PennFuture 2014 Gubernatorial Candidate Questionnaire

by Paul Glover

1) What are your views on climate change and what should Pennsylvania do to reduce carbon emissions?

As global warming accelerates, Pennsylvania’s transition must sharpen. Without aggressive energy efficiency there is no national defense, no real community development nor personal success.

Thus, complete rebuilding of our cities and farms during the next 100 years, toward balance with nature, should be Pennsylvania’s foremost definition of progress, and will be the top priority of my administration. Green building and energy efficiency are the essential foundations of a healthy economy. We can gradually cut reliance on fossil fuels by 80%.

Solar cities, schools, and suburbs should receive incentives for passive solar construction and retrofit, attached greenhouses and atria, heat grabbers, sun tubes, etc. Funding will be sparked by regional stock exchanges dedicated to eco-development.

Current dependence on centralized utilities drag us into the past, financially and environmentally. While we focus on efficient retrofits, steam cogeneration should get sharp fuel rate discounts. Geothermal and wind should be welcomed into the smart grid as well, and net metering should welcome these small generators. Mountaintop removal should end. Transport of coal slurry should end.

Further, I would shift the State’s budget from road building to rail and transit. The era of the automobile, whether gasoline or electric, must gracefully fade, as we build for proximity rather than speed. A penny-per-gallon gas tax paves this route.

In like manner, I’d shift the State’s subsidies from oil-soaked agribusiness to instead stimulate regional farms, especially CSAs that are organic and GMO-free. I’d encourage urban greenhousing and permaculture (I’m founder of the Philadelphia Orchard Project). Planting millions of trees in cities will greatly reduce carbon emissions, by cooling urban heat islands and cutting air conditioning loads.

As well, import replacement programs will stimulate regional manufacture of green products, decreasing our dependence on global imports while creating jobs.

Perhaps most challenging, I’d encourage a shift from our consumer culture to a creative culture. Success and the good life might be better defined as preparing a legacy of beautiful cities, rather than mountains of trash.

Many of us want big change, but few of us want to be changed. Therefore proposed policy changes must promise both immediate and long-range benefits. They must be safe. They must be stylish. They must be fun. Those who invest must be celebrated for redirecting investments. Those who love shopping must have green products. Those afraid of sharing must be assured of control.

A Green governor would nominate like-minded experts to the PUC.

I've taught urban studies (Metropolitan Ecology) at Temple University, and written the article "Beyond LEED," which proposes stronger LEED standards. I'm author of Ithaca Power, a comprehensive energy survey of that region (1988), which received a grant from the Fund for Investigative Journalism.

2) How does protection and promotion of public health and the environment factor into your decisions about energy and economic development?

Economic expansion which damages the health of humans, animals, plants, soil, water and air is not progress but decay. Real economic development therefore celebrates and rewards the contributions to a healthy economy made by environmentalists and green energy businesses.

During the past 30 years I’ve taken several initiatives to model this change. Green energy is a priority investment in my plans for the Philadelphia Regional & Independent Stock Exchange (PRAISE), which would gather capital of all kinds for regional eco-development. I’ve reported for “Ethical Markets.” I'm a former teacher of Green Jobs at Temple University, and author of the book Deep Green Jobs I’m former editor of Green Jobs Philly News, a monthly collage of Philadelphia’s green economy. These feature green energy innovations. I’m founder of Ithaca HOURS local currency, a regional business association (500 participating businesses) which has traded millions of dollars value while promoting green enterprise.

Making the explicit connection between health care, earth care, and the economy, I’m founder of the Ithaca Health Alliance and author of the book Health Democracy. Here are excerpts from my 1998 Health Advocacy preamble, which refers to climate change:

FRESH AIR Eighty percent of our bodies' daily intake, by weight, is air. Thus quality of air anchors health. Health Alliances favor zoning that brings work, play, shopping and school close together so that walking, biking and transit can replace automobiles. We favor energy efficiency, to reduce air pollution.
CLEAN WATER Our bodies are 90% water, so we're as healthy as the water we drink. Health Alliances thus favor water conservation, xeriscaping, green industry, reduced consumerism, sewerage reform, greater reliance on organic vegetarian diets, all of which reduce waste and contamination.
STABLE SOCIETY Peace is healthy; war is unhealthy. Peace depends on fair distribution of political power and wealth; population control; respect for cultural, religious and ethnic diversity. Health Alliances will advocate against war and for peace.
HEALTHY PLANET All the health needs above are based on the vitality of the Earth. Destruction of the ozone layer, forests and species; coupled with climate change, are injuries no doctor can mend.

3) Describe your plan for meeting Pennsylvania’s energy needs.

My main aim would be to set Pennsylvania on the long path to durable abundance without fossil fuels or nuclear power. To do this, I’d give top budget priority, as I said above, to residential and business energy efficiency (especially insulation and passive solar); incentives for solar, wind and low-head hydro electric; rail and transit, bike paths, regional manufacture (especially of insulation). We need to reduce hurdles and fees for interconnection and net metering.

Reduced throwaway consumerism will dramatically decrease our dependence on fossil fuels, by retaining money in-state. Every Pennsylvania dollar not lost to global utilities multiplies our ability to create green jobs doing the above, and the following. So I’d shift the State budget's $2.6 billion fossil fuel subsidies toward solar, wind, green construction and green schools.  I’d encourage municipal eledtric distribution. I’d restore high tax incentives for residential solar and wind.

I’ve written the article “Beyond LEED,” which introduces stronger LEED metrics. I endorse strong PACE standards. I’d push thermostats with motion sensors, green roofs, solar atria, sun tubes, HVAC monitoring, CFLs, Energy Star everything, including computers. My book Green Jobs Philly” describes how these more decentralized technologies lower the costs of living in lower-income neighborhoods.

4) Other states have adopted strong regulations to reduce fugitive methane emissions associated with natural gas development. What is your view on the importance of controlling methane emissions from natural gas development, and what would you do as governor, if anything, to reduce methane emissions?

Methane is a more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide. Hydrofracking is already damaging Pennsylvania’s water, homes and roads, through methane releases into water and air. An estimated five percent of well casings are expected to fail soon after installation.Even “properly” managed wells spread fumes. With 100,000 wells projected, we would need not only an army of field monitors but an army of incorruptible monitors backed by a DEP with courage and teeth. It will be impossible to tax fracking enough to offset the permanent damage to water, health, communities and businesses. Wells are already exploding, containment pits are leaking, and trains are derailing. Thus, a West Virginia-style catastrophe looms.

I am the only candidate for governor of Pennsylvania who would ban hydrofracking. A moratorium on fracking is merely a stay of execution. Anything less than a ban is irresponsible. Mere regulation of fracking is not mature compromise, but capitulation to greed.

Therefore, wherever current drilling contracts can’t be broken, prohibitive remediation bonds should be imposed. We should make criminally liable the chief executive of any company whose wells leak, and we should close those wells. We should ban intercounty and interstate transport of fracking fluids. We should end pipeline extension, particularly for export facilities. We should encourage township bans.

I would nominate PUC commissioners who agree.

5) In June, EPA will announce a proposed standard under the Clean Air Act (the 111(d) rule for existing-sources of carbon emissions) to limit carbon dioxide from existing power plants. The Commonwealth will be required to develop a state-specific plan to obtain the carbon reductions established by the federal standard. What policies would you propose Pennsylvania incorporate into its plan?

Power plants are Pennsylvania’s greatest sources of carbon dioxide release. No new coal plants should be built; nor any further oil, gas, biomass or nuclear plants. Existing plants with low heat rate performance would be expected to optimize combustion, replace turbine blades, precombust. Energy efficiency must outpace the retirement rates of existing conventional power plants.

While demand side management is the greatest priority, carbon capture through integrated gasification combined cycle technologies, and enhanced oil rcovery, immediately reduce CO2 emissions. Power plant owners should have discretion to choose how they would achieve required emission reductions. Transparent reporting and independent monitoring are essential.

We should end trash incineration, and export of trash for incineration, because trash-to-energy CO2 emissions are worse than coal, while trash burning produces dioxins that cause birth defects and cancer. Deconstruction of buildings and re-use of materials rather than demolition should be encouraged.

We should expect lower-emitting plants to provide more base load, regardless of spot price. We should establish baseline measurements that include all sources, but not permit carbon trading credits that reduce the phasing out of fossil fuel plants. This closes a significant carbon pollution loophole.

We must surpass federal regulations with natural gas plants as well. We cannot allow conversions from coal to natural gas in the name of clean energy, since fracked gas GHG emissions are far worse than coal, when leakage from pipelines and compressor stations is counted. Methane leakage from gas drilling is far greater than EPA estimates.

Special attention to utility-generated pollution is needed in low-income communities and communities of color, where contamination is typically most hazardous. Our state should exceed federal standards, and prohibit coal gasification in these areas.

I would appoint members to PUC with proven loyalty to these themes.

6) What is your view of the role energy efficiency and conservation should play in meeting Pennsylvania’s energy needs?

Reduced fuel demand through efficiency tops my agenda. Energy efficiency is our state’s key to healthy people, healthy economy, healthy future. The best fuel, ultimately, is no fuel.

Decades from now, no housing will be affordable, nor any business sustainable, unless passive solar. Such buildings have proven to reduce fuel needs to near zero, even in cold climates. Thus solar construction, both passive and active, should be fast tracked and rewarded.  I would expand AEPS and push for a range of green building incentives, both grants and interest-free loans. I support Pennsave's Energy Performance Contracting.  The Uniform Construction Code should be updated biannually to embrace the most aggressively energy efficient methods and technologies.  My appointments to the UCC Review and Advisory Council will match this aim. Deconstruction and re-use of building materials should be preferred to demolition. I will convene a Green Building Commission.  Appointees will be chosen from among those proving lifelong dedication to green themes, having no connection to fossil fuel industries.

As Governor, I’d support requiring high-performance building standards for all school buildings that are newly constructed or undergoing major renovation. Among these standards should be green roofs and schoolyards, solar atria, sun tubes, HVAC monitoring, CFLs, Energy Star everything (including computers).  But again, passive solar is key, to fully fund public schools.  Would seek federal grants and interest-free loans (such as Qualified Zone Academy Bonds). At the same time, green curricula are needed, to teach the skills of neighborhood management.

I’ve drafted plans for the Philadelphia Insulation Factory (PIF), which would convert newspapers into cellulose insulation, employing low-income neighbors to manufacture and install, gaining reduced utility bills.