President Trump's reckless decision to withdraw our country from the historic Paris Climate Agreement has put the health, safety and economy of both Pennsylvania and the United States in peril. Climate change affects all things, from industries such as agriculture and tourism to the health and mortality of infants and children. It is the No. 1 most pressing challenge affecting every nation on the planet.
As a mom, business leader and legislator, I cannot just stand by while this decision puts the health and economic future of our children at risk. In the absence of leadership at the federal level, state and local governments must lead the effort to protect the future of our communities, the commonwealth and our country.
That is why I introduced H.R. 421, urging Pennsylvania to join the 1,200 local officials, businesses – including Apple, Facebook, Google, Target and Walmart — and educational institutions across the nation who have committed to upholding elements of the Paris Agreement by signing on to the U.S. Climate Alliance. Many Pennsylvanians have already joined the effort: The signers include nine Pennsylvania mayors and the leaders of 15 Pennsylvania colleges and universities, including the presidents of Allegheny College, Bryn Mawr College, Chatham University, Drexel University, Elizabethtown College, Gettysburg University, Lebanon Valley College, Lehigh University, Millersville University, Penn State University and Villanova University.
Formed in response to the president's decision to withdraw from the Paris Agreement, members of the U.S. Climate Alliance are committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 26 to 28 percent from 2005 levels and meeting or exceeding the goals of the federal Clean Power Plan. By committing to clear benchmarks, we can start to mitigate the harmful effects of climate change – such as rising temperatures, extreme weather, increased smog and more — while creating family-sustaining jobs in Pennsylvania.
According to a report released last year, 5,400 direct and indirect jobs would be created every year if the U.S. meets its goals to reduce methane emissions by the oil and gas industry. Many of the jobs created in the clean energy sector pay well and provide long-term security. The median hourly wage for workers in the methane mitigation industry is $30.88, for example, compared with $19.60 for all U.S. jobs.
Joining the Climate Alliance is a step toward fulfilling our moral obligation to provide the next generation with an environment in better shape than the one we inherited. If we don't commit ourselves to taking action, we hand our children a world of increased food insecurity, higher rates of respiratory diseases like asthma, and increased transmission of some infectious diseases, just some of the negative effects of climate change.
By adopting my resolution and urging Gov. Wolf to sign Pennsylvania to join the thirteen states already in the Climate Alliance, we can position our commonwealth to be a leader in sustainable energy jobs for decades to come, all while ensuring for our children a planet with breathable air, drinkable water and a livable climate.
I thank my 39 colleagues in the General Assembly who have signed on as co-sponsors for H.R. 421. If you also want Pennsylvania to be a leader in the fight against climate change, contact your local elected officials and urge them to step up and fill the leadership void created by Trump.
Leanne Krueger-Braneky is a Democratic state representative from Delaware County.