Dipping temperatures, higher prices: why renewables might be the answer | Five for the weekend

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Good weekend to all.
It is Capital-Star Editor-in-Chief John L. Micek, replacing for Associate Editor Cassie Miller, who is taking a well-deserved leave. I will be your host this week and next for the Friday five.

With Thanksgiving days away and the holiday season approaching at an astonishing speed, it won’t be long before we all pull out our winter coats and adjust our thermometers higher (though some of us haven’t already. made).

These plunging temperatures will also lead to more expensive utility bills (especially this year), as most of us get our heat and power from electricity and natural gas sources.

But as one conservationist argues, this may also be the time to seriously think about the transition to renewable sources such as wind and solar power.

Why? The bottom line: clean energy sources do not suffer from sudden price fluctuations, Mandy warner, of Environmental Defense Fund, argued in a recent blog post.

Citing data compiled by the United States Energy Information Administration (EIA), Warner points out that households that “use natural gas primarily for space heating will spend on average 30% more on heating this winter than last year.”

This is a big problem for Pennsylvania “where more than half Household use natural gas to heat their homes, and much of Pennsylvania’s electricity is powered by natural gas-fired power plants, meaning even those who don’t use natural gas directly for heating can still be affected by price increases ”, Warner writing.

So moving away from fossil fuels “is not only the healthiest option, but the cheapest option in the long run. Pennsylvania’s decision to bind itself to the Regional greenhouse gas initiative (RGGI), a multi-state program reducing climate pollution from power plants and investing in clean energy, offers opportunities to save consumers money,” she writes.

There’s more – the whole post is definitely worth reading your time and CPU power as you settle into the weekend before the holidays.

As always, your Top 5 most read stories of the week start below.

1. W.Pa. Municipalities sue state to block PennDOT Bridge toll plan

Three municipalities in the southern suburbs of Pittsburgh are suing the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation over a $ 2 billion plan to pay for the replacement of nine bridges with future toll revenues.

The lawsuit, which was filed in Commonwealth Court on Thursday, asks the court to block the toll plan and issue an injunction against the state that accepts project bids because a board failed not specifically reviewed or solicited comment on every bridge the department now plans to rebuild.

The plan calls for paying for the construction and maintenance of bridges, which are spread across the Commonwealth, paying travelers for at least the next 30 years. Tolls would probably cost between $ 1 and $ 2 per car.

The lawsuit was brought by the Township of South Fayette, the Township of Collier and the Borough of Bridgeville in Allegheny County.

Representative Gerald Mullery, D-Luzerne, leaves a House committee hearing on public sector unions on Monday 11/15/21 (screenshot).

2. Democrats organize walkout of House hearing on bills strengthening public sector labor laws

Democratic lawmakers left a hearing of the House Republican-led committee on public sector unions on Monday, saying the focus of the hearing was out of place.

“This committee should discuss ways to strengthen our workforce and get people back to work,” Representative Gerald Mullery, D-Luzerne, said in brief remarks at the start of the hearing by the House of Commons Committee on Labor and Industry, before leaving the committee room.

The meeting, organized by the chairman of the committee Representative Jim Cox, R-Berks, presented the testimony of Americans for fair treatment, a national group that supports the imposition of additional restrictions on public sector unions, as well as the Equity Center, a public interest law center that has filed more than a dozen legal challenges against these unions.

Black Lives Matter protesters clash on Harrisburg’s Front Street in response to the death of George Floyd on May 30, 2020 (Capital-Star Photo by Stephen Caruso)

3. Bail funds help the poor get out of prison. Lawyers say Pennsylvania bill could shut them down

As the former head of the nation’s leading bail bond industry group lobbies lawmakers, a bill that would treat nonprofits that release people from pretrial detention the same as For-profit businesses quickly and quietly moved forward in Harrisburg this month.

The measure, sponsored by Representative Kate Klunk, R-York, was introduced on November 3 without a memo describing what it would do in layman’s terms.

The House Judiciary Committee sent the proposal to the Full House last Tuesday, and it passed full House 111-88 on Tuesday – a quick turnaround of just two weeks between the bill’s introduction and its release. approval.

Supporters of the bill say nonprofits, known as surety funds, exist in a loophole of state law and should be registered and regulated in some way. . But those who run the nonprofits say the bill is just an attempt to end a focused community effort to challenge mass incarceration.

In a statement to Capital-Star on behalf of Pennsylvania’s Eight Nonprofit Surety Funds, Malik Neal, executive director of the Philadelphia Surety Fund, said the bill would not only hamper their work, but also prevent individuals, community groups and churches from getting involved in helping incarcerated people on an ad hoc basis.

CHANTILLY, VA – NOVEMBER 18: A potential buyer tries out a gun that is on display on an exhibitor’s table during the Nation’s Gun Show on November 18, 2016 at the Dulles Expo Center in Chantilly, Virginia. The show is one of the most important in the region. (Photo by Alex Wong / Getty Images)

4. Pa. House sends unauthorized concealed transport bill to Wolf’s office, which promises his veto

A bill to allow all lawful gun owners in Pennsylvania over the age of 18 to carry a concealed firearm is on the way. Governor Tom Wolfafter its passage by State House 107-92 after more than three and a half hours of debate on the ground Tuesday evening.

The proposal, which would also remove a ban in state law on openly carrying firearms in Philadelphia, was passed by the State Senate 29-21 last week.

Wolf, a Democrat, has already pledged to veto the proposal, and the GOP-controlled legislature has no votes to ignore it.

However, Republicans and other conservative activists have made it clear for months that they want a vote on the bill whether or not it becomes law.

A veto, they argued, would motivate their base ahead of the critical 2022 election, when Republicans could overthrow the open governor’s seat. And the vote will also help gun rights activists identify moderate Republicans who aren’t strong enough on the issue. Wolf will step down in January 2023, having served the constitutional maximum of two four-year terms.

Department of Health Acting Secretary Alison Beam speaks at a press conference. Harrisburg, Pennsylvania – February 17, 2021

5. Wolf administrator denies legislative panel access to data on COVID deaths, says not government agency

The Wolf administration ruled that a six-decade-old legislative committee was not a government agency, blocking its efforts to access 100 redacted death certificates for a COVID-19 data release study.

The Legislative Committee on Budget and Finance, who requested the information, noted the administration’s decision in a report it released this week.

The 12-member committee, split evenly between Democrats and Republicans, oversees a team of 13 people who study topics ranging from the dairy industry to plastic bag bans. Their studies are approved by votes in the legislature, which is currently controlled by Republicans.

The State House launched the study unanimously with a resolution in November 2020.

The resolution cited Health Ministry data “anomalies, inaccuracies, statistical impossibilities and other reporting issues” on COVID-19 tests and cases in nursing homes, among other issues.

“Residents of this Commonwealth must have accurate and reliable COVID-19 data to make choices for their health, safety and security,” the resolution said.

And this is the week. Meeting next week


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