West Bradford Township Among 121 Municipalities to Complete Local Climate Action Training

DEP Secretary Patrick McDonnellDEP Secretary Patrick McDonnell (Credit: Commonwealth Media Services)

HARRISBURG, PA — Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Secretary Patrick McDonnell announced that 12 participants, representing 121 municipalities, have completed the 2021–2022 DEP Local Climate Action Program, conducting inventories of local greenhouse gas emissions and developing plans to reduce emissions and mitigate climate change risk in their communities.

“Climate change is often discussed in terms of global temperature increase, sea level rise, and hundreds of millions of tons of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere,” said Secretary McDonnell. “But the way people experience climate change is at the local level, and along with actions at the state, national, and international levels, actions in our communities are needed to reduce risk. DEP is committed to equipping municipalities in Pennsylvania to plan climate action and strengthen the sustainability of their communities.”

Since it began in 2019, the DEP Local Climate Action Program has provided training to 53 entities, representing approximately 380 municipalities across Pennsylvania.

The following entities, seven of which include environmental justice areas, participated in the 2021–2022 training:

  • Camp Hill Borough, Cumberland County;
  • Carnegie and Swissvale Boroughs, Allegheny County;
  • Delaware County (representing 49 municipalities);
  • Lehigh Valley Planning Commission (representing 62 municipalities);
  • Lewisburg Borough, Union County;
  • Milford Borough, Pike County;
  • Millersville Borough, Lancaster County;
  • O’Hara Township, Allegheny County;
  • Rutledge Borough, Delaware County;
  • Warrington Township, Bucks County; and
  • West Bradford Township, Chester County.
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They were assisted by students from Bryn Mawr College; the University of Pittsburgh; Indiana University of Pennsylvania; and Bucknell, Drexel, Messiah, Moravian, Penn State, Temple, and Wilkes universities.

The DEP Local Climate Action Program pairs municipalities with ICLEI, a national nonprofit that fosters sustainable development, and with college students to perform inventories of greenhouse gas emissions from local buildings, transportation, waste management, and other sectors.

The teams also identify the particular climate-related vulnerabilities in their communities, such as flooding from extreme rainfall and public health impacts from extreme heat, and disproportionate impacts on residents who live in environmental justice areas.

After reviewing recommendations in the Pennsylvania Climate Action Plan, teams use a template to draft local climate action plans to lower emissions and increase resilience to climate change impacts. Once they complete their plans, municipalities are eligible for free services from an energy management consultant, coordinated by DEP, to determine the most effective first steps to reduce emissions.

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Officials from three participating municipalities joined Secretary McDonnell in the announcement.

“Swissvale knows that the future gets made now. Planning and preparing for the future with sustainability and environmental health in mind will make our borough and families stronger,” said Swissvale Borough Council member Shawn Alfonso Wells. “With cleaner air and more sustainability, we not only improve our own environment, but also have an impact on areas around us, and pretty soon these small changes add up to make a big difference.”

“The DEP Local Climate Action Program has greatly increased the capacity of our borough to make informed decisions about the adaptation and hazard mitigation we’ll need to do to respond to the climate crisis. We are fortunate to have participated in the program, as it’s provided a guiding framework we are certain our community will use for decades,” said Taylor Lightman, director of Lewisburg Neighborhoods, a 501c(3) nonprofit dedicated to neighborhood revitalization in Lewisburg Borough.

“Our interest in developing a local climate action plan began with an idea to install rooftop solar panels on our town hall. As we explored the costs and impact of that initiative, we realized we wanted to develop a more comprehensive, holistic approach to working to reduce climate change and prepare for its impacts,” said Rutledge Borough Planning Commission member Sid Misra.

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DEP invites applications for year 4 of the Local Climate Action Program, which begins later this summer. Communities have until June 30 to express their interest. Please contact Christopher Nafe at [email protected] or 717-783-9722 to sign up.

The Local Climate Action Program is run by the DEP Energy Programs Office and funded by the State Energy Program of the U.S. Department of Energy.

Learn more at dep.pa.gov/LocalClimateActionProgram.

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