DEP and Local Officials Kick Off 2022-23 Local Climate Action Program

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) kicked off its 2022-23 Local Climate Action Program with a visit to Wormleysburg Borough in Cumberland County. The county and borough are participants in the program, which has helped hundreds of communities in Pennsylvania measure local greenhouse gas emissions and begin to reduce the risks of climate change.

“As communities across the state experience more extreme weather events, including flooding and record temperatures, many see the need to plan ahead to lessen the risk to their residents, economy, and infrastructure,” said DEP Executive Deputy Secretary Joe Adams. “We’re pleased to launch our fourth year of the Local Climate Action Program, equipping local leaders with the technical and personnel resources to develop and pursue climate actions that are tailored to their community.”

Sixty-four entities, representing more than 440 municipalities, including 46 environmental justice communities, have participated in the DEP Local Climate Action Program since it launched in 2019. Nineteen communities have finalized, adopted, and begun carrying out their plans.

The 2022-23 Local Climate Action Program includes 11 local government entities, representing 62 municipalities:

  • Bucks County (representing 54 municipalities)
  • City of Erie (Erie County)
  • City of Reading (Berks County)
  • City of Scranton (Lackawanna County)
  • Doylestown Borough (Bucks County)
  • Doylestown Township (Bucks County)
  • East Fallowfield Townships (Chester County)
  • Lower Merion Township (Montgomery County)
  • Lower Macungie Township (Lehigh County)
  • Uwchlan Township (Chester County)
  • Wormleysburg Borough (Cumberland County)

Adams was joined in the announcement at Redding Park in Wormleysburg Borough by Cumberland County Commissioner Jean Foschi and Wormleysburg Councilperson Margie Stuski.

The LCAP program enabled Cumberland County to work with esteemed higher education institutions to develop a practical, implementable plan that responds to the desires of our residents,” said Foschi. “The Shared Energy Manager component accelerated the county’s implementation of the climate change plan by investing in electric vehicles and solar energy for county buildings.” 

Cumberland County completed the program in 2020-21 and has begun implementing its climate change action plan.

“Wormleysburg is eagerly anticipating our strong partnership with the Local Climate Action Program. As a small borough, we appreciate the intern assistance and other resources that LCAP provides, which give us an advantage to talk with our residents in an informed manner,” Stuski said. “We look forward to working with our citizens on questions including, how does climate change impact our borough? How do we discuss it? What can we do about it?”

Now through May, the 2022-23 participants will be provided training, as well as help from college students, to measure local greenhouse gas emissions and develop plans to reduce emissions and lessen the risk of climate change impacts in their communities.

The Penn State Sustainability Institute and Department of Energy and Mineral Engineering are providing the training, along with 15 Penn State students to work with the municipalities.

Municipal–student teams perform inventories of greenhouse gas emissions from local buildings, transportation, waste management, and other sectors. They also identify the climate-related vulnerabilities in their communities, such as flooding from extreme rainfall events, public health impacts from extreme heat, and the ways that residents who live in environmental justice areas are disproportionately affected.

Pulling together this information, as well as recommendations in the Pennsylvania Climate Action Plan, each team develops actions for its community to mitigate emissions and adapt to potential impacts. Using a template, they draft local climate action plans. The teams present these plans to their communities for input from residents and approval by the local governing body.

Municipalities that complete their plan are eligible for additional free assistance to begin taking climate action.

Through DEP, they can enlist an engineering or energy services company to determine the most cost-effective first steps to emissions-reduction measures. Through the Governor’s Office of Performance through Excellence, municipalities can enlist the help of Capstone college interns with engineering, planning, policy, environmental studies, and sustainability backgrounds.