The Punchlist 2-26-2021

The Punchlist is back! Each week at the end of the week, we’ll share some of our favorite sustainability, climate, local, and whatever else – related stories.

This week’s edition features more exciting local and national news about the environment!

Solar Power Made Easy: Solar United Neighbors (SUN) is offering a solar co-op in the boroughs of Etna, Sharpsburg and Millvale. The goal of this co-op is to provide participants with a cheaper and easier way to buy and install residential rooftop solar panels. With the help of SUN, participants can save approximately $5,000 on their solar panels.

Profiting from Carbon Emissions: At a recent budget meeting with the Department of Environmental Protection, state House lawmakers talked about the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI). Under RGGI, power plants would be responsible for paying for each ton of carbon dioxide that they emit. This money is typically spent on clean energy and energy efficiency programs. There was some opposition to rejoining RGGI because of how it might affect workers in the coal industry. This program, however, predicts a net job gain and stable electricity rates and plans to use some of the revenue to help coal communities’ transition to clean energy.

New Farming Practices: With the effects of climate change threatening the yields of Pennsylvania farmers, they’ll need to get a little more creative to ensure the success of their farms. One adaptation method is regenerative farming which includes cover cropping, reducing tillage, diversifying crop rotations, and better managing livestock grazing. The main goal of all of these methods is to increase the amount of organic matter in the soil. These practices also help keep more carbon in the ground, instead of in the atmosphere.

Increase in the Cost of Carbon: President Biden plans to raise the social cost of carbon to at least $52 per ton, which was the figure used during the Obama administration. One paper puts the social cost of carbon at $125 per ton, which will better support the policy measures needed to limit warming to 1.5 to 2 degrees Celsius. President Biden has set the goal of a 100 percent clean energy economy with net-zero emissions by 2050 and in order to achieve this, a higher value will need to be placed on the social cost of carbon.

Greenways Revamped: Through the city’s new Greenway Stewardship Program, Pittsburgh’s 13 greenways will receive funding to make improvements to the deteriorating sites. The first greenway to receive funding is the Hazelwood Greenway which will receive $50,000 from the Trust for Public Land. The push to improve these spaces comes from “10 Minute Walk to a Park” campaign which encourages cities to ensure all residents are in close proximity to a green space. Projects in Hazelwood are set to being as early as May.

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