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News Series: Pennsylvania's Missing Climate Change Reports

Written by Tim Lambert, witf Multimedia News Director | Jan 18, 2014 1:16 PM

(StateImpact Pennsylvania is a collaborative project among witf in Harrisburg and WHYY in Philadelphia to cover Pennsylvania’s booming energy economy. The initiative seeks to inform and engage the public on energy issues through data analysis, accountability reporting and well-crafted broadcast and digital narratives.)

Governor Tom Corbett's administration has spent more than a year ignoring a Pennsylvania law requiring the release of two reports on climate change. StateImpact Pennsylvania learned about the problem and investigated what was holding up the reports.

The 2008 law known as the Pennsylvania Climate Change Act directs the state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to publish the documents.

One report is an overall climate change impact assessment. The other is an action plan for lowering greenhouse gas emissions --both were due in 2012.

Since the deadlines passed, the former head of the DEP has publicly questioned the science behind climate change, the department’s Policy Office has attempted to suppress peer reviewed research, and the agency staffer charged with overseeing the publication of the reports has resigned out of frustration.

In December 2013, Governor Corbett’s nominee to run the DEP said in his confirmation hearing he was not aware climate change can cause harm. The governor’s top energy adviser has also expressed skepticism over climate science.

witf's StateImpact Pennsylvania reporter Marie Cusick takes a closer look...

Story 1:

Despite widespread scientific agreement about the risks of climate change, the issue has become highly politicized.

After President Obama recently announced his plans to tackle global warming, Governor Corbett called the proposal a war on coal and jobs.

StateImpact Pennsylvania’s Marie Cusick reports that while the Corbett Administration is critical of federal action on the issue, it’s also been ignoring a Pennsylvania law requiring the state to address climate change.

Story 2:

A pair of legally-mandated reports about how climate change will impact the state are currently a year overdue.

StateImpact Pennsylvania’s Marie Cusick looks at why they’ve been delayed, and how one industry is already adapting to warmer temperatures.

Story 3:

Governor Corbett’s nominees for the commonwealth's two most important environmental jobs have been approved by a Senate committee.

But, the man tapped to head the Department of Environmental Protection offered some potentially controversial comments on the issue of climate change.

StateImpact Pennsylvania’s Marie Cusick has more on the candidates tapped to head of the D-E-P and the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.

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