With the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic preventing Pennsylvanians from safely meeting with their elected representatives in person, PennEnvironment brought legislators to Pennsylvanians online Tuesday for what may have been the largest online lobby day in state history.
“While the COVID crisis is paramount right now, the climate crisis has not gone away. Pennsylvanians know that and don’t want to sit idly by,” said Kelly Flanigan, PennEnvironment’s Global Warming Solutions Campaign associate.
“We have an opportunity to make sure that as our state re-opens, we put a plan in place to build a stronger, more sustainable state. To do that, we need to make sure that state lawmakers continue to hear the best ideas from the public.”
Hundreds of civically engaged and socially distancing Pennsylvanians took part in PennEnvironment’s virtual lobby day. The daunting technological undertaking allowed more than 100 legislators to meet with their constituents in online chat rooms over nine hours.
Five members of the Pennsylvania General Assembly, including state Reps. Wendy Ullman of Bucks County and Jennifer O’Mara of Delaware County, joined the mid-day virtual rally.
“The world’s scientific community has spoken,” said Ullman. “Climate change is real, and every year we are closer to the tipping point. It is imperative that Pennsylvania accelerate its transition to clean, renewable energy.”
O’Mara gave specifics on how climate change is affecting her district: “Extreme rainfall and heat are just two [impacts] that Delco residents have experienced, and if left unchecked, these problems will only grow and jeopardize the vitality of Pennsylvania’s ecosystems and our access to clean air and water.”
With so many parents at home with their children during the pandemic, PennEnvironment made the event fun for all ages, hosting educational webinars, a virtual green home tour, presentations on residential solar options in Pennsylvania, and a virtual rally at lunch time.
Among those testifying was Zada Michel, age 8, with Kids Clean Air Force, who said, “In 2050, I will be 39 years old. What will my life, and my friends’ lives, look like then if we don’t work hard right now to stop burning fossil fuels and cut down on all air pollution? I think about this every day, and I’m just a kid. We need grown ups to do their part and help protect our planet.”
Recordings of the rally are on facebook.com/pennenvironment.