobel Prize winners (Wikipedia). It’s been successful in British Columbia for six years.

The Citizens Climate Lobby website has more information. The world’s most-respected climate scientist, James Hansen, has said joining the Citizens Climate Lobby is the single most important thing you can do about global warming.

— Pete Kuntz, Lancaster

LETTER: Students fighting for their futures
York Dispatch
POSTED:   04/09/2015 09:24:00 AM EDT

Social science professor Frank Clemente's article poking fun at the student fossil fuel divestment movement was wrong on so many levels.

Firstly, Mr. Clemente fails to mention the work he's done for Peabody Coal in the past. Clemente says a few protests in February demanding universities eliminate "life-giving" fossil fuels from their financial holdings were canceled due to bad weather saying "'global warming' gatherings fizzled because it was too cold." Using the "its cold outside so therefore global warming is bunk" argument is ridiculous and shows a lack of understanding of weather vs. climate by Mr. Clemente.

NOAA just recently announced 2015 was the hottest winter (December-February.) on record globally, noting "colder-than-average temperatures across the central to eastern United States" but the "majority of the world's land surfaces, however, were warmer than average, with much-warmer-than average temperatures widespread across Central America, northern and central South America, Australia, most of Africa, and much of Eurasia, including a broad swath that covered most of Russia. In stark contrast to the eastern United States, the western United States was encompassed by record warmth."
As any scientist will point out, the weather outside our window today is not necessarily what's happening globally. This year's starting point at the Iditarod dog sled race in Alaska had to be moved again for the second time in race history (the first time in 2003) because of a lack of snow and unusually warm temperatures. The race had to be moved 225 miles to the north.

Much of the Arctic experienced unusually warm temperatures this winter, and the National Snow and Ice Data Center just announced this winter's Arctic sea ice was at the lowest winter levels in the satellite record. At the South Pole, Antarctica just broke record warm temperatures last week for the entire continent — the temperature reaching 63.5 degrees, breaking the previous record 63.3 degrees set the day before — threatening low-lying island nations and coastal regions as the massive Antarctic ice shelves disintegrate.

The young people today protesting universities' investments in fossil fuel holdings that threaten the planet are fighting for their futures. When will we join them in the fight?


Spring Garden Twp.

and the similiar but not quite identical...

Professor wrong on climate change (letter)
York Daily Record
UPDATED:   04/06/2015 01:39:16 PM EDT

Social science professor Frank Clemente’s letter poking fun at the student fossil fuel divestment movement was wrong on so many levels. Clemente says a few protests in February demanding universities eliminate “life-giving” fossil fuels from their financial holdings were canceled due to bad weather, saying “‘global warming’ gatherings fizzled because it was too cold.” Using the “its cold outside so therefore global warming is bunk” argument is ridiculous and shows a lack of understanding of weather vs. climate by Mr. Clemente. 

NOAA just recently announced 2015 was the hottest winter (December-February) on record globally, noting “colder-than-average temperatures across the central to eastern United States” … “and majority of the world’s land surfaces, however, were warmer than average, with much-warmer-than average temperatures widespread across Central America, northern and central South America, Australia, most of Africa, and much of Eurasia, including a broad swath that covered most of Russia. In stark contrast to the eastern United States, the western United States was encompassed by record warmth.” 

As any scientist will point out, the weather outside our window today is not necessarily what’s happening globally.

This year’s starting point at the Iditarod dog sled race in Alaska had to be moved again for the second time in race history (the first time in 2003) because of a lack of snow and unusually warm temperatures. The race had to be moved 225 miles to the north. Much of the Arctic experienced unusually warm temperatures this winter, the National Snow and Ice Data Center just announced this winter’s Arctic sea ice was at the lowest winter levels in the satellite record. At the South Pole, Antarctica just broke record warm temperatures last week for the entire continent, the temperature reaching 63.5 F, breaking the previous record 63.3 F set the day before, threatening low-lying island nations and coastal regions as the massive Antarctic ice shelves disintegrate.

 The young people today protesting universities’ investments in fossil fuel holdings which threaten the planet are fighting for their futures. When will we join them in the fight? 

— Porter Hedge, Spring Garden Township

Write to DEP to oppose Perdue plant (letter)
York Daily Record
UPDATED:   04/03/2015 03:31:24 PM EDT

As reported in the YDR, the Pennsylvania DEP held a meeting March 31 regarding Perdue AgriBusiness plans for building a soybean processing facility in Conoy Township.

 This project is wrong on so many levels. This plant will emit hundreds of tons of hexane gas per year into the air of York and Lancaster counties. This area already has some of the worst air quality in the USA. Add another chemical poison in mega quantities and quality of life drops precipitously. I have cancer; there are days I cannot take a walk outside because of another air quality “orange” or “red” alert in our area. These days will only increase.

Purdue Corporation does not care about the health of Pennsylvania residents; it only sees profits. If this project is permitted, Pennsylvania citizens will gain a much higher level of respiratory, neurological and fetal health problems and the expenses that go with them. 

 Perdue could eliminate these horrendous problems by using a non-hexane expeller technique that employs only heat and pressure to extract the soybean oil. But, with greedy corporate reasoning, they contend there might not be quite as much profit from this non-polluting method. They prefer to sacrifice the health of our Pennsylvania citizens. To reward Purdue for destroying our citizen's health, our state government has granted the company $8.

75 million toward plant construction. As a private company with $4.6 billion in profits last year, Purdue hardly needs to be subsidized by Pennsylvania taxpayers.

Anyone wishing to express opposition to the DEP granting permit approval for the plant as now proposed can send a letter to: Thomas Hanlon, Air Quality Permitting Chief, 909 Elmerton Avenue, Harrisburg PA 17110-8200. (Letters must be received by April 10, 2015). Just a few lines will help.

— Sandra Gordon, Springettsbury Township

LETTER: Pa. a critical player on climate change
York Dispatch
POSTED:   04/01/2015 09:42:53 AM EDT

Here in Pennsylvania, we're at the front lines of climate in more ways than one. We're already feeling the impacts at home, and Superstorm Sandy is only the most extreme example. We're seeing increasing ice storms, more heat waves and changing habitats that put our state's endangered animals at risk. Now, Pennsylvania is emerging as a critical player in the national fight to tackle global warming. And it's going to be close.

Despite more than 8 million Americans and more than 300,000 Pennsylvanians calling for action on climate, Pennsylvania Sen. Pat Toomey just voted to undermine a historic plan to tackle the largest single source of global warming pollution — our nation's fleet of dirty power plants.

The climate fight is heating up. Thankfully, Sen. Toomey isn't the only one representing our state. Our own Sen. Bob Casey stepped up to the bat for our health and communities and withstood enormous pressure from polluters in the process. I'm glad we can claim a leader like Sen. Casey, who is willing to listen to real Pennsylvanians as we call for action on climate.

We need to protect future generations from this threat, and Sen. Casey is working to put Pennsylvania on the right side of history.


Global Warming and Clean Energy associate

Save your land, save the bay (letter)
York Daily Record
UPDATED:   03/31/2015 01:20:14 PM EDT

My dear, late mother taught her children through a number of one-liners, including “it’s a rotten bird that dirties its own nest.” While this was intended to apply to family behavior, it can aptly be applied more broadly. This would include our responsibility as stewards of our air, water and land resources which exist as part of a community or societal “nest” —  a “nest” that has been degraded due to practices governed by environmental illiteracy or ignorance, greed or selfishness rather than an enlightened and sustainable management philosophy.

The Chesapeake Bay, once the most productive estuary in the United States, has been in decline. In fact, large pockets of the bay are already devoid of life due to oxygen depletion. Nitrates, phosphates and sediments flushed from impervious surfaces, lawns and farmland, along with treatment plant discharges, have caused this condition as the bay is a sink or the final depository of these major pollutants. 

The “farmers of the bay” are watermen. They harvest shellfish and the various finfish that comprise the bay’s commercial fishery. Sadly, the watermen are suffering financially due to the decline of this fishery. For example, the native oyster population has declined by 98 percent compared to historical levels. This is particularly troublesome since just one oyster can filter or cleanse up to 50 gallons of bay water per day.

In just three days oysters were once able to filter the estimated 19 trillion gallons of water comprising the bay. 

Forested land was the dominant land cover in the Chesapeake Bay watershed at the time of settlement over 300 years ago. Virtually no runoff existed under forest cover. Leaf litter or cover along with a layer of humus located on top of a porous or uncompacted soil effectively absorbed precipitation. This resulted in a higher and less fluctuating groundwater level which in turn fed seeps and springs, which then formed streams with a greater and more consistent base flow than exists today. In the “History of Adams Co. Pa.,” published in 1886, under the heading “Destruction of Forest,” it is stated that “the size of most if not all the streams in the county has greatly diminished … the average volume of water in them was twice what it is now.” 

As owners or managers of developed or undeveloped land we are either part of the solution or a continuing source of the problem relating to water quality and quantity. The good news is that a large number of practices are available for our use, some of which represent an actual cost savings or are otherwise quite affordable or cost effective. In addition, cost sharing funds are available for some practices. Examples of management practices include the elimination or reduction in size of lawns, providing rain gardens or infiltration basins, native tree planting, use of contours, diversion terraces and pervious pavement.

So — “feather your own nest” — capture and infiltrate your water or the precipitation that falls on your land or property. Why give it away? In doing so you will also be doing a very real service to downstream “neighbors” as well as your community at large. And, of course, the Chesapeake Bay and its watermen will be the ultimate benefactors of your effort.

Oh, and by the way, by reducing or eliminating runoff from your property, the loss of your soil will be reduced or eliminated. Understandably, with less soil loss the sedimentation of local waterways leading to the bay will also be reduced.

— Paul J. Solomon, farm owner/operator; chairman, Shrewsbury Township board of supervisors

Let’s just ignore climate problems (letter)
York Daily Record
UPDATED:   03/27/2015 03:54:12 PM EDT

Senators Blunt of Missouri and Thule of South Dakota tried on March 25 to sneak in an amendment to a spending bill making sure that the Senate would consider it improper (a “point of order”) to even consider pricing carbon emissions by any method.

Sure, so our oceans are getting acidic (pH dropped from 8.11 in 1990 to 8.08 in 2014 according to the NOAA). The ice shelves of both Greenland and the Antarctic are falling apart (Greenland alone lost 25 gigatons/year in ‘92, 500 gigatons/year by 2013 from a Columbia University study). Salt water regularly intrudes on south Florida streets in any weather (average coastal sea level has increased half a foot from 1996 to 2014, according a University of Miami study). But the senators from coal-dependent Missouri and fracking-dependent South Dakota say there’s nothing to discuss.

Curious move, trying to make it an official senatorial “point of order” not to allow even consideration of a carbon fee, fully refunded or otherwise. They want no discussion.

If someone in your household is making an ever-larger mess that has become a serious and growing problem, what do you do? If the source of the mess has enough control over things to make sure no one can ever discuss that mess, do you let him or her get away with that? Of course not, regardless of their power over the household. It’s your household too, after all.
You speak up directly, because that’s the right thing to do.

And so it is with carbon pollution. No one gets to just keep making a bigger mess for everyone else to clean up, making sure no one even discusses it. That’s just wrong.

— Roger Twitchell, York

OP-ED: Are fossil fuels the next tobacco? They should be
York Dispatch, from CQ-Roll Call (TNS)
POSTED:   03/11/2015 05:05:24 PM EDT

In the 113th Congress, members took in more than $40 million dollars in campaign contributions from oil, gas and coal companies — the same companies that receive $37.5 billion in U.S. subsidies. We've seen this dependency on corporate money before, during the tobacco wars of the 1960s. From that campaign, we learned how critical divestment is for social change.

Kicking an addiction is never easy. It's particularly hard when it involves an entire society — but that doesn't mean it's impossible. Health care professionals have fought relentlessly against tobacco addiction, with considerable success. It has been an impressive campaign, in which divestment from tobacco companies played a major role. We pushed Congress to divest their campaign contributions too. Now 193 members haven't taken any tobacco money in 10 years and have been certified "Tobacco Free." Between 1965 and 2009, the number of people that quit smoking doubled and billions of dollars in health care costs were saved.

As Congress now knows, we're up against the same old tactics for a new dangerous addiction: fossil fuels. We built our entire global economy on a fossil fuel infrastructure and watched fossil fuel companies become among the wealthiest corporations on Earth. This addiction, like smoking, is incredibly hazardous to our health.

Several British medical groups asked the health sector to divest from fossil fuels entirely, calling it "a responsibility to future patients." They drew on their past leadership in the tobacco divestment campaign and took a brave step in adding their voices to this battle. Others are joining the fight too: Gundersen Health System froze its fossil fuel investments earlier this year and Norway's sovereign-wealth fund, the largest in the world, announced that it has divested itself from 114 risky assets on environmental and climate grounds over the past three years.
They all have compelling reasons for doing so. According the World Health Organization, air pollution from burning fossil fuels kills more than 7 million people each year around the world. This is more than AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria combined.

Coal combustion, which accounts for 40 percent of all U.S. energy use, is particularly problematic. Coal emissions are directly linked to cancer, respiratory disease, heart disease and brain damage in children. Coal mining is also one of the deadliest professions, causing 8 percent of all occupational deaths worldwide.

On top of all these localized effects, burning fossil fuels is the leading cause of climate change, which in turn contributes to a range of health effects such as heat stroke, asthma, waterborne diseases such as diarrhea, and vector-borne diseases such as dengue fever and malaria.

The WHO called climate change the greatest health threat of our time. That may be putting it mildly, since both the health of people and the planet are at stake.

What can the anti-tobacco movement teach the health care sector about how to kick addictions? How do we join the doctors calling for divestment on the hard road to recovery?

First, we need to make climate change a public health priority. It wasn't until U.S. Surgeon General Luther Terry issued his warning that tobacco was harmful to our health in 1964 that everything changed. A watershed moment in this country, the first surgeon general's report on smoking and health marks the moment the public tide began to turn against tobacco, eventually saving 8 million people from premature smoking-related deaths.

The health effects of fossil fuels are clear. We need the surgeon general to issue a warning that climate change — driven by the burning of fossil fuels — is dangerous to our health. Once people understand the health impacts of climate change, we need to turn that comprehension into something more.

Fossil fuel companies need to be held accountable for public health costs. State attorneys general banded together to hold tobacco companies responsible for their public health costs, and we need a similar effort to recoup the health costs of pollution from fossil fuels. This money could help communities create healthy energy infrastructure and prepare for the coming storms of climate change.

We should support those doctors calling for divestment from fossil fuels, and we should ask Congress to divest along with us. Let's learn from the success of the tobacco movement and forge a consensus that fossil fuels have no place in a healthy 21st century economy. Let's kick our addiction and start on the path to a healthy recovery.

— Gary Cohen is president and founder of Health Care Without Harm. He wrote this for CQ-Roll Call.

FEMA won’t let governors ignore climate change (letter)
York Daily Record
UPDATED:   03/25/2015 01:33:22 PM EDT0 COMMENTS

Kudos to the Federal Emergency Management Agency for refusing to give federal dollars for emergency preparedness to states that ignore the threat of climate change in their state planning. FEMA provides about a billion dollars to states in Hazard Mitigation Assistance grants each year. 

States applying for these funds must publish reports every five years detailing vulnerability to natural disasters such as floods, wildfires and storms and how they will prepare for and respond to these disasters. Under new FEMA guidelines updated last week, starting in March of 2016, states that do not adequately describe how climate change could affect communities in these plans will no longer be eligible for these funds. Disaster relief funds would not be affected.

States with climate-change-denying governors that refuse to take action such as Florida, Louisiana, Texas and North Carolina would risk federal funds if they refuse to take serious the threat of climate change to their states. States like North Carolina that pull irresponsible stunts like ignoring the best available science and “banning” science showing accelerating sea level rise put coastal communities at risk and jeopardize the safety of its residents and its economy. This irresponsible and reckless behavior should not be rewarded with federal tax dollars, as the taxpayers will be the ones to literally bail out unprepared coastal communities when they are hit by rising sea levels and storm surges from storms that are becoming increasingly destructive due to climate change.

We cannot continue to wish away our problems. Climate change is here to stay. Scientists overwhelmingly agree burning fossil fuels is the cause of our warming planet. Congress should act to wean us off of fossil fuels by placing a steadily-rising fee on carbon emissions and returning all of the revenue back to citizens equally.

— Mike Omlor, Washington Township

Don’t force citizens to pay for war (letter)
York Daily Record
UPDATED:   03/25/2015 01:34:11 PM EDT

It’s tax time once again, and those of us who are religiously, morally or ethically opposed to funding war face the usual dilemma of having to violate our consciences to comply with the law. Every year, since 1972, the Religious Freedom Peace Tax Fund bill has been introduced in Congress, but it has never been voted on.  It is endorsed by 50 national religious, peace and civil liberties organizations.

Just as there is a conscientious objector exemption for serving in the military, there needs to be such an exemption for money we send to the government.  

Conscientious objection to participation in war in any form based on moral, ethical or religious beliefs is recognized in federal law, with provision for alternative service, but no such provision exists for taxpayers who are conscientious objectors and who are compelled to participate in war through the payment of taxes to support military activities. The Religious Freedom Tax Fund bill would establish a fund in the federal treasury to receive the taxes of conscientious objectors. Money from this fund would be allocated annually to any non-military appropriation within the federal budget. This bill would restore freedom of religion as protected in the First Amendment to taxpayers whose religious or moral convictions forbid their participation in war.

Each year the Secretary of the Treasury would report to the Committees on Appropriations of the House of Representatives and the Senate the total amount transferred into the Religious Freedom Peace Tax Fund during the preceding fiscal year and the purposes for which such amount was allocated. The government would also benefit by receiving greater revenue due to increased voluntary compliance and decreased tax collection costs. 

For more information, and to read the entire bill (which is only four pages long) please go to www.peacetaxfund.org. 

— Pat Long, West Manchester Township

Three ideas for 'Fixing York PA' (YDR opinion)
York Daily Record editorial
UPDATED:   03/10/2015 01:50:01 PM EDT

"Is York broken?" That was an initial response by Blanda Nace, vice president of community affairs at York County Economic Alliance, when YDR launched a Facebook group called "Fixing York PA."

Is York broken?

Well, no.

And yes.

Clearly, our city has a lot going for it — and many good things are on the horizon. But York also faces many challenges — drugs, crime, struggling schools, threadbare city finances, etc.

So the city isn't completely "broken," but it could certainly use some repairs — in the way that a car with a flat tire isn't hopelessly broken but still needs to be "fixed" to operate properly. To extend the metaphor, some people believe two tires are flat, others three, and still others believe the car is resting on its frame. That's why debate is needed here.

Here, in part, is how we described the purpose of the Facebook group:

This group was created so people from the city and around York County can talk about what works and what doesn't — and offer possible solutions. The group was created as part of an ongoing series by the York Daily Record.

Response has been helpful, thoughtful and promising, and here are three interesting posts by readers:

• April Reigne posted a link to a YouTube video about dancing traffic lights. The Smart company (makers of the Smart Car) installed a pedestrian traffic light in Lisbon, Portugal, that shows a figure mimicking dance moves to music. The company said the lights improved safety because pedestrians are more likely to wait and dance rather than jaywalk. Here's what she wrote:

"I like this idea ... but I don't see this working in America. Everyone's looking down at their phones with ear buds in their head. With that said, I'd still like to see this in York where we have the Walk lights that make that high pitch noise! Could this bring a sense of community? Would this keep people safer? Would drivers REALLY watch for the pedestrians now? Or would they be watching to the point that they would miss their green light, thus clogging up traffic? What do you think?"

We think it's a neat, innovative idea. It wouldn't improve the schools or the city's finances, but as one commenter said, it might attract visitors to that city in Pennsylvania where people dance at traffic lights.

• Eric Lowe posted the following: "I visited Ellicott City (Md.) last Saturday. I had a voucher for 40.00 that I got for 20.00 on Living Social (similar to groupon) for a restaurant. They had on street parking for a fee but also a few free parking lots clearly marked. The little stores are nice but we have more. On a cold winter day the foot traffic was incredible. We could take lessons from there."

Debbie McFeinics responded: "I think few people are aware how often there is free parking in York. The garages are usually free on weekends and evenings. I wonder if visitors often gravitate towards street parking instead of checking out the 4 parking garages downtown. Would be a good thing to promote."

And Mr. Lowe replied: "Signage my dear. There were signs directing visitors as you came down the road before the town."

York has signs directing people to parking lots and garages, but it does seem like the signage could be more effective.

Difficulty parking is a major impediment to downtown commerce. We know local officials are working on this issue. Maybe a quick trip to Ellicot City is in order?

• And finally, an inspirational post by Hilary Arthur, who owns the Arthur & Daughters boutique on Beaver Street:

"I live in Downtown York. I opened a retail store in Downtown York. I send my children to school in Downtown York. I have been following the posts on this page and hope that it can be a forum for positive comments and exchange of positive ideas! One of my favorite things my husband has said to me is, 'Don't talk about it BE about it'!!! I listened to this great TED talk piece regarding a study that demonstrated that success in life is largely determined by GRIT! If you have an idea make it happen. Do it! Our city can be exactly what we want it to be if we are doers and don't give up!"

Thanks for the pep talk, Ms. Arthur.

York has grit and needs even more to get rid of the gritty impediments to success.

Keep the ideas coming on the Fixing York PA page, and we'll keep focusing on those thoughtful ideas in this space.

Let's celebrate what works and fix what is broken.

Global warming is science, not politics (letter)
Turk Pierce
UPDATED:   03/07/2015 11:37:52 AM EST

Wow. Two letters in a week from the flat-earthers who don’t believe in global warming.

Global warming is not a Democratic belief, no more than a hole in the ozone layer was a Republican belief when it happened when Ronald Reagan was president. No one wants global warming, which is measured by stations all over the world. There is no politics involved. 2014 was the warmest year on record; the 10 warmest years have all been since 1998. Global warming is caused by carbon in the atmosphere (the “greenhouse effect”).

Fossil fuels release this carbon. Air pollution is 40 percent from industry, 40 percent from cars, 10 percent from lawnmowers and 10 percent from other sources. We need fossil fuels now, but eventually we’ll run out of coal, oil and gas, so we must develop alternative sources, such as solar, wind and atomic. 
If no steps are taken now to diminish carbon emissions, future generations will all die of the heat, conservatives and liberals alike.

Turk Pierce, Springettsbury Township

Source of research funding matters (letter)
Porter Hedge
UPDATED:   03/06/2015 12:54:48 PM EST

Missy Updyke responded to my letter to the editor about Willie Soon's failure to disclose fossil fuel funding for his “research,” an obvious conflict of interest and breach of ethics, by referencing the paper “Why models run hot: Results from an irreducibly simple climate model,” and “authored by four experts in the field,” according to Ms. Updyke. No wonder Ms. Updyke doesn't give the names of these four so-called “experts.” Willie Soon is one of the authors. According to the Boston Globe: “The Chinese journal who published the paper, Science Bulletin, imposes a strict conflict of interest policy on authors, obligating contributors to disclose any received funding, financial interests, honors, or speaking engagements that might affect their work. In a note at the end of the paper, all four authors claimed no conflicts of interest on the published study.” This is one of those very papers in which Willie Soon forgot to mention the over $1 million in funding from the industry which stands to lose the most with regulations limiting greenhouse gases.

Ms. Updyke assumes “the green movement wants us to only trust research funded by the government.” I do not think this is so. There is plenty of good research being done by government, industry and environmental organizations, but the problem comes when scientists try to hide where their funding comes from. Science journals take this into account when scrutinizing the research being submitting to them.
Readers deserve to know who is behind the funding for any research being conducted. Willie Soon hid the sources of his funding (the fossil fuels industry) for his “climate research.” 

Lastly, Ms. Updyke claims fossil fuels are “renewable” and “sustainable.” Fossil fuels were formed over millions of years and are a finite resource. Merriam-Webster defines “sustainable” as “able to be used without being used up or destroyed.” Fossil fuels are not sustainable and certainly not renewable, unless we wait another few million years for the earth to reform them. But at the rate the planet is warming, that doesn't appear to be likely, because we're burning fossil fuels like there is no tomorrow.
— Porter Hedge, Spring Garden Township

Jordan a leader in solar power (letter)
York Daily Record
UPDATED:   02/27/2015 12:52:07 PM EST

We are used to thinking of the Middle East in terms of suicides and mayhem. ISIS/Da’ish public relations seems inspired by Vlad the Impaler. It’s bad.

Here’s a Middle East you have likely never heard about.

Jordan is switching all its 6,000 mosques to rooftop solar power to save money vs. combustion-sourced electricity. Jordan started net metering in 2012, helping them lead the Middle East in solar power. 200 megawatts of solar farm projects are planned for 2015, with 1,650 megawatts  expected to be installed by 2020, plus plenty of residential solar. Companies like Fresh Fruits Company in Amman are finding solar to pay for itself fairly rapidly.

Solar power worldwide in 2013 was 185 times its power in 2000. While now tiny, exponential growth with few limitations suggests it surpassing wind power in about a decade. It’s expected to be the largest source of electricity by 2050, doubling or tripling from 2013 to 2018. Think of how far computers have come, and you get the idea of where solar power is headed.

When mixed with wind power and spread over a wide area, surprisingly little backup power is usually needed, often only one megawatts  for every seven to eight megawatts of wind plus solar. Natural gas fired “peak units” existing to provide full backup for renewables often sit idle as a result.

Rep. Perry takes pride in working on freeing our economy from shackles of restraint, and I applaud him for that. A fully refunded carbon fee and dividend would help, expected by REMI to add 2 million U.S. jobs by 2020 vs. business as usual. Wind and solar add far more jobs than does combustion-based energy.
If Jordan can cool their mosques with sunlight, it’s too cool a challenge for us to ignore.

— Roger Twitchell, York 

Perdue soybean facility is unhealthy, obsolete, unnecessary (letter)
By Warren Evans
UPDATED:   02/27/2015 12:20:34 PM EST0 COMMENTS

This artist rendering shows Perdue's vision for its proposed soybean facility in Lancaster County.

This artist rendering shows Perdue’s vision for its proposed soybean facility in Lancaster County.   SUBMITTED

Officials at chicken seller Perdue's headquarters in Maryland should withdraw their application for a DEP permit to pollute our local air with toxic hexane that will be emitted from the soybean extraction facility they are proposing to build on land owned by the Lancaster County Solid Waste Management Authority (LCSWMA) in Conoy Township.

Perdue has submitted a health impact study in which their hired scientists claim to have shown that the hundreds of tons of toxic, nerve and lung damaging hexane that will be emitted from this facility each year into the air we all must breathe will have no effect on the health of the people who live in the Lancaster and York County communities that surround this facility.

This study lacks credibility, however, since it provides no data on the short- or long-term effects of this pollution on specific populations such as young children, the elderly or persons suffering from existing diseases such as nerve and brain disorders or lung diseases such as asthma, bronchitis and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

Nor does this study deal with gender differences or the effects of acute exposures to high levels of hexane released during plant equipment failures.

Data on the long-term effects of exposure to hexane pollution at various levels are also missing. In short, this study is incomplete and should not be accepted by the DEP or the public.

Perdue officials are well aware of the fact that it is not necessary to use hexane to produce soybean oil or animal feed.

These products can also be produced without hexane extraction, using the expeller method currently used by Wengers Mill in Lancaster County.

Perdue claims they cannot use this method since it is less profitable than the hexane method. But isn't this slightly extra profit being made at the expense of the taxpayers who must foot the bill for these potential health impacts of the hexane method?

If Perdue were required by DEP to install additional pollution control devices on their proposed Conoy facility to eliminate the hundreds of tons of toxic hexane they plan to emit, would Perdue find that the expeller method would be more profitable than the hexane process?

Perdue has never provided a satisfactory, independently engineer-reviewed answer to this question.

It seems reasonable to conclude that the savings gained by eliminating the many high costs of using the hexane method would more than compensate for any profit loss due to the slight reduction in extraction efficiency of the expeller extraction process. These cost savings would include such items as the continual purchase, transport and storage of the hexane.

Major costs necessary for installing, maintaining and operating extensive electronic safety monitoring equipment, distillation columns, and grain drying ovens would also be eliminated. Safety insurance costs would be greatly reduced, since the hexane explosion risk would also be eliminated.

To make matters worse, the taxpayers must also pay for the $8.75 million R-Cap development grant that this multi-billion-dollar corporation expects to receive from our state government at a time when Gov.Wolf and our legislators are trying to cut expenses from next year's bloated state budget. This premature grant expense is unnecessary and should be eliminated in the budget now being proposed by Gov. Wolf.

Perdue claims its facility will be beneficial to the soybean farmers of our region, but other businesses in Lancaster County, such as chicken seller Bell and Evans, are also expanding and are planning to provide a market for our local soybean farmers equal to that of Perdue's without adding toxic hexane to the already polluted air in our region.

The Perdue facility is unhealthy, obsolete and unnecessary.

Perdue should be a good neighbor and withdraw their DEP application and their request for welfare money under the R-Cap grant program, which was meant for non-polluting businesses and not those that will use our air for a toxic dumping ground in order to make a profit at taxpayers' expense.

Warren Evans, Ph.D., is a retired cancer research biochemist from Hellam Township.

LETTER: Take a closer look at climate change deniers
York Dispatch
POSTED:   02/26/2015 09:36:16 AM EST

Last weekend, the New York Times, the Boston Globe, the Guardian and Inside Climate News all reported on a story that has caused an uproar in the climate science community.

It's well-known that 97 percent of climate scientists agree the Earth is warming due to mankind burning fossil fuels. This leaves a small handful of contrarian "skeptics" who point to some other cause of warming, such as the sun.

Wei-Hock "Willie" Soon is one such scientist who does not acknowledge the scientific consensus, and he is a very vocal opponent of the need to reduce greenhouse gases. According to the New York Times, "He is a part-time employee of the Smithsonian Institution with a doctoral degree in aerospace engineering." Willie Soon is often cited by politicians to appeal to their very conservative base. Documents obtained through Freedom of Information requests by Greenpeace and shared with multiple news organizations prove that Willie Soon has received $1.25 million over the past 14 years from the fossil fuels industry. He has failed to disclose this funding to several of the scientific journals publishing his "research."
Soon has even referenced these research papers as "deliverables" in emails to his funders. According to Inside Climate News, "A watchdog group called the Climate Investigations Center alerted nine scientific journals that studies they published most likely breached conflict-of-interest protocols," and "Soon failed to disclose industry funding in 11 studies published by those journals."

Soon, who is not paid a salary by the Harvard-Smithsonian Center but relies on grants for his wages, has tapped into the dirty energy goldmine. In addition to research grants from Southern Co. totaling $409,754 between 2006 and 2015, Soon collected nearly $800,000 in funding from ExxonMobil, American Petroleum Institute and the Charles Koch Foundation between 2003 and 2012, according to public records obtained by Kert Davies, executive director of the Climate Investigations Center.

This scandal shows the fossil fuels industry pays for "deliverables" from a non-expert in the field in order to cast doubt on real climate science and create the appearance of a climate science "debate" that doesn't really exist in the scientific community.

Spring Garden Twp.

LETTER: Know what's in your food
York Dispatch
POSTED:   02/11/2015 10:03:57 AM EST

When I was growing up on the Sonnewald farm in the 1950's, my father would say, "We're not avoiding chemicals because we know they're dangerous. We're avoiding chemicals because we don't know they're safe, and we won't know that for a long time." Traditional Native American wisdom suggests decisions be made that are in the best interest of the next seven generations.

I am very concerned that our society has been making some very short-sighted decisions. One is genetic engineering (altering the DNA of plants and animals). This highly experimental practice of taking genes from one species and introducing or splicing them into another creates what are commonly called genetically modified organisms (GMOs).

What were we thinking when we decided to play God and tamper with the DNA of His creation? I'll tell you — we were focused on how a few people could make a lot of money quickly, in this case at the expense of the health of present and future generations and the delicate ecology of the earth. But don't just believe me. Do your own research and come to your own conclusions. (Jeffrey Smith and Stephanie Seneff, have PhDs and are two of my favorite experts on this topic.)


GMO crops are very bad news (not to mention the perilous implications of having a few large corporations controlling all seeds). But we are not powerless. Like many large corporations today, Monsanto is motivated by money. If we the people (remember — we're the 99 percent) refuse to buy GMO products, Monsanto and associates will quit trying to convince farmers that it's in their best interest to grow them. While it is estimated that 80 percent of processed foods on American supermarket shelves now contain GMO ingredients, many foreign countries have actually banned GMOs. What should this tell us?

How can GMOs be avoided?

The most important way is to know where your food comes from.

If possible, grow your own, or at least grow a little so you remember and your children and grandchildren learn that food comes from farms, not laboratories and factories. Develop relationships with local farmers and ask questions. Find out what motivates them and what their farming practices are. Buy products that are "Non GMO Project Verified" or "Certified Organic" and check out GMOFreePA.org. This state-wide grassroots organization advocates for mandatory labeling of all GMO foods.

Let's insist on knowing what's in our food so we can make well-informed decisions that are in the best interest of our families' health.

Sonnewald Life Institute
Spring Grove

LETTER: Let lawmakers know you're concerned about environment
York Dispatch
POSTED:   01/23/2015 11:59:40 AM EST
In response to The York Dispatch article "Wolf: Pa. at 'crossroads':

It is true that Pennsylvania is at a crossroads. While Gov. Tom Wolf is Democratic, the state Legislature is still staunchly Republican, and this will make passing key legislation difficult, especially in matters like the environment and the ban on fracking.

But this is an opportunity for residents of Pennsylvania to take it upon themselves to inform their elected representatives that they will not stand for the continual destruction of the environment and disregard for the public health of the residents of Pennsylvania.

While we have won a great victory, this is no time to rest on our laurels. Right now is the time to inform the governor and his new administration, before they become firmly entrenched in the day-to-day politics of Harrisburg, exactly how important the protection of the environment is to us.

Gov. Wolf will be able to do more heavy lifting for us in Harrisburg, but we have to take it upon ourselves to let the Wolf administration know how much the protection of the environment matters to us.



Just say no to GMO (letter)
Willa LaFever
UPDATED:   02/03/2015 11:58:42 AM EST

My hat is off to Shirley Delaney, “No thanks to genetically modified soy oil” (Jan. 22) for helping to educate our community about the serious personal health and environmental implications of genetically modified organisms (GMOs). What were we thinking when we decided to play God and tamper with the DNA of his creation? I’ll tell you — we were focused on how a few people could make a lot of money quickly, in this case at the expense of the health of present and future generations and the delicate ecology of the earth. But don’t just believe Shirley and me. Do your own research and come to your own conclusions. (Jeffrey Smith and Stephanie Seneff are two of my favorite experts on this topic.)

GMO crops are very bad news (not to mention the perilous implications of having a few large corporations controlling all seeds). But we are not powerless. Like many large corporations today, Monsanto is motivated by money. If we the people (remember-we’re the 99 percent) refuse to buy GMO products, Monsanto and associates will quit trying to convince farmers that it’s in their best interest to grow them. While it is estimated that 80 percent of processed foods on American supermarket shelves now contain GMO ingredients, many foreign countries have actually banned GMOs. What should this tell us?

How can GMOs be avoided? The most important way is to know where your food comes from.

If possible, grow your own, or at least grow a little so you remember and your children and grandchildren learn that food comes from farms, not laboratories and factories. Develop relationships with local farmers and ask questions. Find out what motivates them and what their farming practices are. Buy products that are “Non GMO Project Verified” or “Certified Organic” and check out GMOFreePA.org. This statewide grassroots organization advocates for mandatory labeling of all GMO foods.

Let’s insist on knowing what’s in our food so we can make well-informed decisions that are in the best interest of our families’ health.

 — Willa Lefever, North Codorus Township

OP-ED: Pa. must work toward carbon neutrality
Pa. House of Representatives
POSTED:   01/27/2015 09:33:24 AM EST

The world must become carbon neutral by mid- to late century to avoid the worst impacts of climate change, according to a United Nations report released in November.

And with Pennsylvania producing almost 1 percent of the world's greenhouse gases, it has a duty to work toward carbon neutrality.

Rather than increasing the production of natural gas, Gov. Tom Wolf and the new legislature must work toward reducing all fossil-fuel use and shift to renewable energy.

Over three-quarters of the energy consumed in Pennsylvania comes from fossil fuels — coal, natural gas and oil — while only about 4 percent comes from renewable sources like wind and solar, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

In recent years Pennsylvania has created a friendly environment for natural-gas production while doing little to increase renewables. It has foregone the imposition of a severance tax on the natural-gas industry, extended the largest tax break in state history to natural-gas cracker plants, and provided millions in grant money for the conversion of fleet vehicles to natural gas.

While natural gas has the environmental benefit of displacing dirty, carbon-dioxide-emitting coal-fired power plants, it also has significant climate change drawbacks: The combustion of natural gas also emits significant quantities of carbon dioxide. Additionally, the main component of natural gas is methane, another potent greenhouse gas. Fugitive methane emissions pose a significant climate risk as well. Finally, the abundant supply and low price of natural gas has impeded the growth of wind and solar by making them less cost competitive.

If Pennsylvania wants to achieve carbon neutrality, the Wolf administration and the new legislature will have to enact policies that reduce all fossil-fuel use and increase renewables. Here are some things the commonwealth should do:

•Increase its alternative energy portfolio standard.

This is the percent of electricity Pennsylvania electric distribution companies like Peco must obtain from renewable sources. Currently, Pennsylvania lags behind other states, requiring only 8 percent of its electricity to come from renewable sources by 2020. New Jersey requires that 17.88 percent come from renewables by 2021.

•Reinstate the Sunshine Solar Program.

This popular program, which provided rebates to homeowners and small businesses that install solar systems, was discontinued at the end of 2013 due to lack of funding.

•Modify Act 129.

Changing this law would encourage electric distribution companies to further reduce customer demand for electricity and extend these demand-reducing incentives to natural-gas distribution companies.

•Regulate methane.

To reduce fugitive emissions, the state must enact more stringent methane regulations.

Let's hope that the new governor and Legislature will accept their responsibility to work toward carbon neutrality for Pennsylvania.

— State Rep. Greg Vitali, D-Delaware, is Democratic chairman of the House Environmental Resources and Energy Committee.

LETTER: Let lawmakers know you're concerned about environment
York Dispatch
POSTED:   01/23/2015 11:59:40 AM EST

In response to The York Dispatch article "Wolf: Pa. at 'crossroads':

It is true that Pennsylvania is at a crossroads. While Gov. Tom Wolf is Democratic, the state Legislature is still staunchly Republican, and this will make passing key legislation difficult, especially in matters like the environment and the ban on fracking.

But this is an opportunity for residents of Pennsylvania to take it upon themselves to inform their elected representatives that they will not stand for the continual destruction of the environment and disregard for the public health of the residents of Pennsylvania.

While we have won a great victory, this is no time to rest on our laurels. Right now is the time to inform the governor and his new administration, before they become firmly entrenched in the day-to-day politics of Harrisburg, exactly how important the protection of the environment is to us.

Gov. Wolf will be able to do more heavy lifting for us in Harrisburg, but we have to take it upon ourselves to let the Wolf administration know how much the protection of the environment matters to us.



OP-ED: Saving democracy from politico-industrial complex
Common Cause/PA
POSTED:   01/20/2015 12:26:28 PM EST

In his heyday nearly a century ago, Will Rogers made Americans smile with an observation that our country "has the best politicians money can buy."

This week, on the fifth anniversary of what might be characterized as the U.S. Supreme Court's initiative to help us buy better ones, it's fair to say the justices have increased the cost of our politicians without improving the quality.

Since January 2010, when the court ruled 5-4 in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission that corporations, trade associations, labor unions and other groups have a constitutional right to spend whatever they like to influence elections, well-heeled donors have invested hundreds of millions of dollars in political candidates and elected officials.

Nationally, the presidential and congressional campaigns of 2012 cost a combined total of more than $6 billion, roughly double the price tag for similar contests in 2000.

Here in Pennsylvania, the amount of money spent to elect a governor in 2014 shattered all previous records, with Gov. Tom Corbett, Tom Wolf and three Democratic primary challengers surpassing $82 million — and that's just the reported money. Spending on campaigns for the state Legislature races continues to grow as well.

The additional and often untraceable millions pouring into politics, courtesy of the Citizens United decision, have transformed our political campaigns into fundraising contests. Today's candidates typically devote more time and energy to cozying up to big dollar donors than to addressing the challenges facing our nation, states and communities, and indeed our planet.

In Washington, what all that money has gotten us is the least productive Congress in memory, and a poisonous political atmosphere that makes it near impossible to even imagine progress on legislation to bolster our economy, make our communities safer, or combat the effects of climate change.

The special interest cash infusion has been just as unhelpful here in Pennsylvania as we struggle with a state budget that is heading toward a crash, a pension funding fiasco, a school funding and performance crisis, and numerous environmental problems.

The justices insist that money equates to free speech and political spending is protected by the First Amendment. But Citizens United has simply produced more paid speech — television commercials, Internet ads, mass mailings, billboards, faux documentaries — and more opportunities for the wealthy and well-connected to convert their cash into political power.

The decision gave that handful of Americans a license to grab their greenback bullhorns and drown out the voices of the rest of us.

We can do better, and millions of us are trying.

Last year, more than 5 million people signed petitions demanding a constitutional amendment that would overturn Citizens United and again give Congress and our state legislatures the ability to put sensible limits on political spending. Voters, legislators and city councils in 16 states and about 500 localities, with a total population of more than 120 million, also have called for an amendment — including Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Wilkes-Barre, Lancaster, Reading, York and other Keystone State towns.

One of several draft amendments introduced in Congress got 54 votes last September in the U.S. Senate — a clear majority, but not enough under the Senate's arcane rules.

The amendment would simply restore laws in place before Citizens United. It expressly protects freedom of the press and bars any attempt to restrict the content of one's speech. The reasonable spending limits it permits would make it possible to ensure that everyone has a chance to be heard but no one is able to drown out other speakers.

To mark this anniversary of Citizens United, concerned Americans have planned hundreds of rallies, marches, teach-ins and other activities across the country. Check your local newspaper for activities in your area, or go to http://www.getmoneyoutaction.org/5th-anniversary/.

Please join us in this historic effort to save our democracy.

— Barry Kauffman is executive director of Common Cause/PA.

LETTER: Perry should help stymie Saudis
York Dispatch
POSTED:   01/13/2015 04:15:15 PM EST

Thank you for publishing Jon Clark's op-ed on climate change action. Clark pointed out that oil prices collapsed recently. However, he didn't mention that the reason oil prices fell so low is that the Saudis are manipulating the price of oil in the USA. They want to push prices so low that American drillers are pushed out of business. Then, with American competitors destroyed, they'll ramp our prices back up. The best way to free ourselves from future Saudi price gouging is to encourage the development of more and more alternative forms of energy. With oil prices so low right now, it's the perfect opportunity to enact the George Schultz carbon fee and dividend program described by Clark.

I understand from your congressman's website that he is concerned about meeting "our nation's energy needs while taking thoughtful steps to preserve our environment." Rep. Scott Perry should also care about meeting our nation's energy needs without Saudi price manipulation. Because the Saudi's control of OPEC, we will never be free of their manipulations until we develop more and more non-fossil fuel energies.

I urge Rep. Perry to please consider the subject of carbon tax legislation with my congressman, Rep. Joseph Kennedy III, who has now been named to the powerful House Committee on Energy and Commerce.

I'm sure they could make a great team to stymie the Saudis.


Brookline, Mass.

Toomey is an obstructionist (letter)
Linda Small
UPDATED:   01/09/2015 04:50:05 PM EST

Last month, Sen. Patrick Toomey, R-Pa., blocked a bipartisan energy efficiency bill which would have saved American taxpayers money. Toomey was the sole reason why the bill didn’t move forward in the Senate, though he claimed to block the bill on another senator’s behalf. It is unacceptable for Toomey to block a bill and not take personal responsibility. He also attacked energy efficiency and wind power in April, so it seems clear that he is working to benefit friends in the oil and gas industry, no matter the cost to American taxpayers.

 The bill he blocked in December, the Energy Efficiency Improvement Act, encourages commercial building tenants and owners to invest in energy-saving measures that would also help them save money. It would develop best practices and make them available for federal, state and local governments. It also would help federal agencies develop plans for use of energy-efficient information technologies. 

Supported by 191 Republicans and 184 Democrats, the bill passed the House in March. It also had the support of Senate Republicans such as Sens. Lisa Murkowski and Rob Portman. After Toomey blocked this commonsense legislation, Murkowski questioned how the Senate would be able to address tougher issues in upcoming months, “How are we ever going to get to the tough ones if the easy ones that we describe around here as low-hanging fruit, that we can’t get it through this process?” Portman criticized Toomey for blocking the bill, “I’m very disappointed it was objected to again tonight for no particular reason,” Portman said.

 Sen. Toomey tries to portray himself as a leader when he’s in Pennsylvania. But when he gets back to Washington, D.C., he blocks measures that will help ordinary Americans. We can’t afford a “leader” who doesn’t work for the good of the American people. 

— Linda Small, New Freedom

Save the bay by saving local waterways (YDR opinion)
York Daily Record editorial
UPDATED:   01/09/2015 08:20:18 AM EST

A recent Army Corps of Engineers study concluded that dredging sediment from behind the Conowingo Dam would not be a cost-effective way to reduce pollutant
A recent Army Corps of Engineers study concluded that dredging sediment from behind the Conowingo Dam would not be a cost-effective way to reduce pollutant runoff into the Chesapeake Bay. (File)
The official title is the "Lower Susquehanna River Watershed Assessment," but you might refer to it informally as the dredge report.

Or, more accurately, the anti-dredge report — because that's one of the main conclusions of the study conducted by the Army Corps of Engineers: Dredging sediment out of the pool behind the Conowingo Dam would be expensive and futile.

The agency spent several years studying the flow of nutrients and sediment through the lower Susquehanna and into the Chesapeake Bay.

Nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorus are harmful to the bay because they promote algae blooms that choke out other aquatic life. Sediment (a mixture of sand, gravel and mud — basically, muck) can also hurt the bay because it can overrun submerged habitats.

The basins behind the four dams on the lower Susquehanna have been filling with muck since their construction. The York Haven, Holtwood and Safe Harbor pools have long since filled to capacity. And many environmentalists have been concerned about what would happen when the Conowingo, the last bastion before the bay, filled. That dam acts as a pollution trap. When the basin fills, more nutrients would constantly wash into the bay.

Well, it turns out the basin is already pretty much full, the study found.

The level of muck will go up and down somewhat as it is deposited by the river, then scoured out by large storms, according the corps. But basically, it's full.

Dam! (Pardon the pun.)

This is not good news for the Chesapeake, a wonderful regional resource that has suffered greatly from the effects of pollution, overfishing and other man-made disasters.

The federal government has launched a major initiative to clean up the bay and limit pollutants.

So, what do we do?

The Army Corps came to the conclusion that dredging would be an expensive exercise in futility — costing up to $270 million a year.

It also concluded that nutrient flow is much more harmful to the bay than sediment.

Instead, the Army Corps suggests redoubling efforts to reduce nutrients running into the Susquehanna and then into the bay.

Guess who that will affect?

You. Your neighbors. Your business. Your farm. Your sewer rates.

The bottom line is that Pennsylvania and York County are major contributors of nutrients to the bay.

The EPA has set pollution reduction targets, and Pennsylvania is running far behind schedule in meeting those goals.

So, look for new state and federally mandated environmental regulations that someone will have to pay for: Sewer plant improvements, better waste and land use management, monitoring and policing of fertilizer application. This might even impact how you feed your suburban lawn.

That dredging of wallets is going to cause a lot of grumbling and political heat.

But it's worth it to save the bay, which provides us with food, recreation and quality of life. Cleaning up our land and waterways in York County will also make for a better, healthier community here as well as in the bay.

Keystone pipeline a bad goal (letter)
York Daily Record
By Porter Hedge
UPDATED:   01/05/2015 01:38:22 PM EST

In response to Mike Nortrup’s letter, “Now is the time for Republicans in Congress to act,” pushing the Keystone XL pipeline should not be a goal for Republican leadership for many reasons.

The free market is killing the Keystone XL as we speak. A July report by the Canadian Energy Research Institute, a nonprofit whose work is often cited by Keystone proponents, found tar sands oil from Alberta would cost between $85 and $110 per barrel to produce, depending on which drilling technology is used. The price of heavy crude right now is about $56/Bbl and dropping. Congress should not be in the business of promoting economically unviable projects.

The Keystone is not about energy independence but rather about carrying Canadian tar sands oil to Gulf Coast refineries for export overseas. This is not a secret. Valero, a key customer for crude oil from Keystone XL, has explicitly detailed an export strategy to its investors.

TransCanada, a foreign corporation, is using eminent domain to seize properties of American citizens unwilling to sell in order to build the pipeline. There are 100 cases of eminent domain in Texas alone. One such American was 78-year-old Eleanor Fairchild, who was arrested for trespassing on her own property while standing up to heavy equipment after her land was taken.

A State Department review of the proposed pipeline found while creating thousands of temp jobs in the building, once operational it will only create 35 permanent jobs.

The Keystone XL will worsen climate change. The State Department found tar sands oil is one of the most polluting kinds of oil and that the oil carried by the pipeline could add as much as 27 million metric tons of greenhouse gases to the atmosphere each year.

Former U.S. Treasury secretary Lawrence Summers argues in Financial Times that now is the time to put a price on carbon as energy prices are low. He points out the burden that low and middle class families “who drive long distances to work, say, or who have homes that are expensive to heat” would face with a price on carbon. But with low energy costs, it “would be possible to impose substantial carbon taxes without them being burdened relative to where prices stood six months ago.” Returning 100 percent of the revenue as a dividend would be an even bigger windfall to consumers. Putting a price on carbon should be a priority for the Republican Party, as it will encourage jobs in clean energy that cannot be exported, giving us true energy independence and boosting our economy while reducing the greenhouse gases responsible for heating the planet and fouling our air.

— Porter Hedge, Spring Garden Township

One graph of data, not belief (letter)
By Roger Twitchell
UPDATED:   01/05/2015 01:34:38 PM EST

Should one believe in climate change as much as do the instruments that measure things like oceanic pH and temperatures?

Trick question! Global warming isn’t about beliefs, of course, but data. (That’s it for trick questions.)
One can believe anything one wants to. The instruments used to measure things like oceanic pH and temperature do, of course, not have beliefs. Careful analysis of their data output leads to data reports which are the foundation of discussion of global warming. Belief is a different thing.

So now, let’s look at a graph. Just one.

From Dr. James Hanson’s website, columbia.edu/~jeh1/, links produce a cornucopia of peer-reviewed graphs.

At columbia.edu/~mhs119/IceSheet/ is a graph plotting the disintegration of the Greenland ice sheet. It covers from 1992 to 2011, extrapolated to 2013. It shows that by 2004 a (metric) gigaton (1.1 billion American tons) of ice was lost. By 2008 and 2011 it had lost 2,000 and 3,000 gigatons respectively, extrapolated to a 4,500 gigaton loss by the end of 2013. Remaining mass is unknown.

The graph is a declining arc, like the path a tossed ball takes. Between ’92 and ’97 it has a mild downward slope. But by 2007, it’s really diving. By 2013, it’s nearly straight down.

It’s declining  about 25 gigatons a year at first, 500 gigatons/year by 2013.

If a football field represented the 800,000 years since the atmosphere was last at its current CO2 concentration, that 13-year interval would take only 1.8 millimeters, 7/100ths of an inch. That’s how quickly the surreal hugeness of the Greenland ice sheet saw a 20 times quickening of its melting. Since only 1991.

See why climate scientists have been begging, pleading us to do something?

— Roger Twitchell, York

OP-ED: 2015: The year of climate action
Citizens' Climate Lobby
POSTED:   01/05/2015 10:36:44 AM EST

For two weeks in December, delegates at the climate talks held in Lima, Peru, hammered out draft text which will be the foundation for a global climate change treaty to be negotiated in Paris next December. Just as the climate talks began, the World Meteorological Organization announced, "The year 2014 is on track to be one of the hottest, if not the hottest, on record, according to preliminary estimates by the World Meteorological Organization," reinforcing the sense of urgency for delegates to come up with an agreement to reduce greenhouse gases warming the globe.

In a report out months ago, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warned that unless we drastically reduce emissions now, "Continued emission of greenhouse gases will cause further warming and long-lasting changes in all components of the climate system, increasing the likelihood of severe, pervasive and irreversible impacts for people and ecosystems."

The impacts they warn of are sea level rise, warming oceans that are becoming more acidic, rising surface temperatures, longer and more frequent heat waves, and "more frequent and intense extreme precipitation events in many regions."

They also point out the damage we've done and the risk we take if we continue down our current path, saying, "Many aspects of climate change and associated impacts will continue for centuries, even if anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gases are stopped. The risks of abrupt or irreversible changes increase as the magnitude of the warming increases."

Some encouraging options made it into the draft text to be discussed at the Paris meeting in December. One is for "full decarbonization by 2050 and/or negative emissions by 2100." If this language were to become reality, it essentially means the end of the fossil fuels industry as we know it. This echoes recent calls from the president of the World Bank, Dr. Jim Yong Kim, for the world to eliminate carbon emissions. He said, "All countries should commit to put a price on carbon. ... It's a necessary if not sufficient step to zero net emissions."

A group of Catholic bishops from all over the world said "to put an end to the fossil-fuel era, phasing out fossil fuel emissions and phasing in 100 percent renewables with sustainable energy access for all." In November, the Vatican announced that the pope is working on a rare papal encyclical that he will issue to the world's 1.2 billion Catholics to rally them for action on climate change. Bishop Sorondo, an Argentinian who is close to the pope, said the encyclical would be produced in time to influence "next year's crucial decisions," especially the Paris talks in December.

There are many encouraging signs lately that a global agreement can be reached, including the announcement recently of a historic climate agreement between the two biggest emitters of carbon pollution, the U.S. and China. For a global agreement to be effective, this means every country must reduce greenhouse gas emissions at home. This is already taking place in the U.S., with measures such as more stringent fuel economy standards for automobiles and new EPA regulations for coal-fired power plants. The new EPA regulations are meeting with resistance from many in Congress who claim distaste for big government and EPA regulations.

This is where George Shultz, a conservative economist and former secretary of State under President Reagan, stepped in with his alternate plan for EPA regulation of carbon emissions. The George Shultz Plan, also called carbon fee and dividend, involves putting a steadily rising fee on carbon emissions and returning all of the revenue back to the people as direct payments. While many call this a carbon tax, Shultz disagrees saying, "It's not a tax if the government doesn't keep the money." This is the point of carbon fee and dividend. The fee doesn't go toward government programs; a price on carbon sends a signal to the free market to move toward carbon free forms of energy and energy efficiency.

While some want to continue business as usual given the current collapse of oil prices, the executive director of International Energy Agency, Maria van der Hoeven, argues in a Huffington Post op-ed that this is the time for governments to put a price on carbon, saying "the worst course of action would be complacency in the face of low oil prices" and "policy makers in major energy consuming countries should take advantage of the oil market's collapse to introduce carbon pricing, taxes or low-carbon mandates."

Even aside the climate talks, the tide is turning on fossil fuels. More universities, faith groups and local governments are divesting from fossil fuel companies than ever before. Investors are also pressing companies like Exxon-Mobil, Shell and BP to explain how their business plans will work with a binding treaty to reduce emissions and limit global warming to two degrees Celsius, the limit agreed to by nations in previous climate talks. The economics of wind and solar energy are starting to win on price versus conventional fuels in the U.S., and activists are stepping up campaigns to limit new fossil fuel infrastructure. New York State just decided to ban fracking for natural gas and the controversial Keystone XL pipeline remains unbuilt. There is little doubt 2014 will be the hottest year on record, and hopefully 2015 will be the hottest year to date for serious global action on climate change.

— Jon Clark is Mid-Atlantic regional coordinator for Citizens' Climate Lobby and lives in Dover.

Help stop soy processing plant (letter)
Warren Evans
UPDATED:   01/02/2015 01:52:20 PM EST

When the grain and oilseed subsidiary of the Maryland-based Perdue chicken business previously applied for a Pennsylvania DEP permit to build a soybean oil extraction factory in Conoy Township, Lancaster County, it failed to meet the air quality requirements of the permit set by the federal EPA and the state DEP under the federal Clean Air Act.  These standards are designed to protect the public’s health and safety by preventing polluting industries such as Perdue from poisoning and degrading the air we all must breathe.

Last November, Perdue submitted a new revised permit application to the DEP and is now waging a major propaganda campaign in the press to try to convince the public that it has cut the amount of toxic air pollutants that it originally planned to dump into the air from the proposed factory.  However, in spite of these claims, the revised application clearly shows that Perdue does not plan to cut the rate of their toxic hexane emissions but, as in the previous application, it plans to dump over 200 tons per year of waste hexane into the already polluted air in the Lancaster-York region.

It is obvious that Perdue’s propaganda campaign is nothing more than another “smoke and mirrors” tactic being used by this large corporation to avoid meeting the requirements set by the Clean Air Act and DEP and to divert the public’s attention away from the fact that hexane is a highly toxic chemical solvent that can cause serious damage to the lungs and nervous systems of humans, especially children and adults suffering from lung diseases such as asthma and emphysema.

Dumping this toxic waste into the air of our region makes no sense any more than it would if the residents of the York -Lancaster area began dumping all of their household wastes, free of charge, on the properties owned by Perdue’s chicken business in Salisbury, Md.

This hazardous method for the disposal of hexane waste should not be permitted by DEP, since not only is it unhealthy, but it also has been shown to be totally unnecessary. According to a recent news article (Lancaster Farming, May 24, 2014), one of the largest organic grain buyers in the country, Bell & Evans, does not use hexane to process soybeans for its chicken feed and will soon be processing as many tons of soybeans as Perdue would process in its proposed factory in Conoy Township.  Scott Sechler, president of Bell & Evans, said his company will be signing grain contracts for the next two years. If Perdue also eliminated the use of hexane in the proposed soybean extraction factory, wouldn’t it be possible to help our local soybean farmers have a larger market for their soybeans without further polluting the air in our region with toxic hexane?

The fact that the latest application was submitted the day before the recent gubernatorial election raises the suspicion that Perdue may be hoping to speed this through the DEP review process and get it approved before Governor- elect Tom Wolf takes office on Jan. 20.  I strongly urge the residents of York and Lancaster counties to send an email to Tom Wolf at his transition committee office and ask him to make sure this does not happen. Please join together and make your voices heard. His email address is: info@wolftransitionpa.com.

— Warren Evans, Hellam Township

Even oil companies agree on climate change (letter)
By Mike Omlor
UPDATED:   01/02/2015 01:12:19 PM EST

June Abernethy proves her anti-science, pro-carbon pollution rant is politically motivated in her letter “Greenhouse gas emissions idiocy” by singling out President Obama, John Kerry and Al Gore for their work in combating climate change. She doesn't criticize the Pentagon which, in a report released months ago, called climate change an immediate threat to our national security. 

Nor does she criticize the Vatican’s speech at a climate summit in New York this September where Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin addressed the United Nations. The message from the Vatican: “The scientific consensus is rather consistent and it is that, since the second half of the last century, warming of the climate system is unequivocal. … This is due to the fact that its principal cause seems to be the increase of greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere due to human activity.” 

Just two weeks ago, senior officials from the Catholic Church on every continent called for the end of fossil fuel use citing climate change’s threat to the global poor as their primary concern.

Nowhere does Mrs. Abernethy criticize the oil giant BP’s statement on climate change on their website which states: “According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), warming of the climate system is unequivocal, and is in large part due to an increase in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from human activity.

Ronald Reagan’s Secretary of State George Shultz has a conservative solution to the problem, a fee on carbon emissions with all of the revenue refunded back to citizens in the form of a dividend, making sure the government doesn’t keep any of the revenue. Climate change is not a liberal vs. conservative issue, despite desperate attempts by some to make it so. Rep. Perry, please take a look at George Shultz’s plan to reducing greenhouse gases warming the planet.

— Mike Omlor,  Washington Township

Help stop soy processing plant (letter)
By Warren Evans
UPDATED:   01/02/2015 01:52:20 PM EST

When the grain and oilseed subsidiary of the Maryland-based Perdue chicken business previously applied for a Pennsylvania DEP permit to build a soybean oil extraction factory in Conoy Township, Lancaster County, it failed to meet the air quality requirements of the permit set by the federal EPA and the state DEP under the federal Clean Air Act.  These standards are designed to protect the public’s health and safety by preventing polluting industries such as Perdue from poisoning and degrading the air we all must breathe.

Last November, Perdue submitted a new revised permit application to the DEP and is now waging a major propaganda campaign in the press to try to convince the public that it has cut the amount of toxic air pollutants that it originally planned to dump into the air from the proposed factory.  However, in spite of these claims, the revised application clearly shows that Perdue does not plan to cut the rate of their toxic hexane emissions but, as in the previous application, it plans to dump over 200 tons per year of waste hexane into the already polluted air in the Lancaster-York region.

It is obvious that Perdue’s propaganda campaign is nothing more than another “smoke and mirrors” tactic being used by this large corporation to avoid meeting the requirements set by the Clean Air Act and DEP and to divert the public’s attention away from the fact that hexane is a highly toxic chemical solvent that can cause serious damage to the lungs and nervous systems of humans, especially children and adults suffering from lung diseases such as asthma and emphysema.
Dumping this toxic waste into the air of our region makes no sense any more than it would if the residents of the York -Lancaster area began dumping all of their household wastes, free of charge, on the properties owned by Perdue’s chicken business in Salisbury, Md.

This hazardous method for the disposal of hexane waste should not be permitted by DEP, since not only is it unhealthy, but it also has been shown to be totally unnecessary. According to a recent news article (Lancaster Farming, May 24, 2014), one of the largest organic grain buyers in the country, Bell & Evans, does not use hexane to process soybeans for its chicken feed and will soon be processing as many tons of soybeans as Perdue would process in its proposed factory in Conoy Township.  Scott Sechler, president of Bell & Evans, said his company will be signing grain contracts for the next two years. If Perdue also eliminated the use of hexane in the proposed soybean extraction factory, wouldn’t it be possible to help our local soybean farmers have a larger market for their soybeans without further polluting the air in our region with toxic hexane?

The fact that the latest application was submitted the day before the recent gubernatorial election raises the suspicion that Perdue may be hoping to speed this through the DEP review process and get it approved before Governor- elect Tom Wolf takes office on Jan. 20.  I strongly urge the residents of York and Lancaster counties to send an email to Tom Wolf at his transition committee office and ask him to make sure this does not happen. Please join together and make your voices heard. His email address is: info@wolftransitionpa.com.

— Warren Evans, Hellam Township