YARDLEY BOROUGH >> The Yardley Borough Council on June 4 approved a resolution urging U.S. Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick to co-sponsor and vote for the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividends Act of 2019.
The council voted 4-1 with one abstention to endorse the resolution, which says that the proposed climate change bill pending before the U.S. House of Representatives “would reduce emissions, save lives, act to protect borough residents from the impacts of climate change and provide a net economic boost to the borough and its residents.”
The resolution also “respectfully requests that our Representative, Brian Fitzpatrick, cosponsor and vote for this bill and that our two Senators, Robert Casey and Pat Toomey, cosponsor and vote for the Senate companion bill as soon as it is introduced.”
Yardley Borough resident Tom Wells, a volunteer with the Bucks-Mont Chapter of the Citizens’ Climate Lobby (CCL), and Mike Hoy, also a volunteer with the CCL, brought the resolution to the borough council for action. Wells, Hoy and CCL are actively lobbying municipalities around Bucks County and the region to take action on the issue of climate change.
“We want to prove to our federally- elected representatives that there is political will in the community for them to take decisive action to mitigate the affects of climate change,” Wells told council. “That’s why we’re asking you to sign this resolution.”
Congressman Fitzpatrick was the original co-sponsor of the bill when it was introduced last year. He has not, however, co-sponsored H.R. 763, which was reintroduced this year, said Wells.
There are currently 44 cosponsors of the bill, including 43 Democrats and one Republican.
“Every day we put more pollution into the atmosphere. It is hurting us right now and it is going to hurt our children and our grandchildren. If we don’t deal with this now, we will be leaving a horrible legacy for everyone who comes after us,” said Wells.
H.R. 763 would put a fee on fossil fuels like coal, oil and gas starting out low and then growing over time with the idea of driving down carbon pollution and pushing companies, industries, and consumers toward cleaner, cheaper options.
“It sends a signal to industry that the price of fossil fuels is going to go higher and higher and people are going to go, ‘I really like this car, but I could be driving an electric car and paying a third of the energy bill,’” said Wells. “Motor companies around the world are already planning on many, many models of electric vehicles because they know this is coming.”
Under the legislation, the money collected from the carbon fee would be allocated in equal shares every month to the American people to spend as they see fit. Program costs would be paid from the fees collected, but the government would not keep any of the money from the fee.
Voting in favor of the resolution were Council President Bryon Marshall, Vice President David Bria and members Caroline Thompson and Ryan Berry.
Thompson said with 50 percent of borough residents living in a floodplain, it’s important that the issue of climate change be addressed.
“I firmly believe my house is not going to be here in 100 years. This is a real issue,” said Thompson. “We need to come together and figure out how we’re going to deal with this as a community, as a state and as a nation.”
Voting against was Matt Ross.
“I’m all for doing whatever we can to help the environment, but you’re going to add a tax to something that’s already highly taxed," said Ross. "This doesn’t actually do anything to help climate change. It’s just adding a tax.”
Councilwoman Sandi Brady commended Wells and Hoy for their passion regarding the topic, but said she would be abstaining from the vote. “I don’t believe people elected me to be their voice on federal level issues so I don’t feel it’s right for me to do that.”
Marshall disagreed, saying he believes the council has a responsibility to act. “I’m not sure if this is it (the solution), but I think we have a responsibility.”
Much of the 12 paragraph resolution focuses on climate change and the “threat” it poses to the Borough in terms of economic, public health and the environmental consequences of greenhouse gases being emitted into the atmosphere.
“As a result of climate change, Bucks County and the Northeastern United States is experiencing warming temperatures, resulting in erratic weather patterns,” reads the resolution.
It says that “more frequent heat waves in Yardley Borough and the Northeast are expected to threaten human health through more heat stress. More excessive heat impacts outdoor activities such as individual and team sports played on local fields, and residents and tourists who use outdoor facilities for biking, hiking and sightseeing, as well as those residents who work in the construction and landscaping industries or hire persons who perform such work.”
It also says that “an increase in the amount of and frequency of rainfall during precipitation events are expected to increase Delaware River flooding, turbidity and bank erosion. This will also contribute to higher water levels in the Delaware Bay, threatening storm water drainage systems, roads, Delaware River fresh water intake facilities, buildings, bridges and infrastructure.”
The resolution continues, “As temperatures rise and erratic rainfall patterns increase, agriculture in Bucks County and Pennsylvania will face reduced yields, increased soil erosion, pressure from invasive insect and plant species, potentially damaging livelihoods and the regional economy.”
The resolution concludes by saying that “Congress has the responsibility to act swiftly and meaningfully on the issue of climate change” and that “legislation should not be economically burdensome on Yardley Borough residents.”