Here’s the proposed legislation banning single-use plastic bags

(The latest in a series of posts relating to the environment, Bethlehem’s Climate Action Plan, Bethlehem’s Environmental Advisory Council)

from Lynn Rothman

Following is the recommendation from the Bethlehem Environmental Advisory Council (EAC) advising the City of Bethlehem to enact legislation banning single-use plastic bags. The City may modify the proposal and will ensure it is in legal form, should they decide to move forward with the recommendation. The City has been receptive to the proposal, and, upon request, we have provided additional ordinances from other cities to serve as examples.

EAC.Plastic.Bag.Ordinance.Proposal

The work was done by the EAC’s Waste Reduction Task Force, chaired by Beth Behrend, with committee members Jackie Cook and Amanda Allekott, both graduate students at Lehigh University.

The EAC is chaired by Lynn Rothman, with members Elizabeth Behrend, Elisabeth Cichonski, Kathy Fox, Brian Hillard, and Mike Topping.

Reminder: Free showing of and panel discussion about the documentary Paris to Pittsburgh Wednesday, March 27, 7pm (reception at 6:30), STEPS building (catacorner from the Chapel on Packer Ave.), Lehigh University.

It’s Tuesday, March 26, do you know where your local Climate Action Plan is?

EAC proposal: an ordinance that would ban single-use plastic bags

(The latest in a series of posts relating to the environment, Bethlehem’s Climate Action Plan, Bethlehem’s Environmental Advisory Council)

Free showing of and panel discussion about the documentary Paris to Pittsburgh Wednesday, March 27, 7pm (reception at 6:30), STEPS building (catercorner from the Chapel on Packer Ave.), Lehigh University.

Beth Behrend is a member of the Bethlehem Environmental Advisory Council and head of the Waste Reduction Committee of the EAC.

Gadfly: Here is what I said at the City Council town hall meeting on Tuesday.

First, I want to start off by thanking the mayor for attending the Mayor’s conference on sustainability and showing a commitment to our planet.

The EAC recently submitted a proposal to city council to pass an ordinance that would ban single-use plastic bags and apply a fee on all paper bags given to customers at the point of sale.  I would like to see city council move forward with this measure and ask for your support for a ban on plastic bags.

The majority of the world already lives in a place where these bags are banned or levied.  We are the ones that are behind.  Narberth became the first borough in Pennsylvania to ban plastic bags back in October 2018, and I think it is important that we put more effort into caring for our environment.

Most plastic bags are made from nonrenewable energy sources, thus contributing to air pollution and climate change, and while some can be recycled, they are not easy to recycle and they never fully break down.  In terms of costs, it is expensive to remove them when they get caught in storm drains or recycling facilities that are not designed to handle that type of recycling.  It’s the tax payers that end up paying those costs.  Research shows the passing of an ordinance like the one we proposed will drastically reduce both plastic and paper bag usage.

While our committee was putting together information on the proposal, we surveyed business owners in Bethlehem, and the response was overwhelmingly in support of eliminating plastic bags.  Eighty percent of business owners who responded were either in favor of eliminating plastic bags or are neutral on the subject.  Bethlehem is ready for this change, and I ask that you follow the lead of Narberth, Pennsylvania, and ban these unnecessary items. Thank you.

Beth

You can see Beth make this presentation to City Council at their March 19 meeting via the link above or on YouTube <City of Bethlehem Council> starting at min. 5:50.

Stay tuned — in the next post in this series, we’ll post the EAC proposal to which Beth refers  (note how craftily Gadfly avoided ending this sentence with a proposition).

It’s Sunday, March 24, do you know where your local Climate Action Plan is?

Thoughts on the Mayor’s presentation

(The latest in a series of posts relating to the environment, Bethlehem’s Climate Action Plan, Bethlehem’s Environmental Advisory Council)

Gadfly forgot to let you know about the free showing of and panel discussion about the documentary Paris to Pittsburgh Wednesday, March 27, 7pm (reception at 6:30), STEPS building (catacorner from the Chapel on Packer Ave.), Lehigh University. Tip o’ the hat to the ubiquitous Kathy Fox!

Dana Grubb is a lifelong resident of the City of Bethlehem who worked 27 years for the City of Bethlehem in the department of community and economic development, as sealer of weights and measures, housing rehabilitation finance specialist, grants administrator, acting director of community and economic development, and deputy director of community development.

Gadfly:

I would question the migration to artificial Christmas trees from live trees given that live Christmas trees are a renewable crop that are rather easily composted, and artificial trees are not. I believe this to be a false narrative that it is beneficial to the environment, rather that it is more a cost efficiency issue with their installation.

Also, I would agree that a new round of public education on recycling programs is very necessary, given that it’s been at least ten years since the City of Bethlehem undertook a comprehensive approach to advertising and education in order to get buy-in from residents and businesses.

I reside in one of the larger rental communities in the City. The solid waste container for my neighborhood is often stuffed with all kinds of recyclable materials such as cardboard, glass, plastic and metallic items. Although the complex is required as a commercial entity (not as a housing entity) to provide containers for the collection of these items, I’ve peered into those large roll-offs and have seen ordinary household waste co-mingled with what can and should be recycled. This contamination defeats the purpose and probably sends much of that material to landfills.

Finally, revising City ordinances to require solar energy panels on roofs of new development of a certain footprint would be a big step toward renewable energy independence given the proliferation of huge warehouses in our area. It would also allow for on property parking for tractor trailers and provide electric power to be used to service a rig, instead of it running constantly and spewing exhaust into the atmosphere.

Dana

Bethlehem going green

(The latest in a series of posts relating to the environment, Bethlehem’s Climate Action Plan, Bethlehem’s Environmental Advisory Council)

Dawn Nixon, “Lehigh Valley leaders discuss efforts to go green.” WFMZ, March 12, 2019.

On March 12 our Mayor Donchez joined with representatives from Allentown and Whitehall at the Lehigh Valley Mayors’ Sustainability forum  to discuss Valley efforts to Mayor sustainability“go green.”

The Mayor talked of converting to LED lights; working with UGI and PPL to reduce the amount of gas used by local businesses; such key components as green buildings, energy efficiency and conservation, water and wastewater systems and climate friendly transportation; and plans for a consultant to assist the city in developing a climate action plan.

“Mayor Donchez closed the forum’s discussion by commenting on how any efforts made by individual cities benefit the entire Lehigh Valley. ‘The more we work together on key issues, the better the Lehigh Valley will be as a whole,’ he said.”

Here for us are the key slides from the Mayor’s presentation showing work done and on the radar:

Sustainability 1

Sustinability 2

Sustinability 3

Susatainability 4

It’s Friday, March 22, do you know where your local Climate Action Plan is?

Climate watch: March 3

(The latest in a series of posts relating to the environment, Bethlehem’s Climate Action Plan, Bethlehem’s Environmental Advisory Council)

Interesting day on the climate front —

CBS: 60 Minutes (March 3, 2019): Juliana v. the United States

“Of all the cases working their way through the federal court system none is more interesting or potentially more life changing than Juliana v. United States. To quote one federal judge, “This is no ordinary lawsuit.” It was filed back in 2015 on behalf of a group of kids who are trying to get the courts to block the U.S. government from continuing the use of fossil fuels. They say it’s causing climate change, endangering their future and violating their constitutional rights to life, liberty and property. When the lawsuit began hardly anyone took it seriously, including the government’s lawyers, who have since watched the Supreme Court reject two of their motions to delay or dismiss the case. Four years in, it is still very much alive, in part because the plaintiffs have amassed a body of evidence that will surprise even the skeptics and have forced the government to admit that the crisis is real.”

“Your View by 15 Lehigh professors: We really do need to worry about climate change — and act.” Morning Call, March 3, 2019.

“Climate has been in the news, thanks to the release of several concerning reports, plus reactions to the proposed Green New Deal. Our Lehigh colleague in Economics, Tony O’Brien, recently published an opinion piece in these pages (Feb. 17) in which he claimed that climate-change impacts won’t be very bad, so there’s no need to go all-in on the Green New Deal, and that a nonideological view suggests a carbon tax is the far better approach. We’d actually agree that a carbon tax would be one important part of an effective climate policy, but what motivates us to write is concern over widespread misunderstandings of the earth system and how it pertains to people and society, misunderstandings that happen to be well illustrated in O’Brien’s column.”

Inslee for America

Gov. Jay Inslee has formally announced for the presidency with basically climate change his sole position. Click on his initial campaign video on the top page of his web site.

Let’s keep climate change and our Climate Action Plan on our radar.

It’s Monday, March 4, do you know where your local Climate Action Plan is?

free marketers never acknowledge their own pie-in-the sky fantasy

Breena Holland is an Associate Professor at Lehigh University in the Department of Political Science and the Environmental Initiative. She is a past and current director of Lehigh University’s South Side Initiative.

Gadfly:

It’s great to see the likes of Jonah Goldberg feeling threatened enough by the GND that they have to come out and try to stifle its momentum. Note that his comments do not at any point acknowledge the seriousness of the climate change problem and the importance of a radical reduction in emissions over the next decade. The GND may be an aspirational document, but there is real thinking behind it and real policy wonks starting to figure out what implementing it would entail. I find it outrageous that free marketers at the American Enterprise Institute never acknowledge their own pie-in-the sky fantasy that markets can solve environmental problems. They are the ones who are living in a fantasy world. Yes, government can always do better, and there are some social problems that markets can be left to fix. But climate change is not one of them. Conservatives in this country seem to be the only significant political group in all of the industrialized-democratic world who still think such problems can be solved without significant government intervention. There are no solutions in Goldberg’s article, no acknowledgement of the significance of the problem, and no references to support any of his claims. It’s no wonder 60 reps in the house have already jumped on board with AOC’s fantasy.

Breena

Require climate impacts on new developments and major renovations

See Kathy Fox’s “A question for prospective city council members”

Kathy:

I think climate impacts — and other sustainability impacts — should definitely be required for all planning & zoning submissions — for all new developments & major renovations. As a starting point, we could use the Sustainability Impact Assessment project completed by 5 students last summer.
[https://www.sustainlv.org/focus_on/sustainability-impact-assessment/]

Peter Crownfield

(Be sure to see Peter’s comments on the “Thinking green” and “Reducing carbon emissions” posts as well.)