Springfield Township comes out in support of state’s participation in Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative

By Betsy Wallace
Posted 12/16/20

At their monthly Workshop meeting on Monday, December 7, all of the Township’s Commissioners signed a letter supporting Governor Wolf’s efforts to participate in RGGI, joining the first group of the Montgomery County municipalities to do so. 

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Springfield Township comes out in support of state’s participation in Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative

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At their monthly Workshop meeting on Monday, December 7, all of the Township’s Commissioners signed a letter supporting Governor Wolf’s efforts to participate in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), joining the first group of the Montgomery County municipalities to do so.  Those municipalities include Ambler, Hatboro, North Wales, Plymouth, Upper Dublin, and Upper Merion.  Springfield Township was also one of the first municipalities in Pennsylvania to commit to reducing its carbon footprint through the Sierra Club’s Nationwide “Ready for 100” campaign.

Joy Bergey, speaking in her capacity as a private citizen and as an advocate for clean energy at Springfield Township’s workshop meeting on December 7, urged the Commissioners to sign the letter supporting the State’s participation in RGGI.  Bergey emphasized that, according to expert analyses, RGGI can produce a 21% reduction in carbon pollution, more than 27,000 jobs, an injection of $1.9 billion into Pennsylvania’s economy, and $6 billion in health benefits through 2030. 

Bergey is one of many citizen advocates working in a month-long campaign to submit public comments of municipal support for RGGI to the Environmental Quality Board (EQB), an independent board chaired by the Secretary of Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), that governs the adoption of all Environmental Regulations proposed by the DEP.  The Board consists of eleven state agencies and four members of the State Senate and House.

The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative is a pioneering, market-based program to cut carbon pollution from power plants in nine Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic states.  Since the start of its “cap and invest” program in 2005, the RGGI participating states have collectively reduced power sector carbon dioxide pollution by over 45 percent, while experiencing per capita Gross Domestic Product growth and reducing energy costs for businesses.

Currently, RGGI includes the states of Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island, New Jersey, and Vermont.  Virginia appears to be positioned to join RGGI soon.  If the Pennsylvania EQB adopts the rules permitting the State’s participation in the RGGI, then Pennsylvania could sign a contract with RGGI, identify agency heads to join the RGGI Board of Directors, and begin administrative and technical preparation, including gaining access to the RGGI CO2 Allowance Tracking System (COATS).

For more information on how cap and invest system will work in Pennsylvania, go to the DEP website: https://www.dep.pa.gov/Citizens/climate/Pages/RGGI.aspx

COVID Preparedness

Mike Taylor, Township Manager, reported at the Workshop Meeting that the Workers Compensation Trust received 50 rapid PCR test kits for the Township’s essential workers.  The tests will be administered through providers affiliated with the Trust.  Taylor also reported that the Township’s Public Works Director, Don Sirianni, confirmed that all of the Township’s mutual aid agreements with other municipalities are in place in case the Township needs extra personnel help with snow removal and trash just in case employees get sick due to COVID or other conditions.

2021 Budget Adoption

At its December Business meeting, the Board of Commissioners passed its proposed 2021 budget by unanimous vote.  No residents appeared at the Budget hearing.  Township residents can see the 2021 budget here: https://www.springfieldmontco.org/media/2898/springfield-twp-proposed-2021-budget-full.pdf

Police Community Relations

Commissioner Graham reported at the Township’s Workshop meeting that the PA Human Relations Commission’s Senior Counsel reviewed the Township ordinance and recommended changes.  The PA Human Relations Commission will continue to work with the Township in drafting changes to the current ordinance.

Progress on the Survey:  Erin Cassar and He Lun Chung have now received feedback on the survey questions from Chief Pitkow, the Commissioners, and parents of Multi-Cultural Parents Association.  They have drafted a more formal survey plan as a result of those meetings.  Mike Taylor asked about the possibility of skewed results caused by multiple survey submissions by residents.  Cassar said that the larger the number of survey responses, the less that multiple submissions by residents, if they happen at all, will have any effect on the results.  Cassar and Chung will monitor the demographic data from the surveys to see if it is reflective of the Township.  Cassar will also check whether the IP address could limit multiple submissions by one resident.  Kelly King, a Township resident, pointed out that there are four easy solutions to the multiple survey submission issue if the Township would spend money on it.

Commissioner Cobb expressed concern that the survey questions were focusing too much on negative interactions with police whereas surveys from other police departments seemed to be more even-handed.  Cassar welcomed Cobb’s feedback and asked for the police studies he had reviewed to see if they could incorporate some of the questions.  Cassar emphasized that the survey is just one way of many ways for residents to voice their perceptions of the police.  “The power in survey will be in answers to open questions,” Cassar said.  “The quantitative numbers will add context to the stories.”  Commissioner Lee commented that “there’s no way to get around it.  We need to hear from people who feel they are being treated differently.”  Taylor added that Chief Pitkow said that the survey looks great and is on board with it.

Grant Funds for Cisco Park

At the Business meeting, the Board of Commissioners voted unanimously to execute a grant agreement with the PA Department of Conservation and Natural Resources for the Cisco Park Playground project.  This will allow the release of $134,000 in grant funds to the Township.

Appointments to Boards/Commissions

The Board Of Commissioners voted unanimously to appoint two new alternates to the Police Civil Service Commission, Elizabeth Natales and Elizabeth McNamara, for 6-year terms that expire on 7/16/2026.

The Board of Commissioners also voted unanimously to reappoint the following members to their Commissions/Boards for three-year terms expiring on December 31, 2023.

Library Advisory Commission - Kathleen Klem; Nail DiFranco; Jennifer Kolodner; and Kate McGranahan.

Historic Commission - Matthew Harris and Heather Killinger.

Zoning Board - Megan McDonough.

Township residents can request an audio recording of the Workshop Meeting by contacting Michael Taylor, Township Manager, by email: mtaylor@springfieldmontco.org.  Residents may view the Recorded Business meetings and check all Public Meeting Agendas and Minutes here: https://www.springfieldmontco.org/government/meeting-agendas-minutes/.

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