Sierra Club

December 01, 2023 00:27:32
Sierra Club
Upper Merion Township Community Connections
Sierra Club

Dec 01 2023 | 00:27:32


Show Notes

Sierra Club
Chuck Kirlin sits down with Jim Wylie Chapter Vice Chair Sierra Club Pennsylvania and Julia Nakhleh Leadership Committee The Climate Reality Project: Philadelphia and Southeastern PA Chapter.

Sierra Club
Welcome to the Sierra Club’s Pennsylvania Chapter! We are the only member-led statewide environmental organization in Pennsylvania and we believe our open spaces, clean water, and natural resources should be protected so that current and future generations may enjoy them. In addition to our offices in Pittsburgh, Harrisburg, and Philadelphia, we have nine active regional groups all across the state that help us explore, enjoy, and protect our state's many environmental resources and fight for safe and livable communities. Explore our site to see recent action alerts, read the latest blogs, and learn how you can get involved.

The Climate Reality Project
At The Climate Reality Project, our global network of 3.5 million is working to build a just and sustainable true net zero future. We train and mobilize people worldwide with four global campaigns to accelerate climate action this decade and help us reach true net zero by 2050 – the point where global warming can stop in as little as three-to-five years and the Earth begins to heal.


COMMUNITY ADVOCATES FOR CLEAN ENERGY in the greater Philadelphia region

Working to maximize the impact of the Clean energy and climate funds in our communities. Our Mission, Engage with appropriate stakeholders to harness clean energy and sustainable community related funding at the state and local level, especially in communities most impacted by climate and environmental injustice.

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Episode Transcript

00;00;00;00 - 00;00;26;13 Unknown Hello and welcome to this edition of Community Connections. I am your host, Chuck Curl, and today we are with the Sierra Club of Pennsylvania. And from the Sierra Club is the chapter vice chair Jim Wiley, as well as Juliet Natalie. She is part of the leadership committee of the Climate Reality Project. Welcome to the program. Thank you. Good to be here. 00;00;26;15 - 00;00;55;29 Unknown Well, the first question off the bat is I'll throw it to both of you. The Sierra Club, what actually is it and how did it come about? So the Sierra Club's kind of mission is to explore, enjoy and protect the planet. And a big part of that increasingly over the last dozen years or so, has been to focus on action on climate change and yes, so that's what the Sierra Club's all about. 00;00;56;02 - 00;01;19;18 Unknown And I'm with the Climate Reality Project, which was founded by former Vice President Al Gore. And our mission is to educate the public about climate change, the science behind it, the effects of it, but most importantly, the solutions to it. So the big question is now, how did you wind up getting involved? Like what? What light bulb switch turned on, said, hey, this is something that I want to be a part of. 00;01;19;20 - 00;01;54;00 Unknown So I was fortunate enough to be able to leave the corporate world in 2008 and try to spend all of my time on solutions to climate change and walked around a little bit, got got some more education. And I found that the most rewarding, rewarding opportunity for me was being a volunteer leader with the with the Sierra Club, which by the way, had, you know, six or seven years ago had a big push to get municipalities to make pledges to go to 100% renewable energy. 00;01;54;00 - 00;02;22;16 Unknown And Upper Merion was definitely a leader in that respect in terms of setting goals for 100% renewable energy for community wide and and making a transition plan to get there. And did you follow the same path or did that come for me when COVID hit, some of my volunteer roles kind of went away. And so I did the they had a virtual Climate reality leaders leadership Training in July of 2020. 00;02;22;16 - 00;02;59;28 Unknown So I attended that. And then from there, then I got involved in our local chapter. Very nice. And the Sierra Club's been around for quite some time, I think started in 1892. Yes, I'm originally focused on land preservation in the Grand Canyon, Yosemite National Park. John Muir was the founder and and yeah, so but now all kinds of environmental protection initiatives, getting people outdoors to experience our natural resources and of course finding ways to protect it and make it better. 00;03;00;02 - 00;03;18;18 Unknown You made a good point. Trying to get people outdoors. I know since the pandemic, a lot of people just got used to staying in, not getting out and about. But are there any initiatives that the Sierra Club's trying to push to get people more motivated and getting outside and doing things? Sure. We have a big outdoors for all campaign. 00;03;18;18 - 00;03;51;03 Unknown We have organizers that that lead outings get inner city people outdoors and and across the state. Yeah. And there's actually a national program where you can take cruises and service projects to do cleanups and trail repairs and stuff like that. Do the Sierra Club, do they have like, like monthly, weekly, quarterly meetings? Like how would someone like be attracted to that that's watching this program that say, and this is something that I might benefit from it? 00;03;51;03 - 00;04;23;01 Unknown Like, where would you advise them to go to get their feet wet? Yeah, just, just type in to your browser, Sierra Club and whatever, and you'll get hints about that and what's happening. And we have calendars on all of our websites to Yeah. To point people to upcoming upcoming events and outings. Yeah. And we have a lot of educational programs that are done online webinars and recordings that are a growing list. 00;04;23;04 - 00;05;11;20 Unknown Is that now something that the two you work together in terms of the educational programs like who coordinates all that And it does it get dispersed throughout the the area, especially in Upper Merion Township. So let me let me set up on how Julia and I got together. She's in the Climate Reality Project, Al Gore's thing, right? So our area of commonality has been action on climate and promoting information about the federal government's programs, the inflation Reduction Act and the bipartisan infrastructure law, which provides all kinds of incentives for, you know, transitioning to electrifying our homes and incentivizing us to get clean energy. 00;05;11;22 - 00;05;41;08 Unknown So we've started a new thing, a new project called the Community Advocates for Clean Energy in the Greater Philadelphia area. You add to that? Yes. Well, so the Sierra Club has a big push to get to match stakeholders with with grants that they're eligible for. And the Climate Reality Project has has been educating the public about the individual incentives like the tax credits and the rebates. 00;05;41;10 - 00;06;20;02 Unknown So together we can really amplify this work by educating the public about what the grants and the individual incentives that are available. Now, George, you get involved with the grants because I know grant proposals are not an easy thing to navigate through. They are not. And so so I've I've, I've been focusing on the individual incentives and that aspect of it, whereas some other volunteers are really honing in on the gaps because there's a lot in both both the grants and the individual incentives that, you know, that both gets very complicated. 00;06;20;04 - 00;06;41;00 Unknown So we're trying to like divide and conquer to get the get the word out. Yeah. Speaking of dividing and conquer, I didn't ask This is are there a number of volunteers or personnel that are involved in this project? We have more than 50 volunteers working together right now just in the Greater Philadelphia area. And we haven't really done our big outreach yet. 00;06;41;00 - 00;07;04;09 Unknown We've been trying to build our website, build material. We have a base to to start from. But, you know, depending on when you're watching this, we're going to have more and more, more volunteers and different organizational partners. I think we'll have more people connecting to this repository of resources. Yeah, and since the word's out, are you getting any of the corporations trying to get involved with this? 00;07;04;09 - 00;07;28;08 Unknown Because I know that's a big thing. A lot of corporate companies now are liking it. Go Green, I guess is a good way of putting it. Are you seeing more of that now as well? So the way we're structuring our project is with stakeholder outreach and holding workshops. So if you go to our website, you'll see what workshops we have planned both in person and online. 00;07;28;11 - 00;08;05;08 Unknown And yeah, we're going to be looking for partners to help promote these workshops and benefit from the workshops. Some of the grants are can be taken advantage of by corporations, nonprofit groups, water treatment plants and stuff like that. We can talk about that. Yeah, it speaking of that, do you have like individual people assigned to each thing? Like, I know one might be electrics or solar or I should say one could be, you know, renewable energy is is there a different head for each category in the Sierra Club? 00;08;05;10 - 00;08;42;12 Unknown So in this Community Advocates project, we have what we're calling Pride program experts. So yeah, I picked one the the federal grant programs have more than 400 projects per 100 programs. So we're you know, we're taking our volunteers. Which ones are you interested in? And so far we've processed maybe a dozen to say, Yeah, we've dug into it, we've translated the grants, speak to humans, speak and tried to figure out, yeah, so we have what you said. 00;08;42;12 - 00;09;10;27 Unknown We have a person assigned to each program and I've been focusing on the individual incentives and then something like with the, the tax credit. So if you're a nonprofit, you don't pay taxes. How do you take advantage of that? Well, under the Inflation Reduction Act, they have this new system called direct pay. So so I took that portion and I said, okay, let's give that to someone else to really dig deep into that and to understand how nonprofits can take advantage of that. 00;09;10;29 - 00;09;15;01 Unknown Well, I know tax credits are big buzzwords, so that's something I'd like to ask more about. 00;09;15;01 - 00;09;29;08 Unknown And we talked a lot about the foundation of the Sierra Club and the Climate Reality Project. But one thing, Jim, I would like to ask to start the segment was give us an idea of like what the government programs are that you're dealing with. 00;09;29;11 - 00;09;58;21 Unknown I guess that's something that's pretty important to share. Yeah, and that's at the core of what this Community Advocates project is all about, and that is sharing the whole bunch of incentive money that's available from the Inflation Reduction Act passed in 2022 and the bipartisan infrastructure law in 2021 and totaling I have this number here, like $1.8 trillion of taxpayer money is going to this. 00;09;58;23 - 00;10;36;20 Unknown But that's that's a down payment on on avoiding future costs. Right. So it's just been estimated that will we'll be able to avoid are more than $1,000,000,000,000 of costs by heading off you know, climate impacts, storms and stuff like that in the future at least doing our part to do that. And these bills, two bills taken together are projected to cut our our our greenhouse gas emissions footprint by 34, 35 to 40% by the year 2030. 00;10;36;27 - 00;10;56;19 Unknown And that goal is a good way to getting to our our Paris Agreement commitments. Wow. And that that's going to be a big factor because that's something I'm sure that you're always keeping an eye on. They want to get to that level because it's making everything worthwhile for what you're doing for the sake of the planet. Yeah, that's exactly right. 00;10;56;21 - 00;11;14;22 Unknown Well, I know one thing I mentioned in our first segment, and you hit a big buzz word that I think our audience would love to hear you mention tax credits. Can you share a little bit of the background on what credits are coming and what you would, I guess, your preference and what you see, how this is all being put together? 00;11;14;24 - 00;11;43;00 Unknown Sure. Well, first, let me talk about some of the motivations behind why they have these tax credits. So there's a movement called the Electrify Everything movement, and that is I see it as two converging paths. So you have the government encouraging people to move to electric appliances and electric vehicles at the same time, as you're putting more and more renewables onto the power grid. 00;11;43;00 - 00;12;16;18 Unknown So as you as you're cleaning up the grid and people are moving away from fossil fuels and to electric appliances, and so you have these two converging paths that will bring us a long way towards moving away from fossil fuels. So the tax credits that you were asking about, those are part of the Inflation Reduction Act. And so at the there's there's we have here the tax credits for solar heat pumps, things like that. 00;12;16;20 - 00;12;55;28 Unknown So for the tax credits, you get 30% off for the the top part that's in white there that's uncapped. So it's 30% off no matter how much the project costs got. So the ones in green, which is the air source heat pumps, the heat pump water heaters that has a combined max of 1200 dollars. And then the tax credits in blue, that's covers things like, you know, weatherization types of things, insulation, windows, doors and even getting a, you know, home energy audit that has a cap of 1200 dollars. 00;12;56;01 - 00;13;20;07 Unknown And then at the bottom, we talk about the electric vehicles. So for the electric vehicles, those there are income limits on electric vehicles and there's also restrictions on the type of vehicles that qualify. They need to be made in North America. And there's some, you know, battery component restrictions as well, which you can go to fuel economy dot gov to find out whether a vehicle qualifies or not. 00;13;20;09 - 00;13;42;16 Unknown And they have tax credits for both new and used vehicles. Question Not that you have a crystal ball, but you may be thinking something with the electric vehicles. When do you think when in your mind do you think that will will go all electric, especially here in the United States with vehicles could you could see the trends definitely getting there. 00;13;42;16 - 00;14;07;20 Unknown And I know you're more you have your nose to the grindstone, as they say, more to it than I do. I'm just curious on your perspective. I think it will take a while because, you know, people like their cars and they can keep them around for a while. But I think we're going to see more and more of a movement towards that, especially now that we're getting to the point where you're getting more and more electric vehicles in the used market. 00;14;07;23 - 00;14;28;26 Unknown So that opens it up to a lot more people. And then, of course, these incentives also helps, you know, and that, you know, some of the advantage of the advantages of electric vehicles is there's a lot less maintenance. You know, for most people they're charging at home. So it's great to, you know, wake up in the morning to, you know, to have your car charged up and ready to go. 00;14;28;29 - 00;14;49;09 Unknown And they're building more and more EV charging stations out there, which makes, you know, when you're doing road trips, it's going to make it a lot easier. Yeah, that was the one thing that would scare me is if you're on a road trip and you're going cross-country and you're saying that, my, like my fuel is starting to drop, you can't put a solar panel on the roof. 00;14;49;09 - 00;15;14;05 Unknown What do you do? You know? Yeah, well, there's they're getting more and more charging stations. You have apps that you can use and then I can see some vehicles that does the mapping right there for you and the vehicle to tell you where you know, when you need to charge where the next charging station is. So that's yeah, it's not as scary as it sounds, right, because it's there for you and and you'll know ahead of time. 00;15;14;05 - 00;15;33;26 Unknown Okay. Well, and you know, in an hour I'm going to need to stop at this charging station. And hey, look, there's a restaurant right there. We can grab a bite to eat. That's nice. Very nice. Well, when you were going over the tax credits, one thing that jumped out at me and I hope you know this because I've never heard of a biomass stove, Can you explain what that might be? 00;15;33;27 - 00;15;52;05 Unknown I do not know too much about biomass stoves. okay. It's a wood stove. I would say that. What that is. Okay, so it's just a fancy name. Fancy name for wood pellets. Yeah. okay. Yeah. So I've never seen that. I've never heard of it. So I'm glad somebody knew what it was. I'm looking at all these things with the fuel cell, solar panels. 00;15;52;05 - 00;16;09;20 Unknown We're. Well aware of that. And I know even with the electric car batteries now you're able to carry a spare. Isn't that you're able to swap it out? I think especially with the the newer models, a whole battery can be swapped out. So if you didn't have time to get it recharged, they could replace the battery. Is that correct? 00;16;09;23 - 00;16;35;07 Unknown I don't know of many models that can do that. I know that was something that was looked at a while ago. But the problem with that is that each car manufacturer has their own proprietary battery. So that makes it difficult. And for, you know, for stability reasons, weight reasons, usually they're like in the, you know, the bottom of the car and not as accessible. 00;16;35;10 - 00;17;03;13 Unknown That makes sense. I think the good news is that the charging plug. Yes. Is being universal is becoming that the the automakers are converging on a single plug style because we had three competing for a while there. And another thing that I heard, too, and I and correct me if I'm wrong, the solar panels, now they're starting to add the government giving incentives when they build these new homes with solar panels. 00;17;03;13 - 00;17;25;21 Unknown There's something that's involved in that. So like, for instance, if you were buying a new home or having a 55 and over home built and they come equipped with solar panels, there's some type of some type of incentive with that. I was reading recently about that. So in Pennsylvania, I don't believe there's anything at the state level, but some communities are considering solar ready ordinances. 00;17;25;21 - 00;18;02;22 Unknown So new construction, solar ready and EV ready so that when you build it, you have kind of the infrastructure already in place that makes it much cheaper and much easier to add solar or add charging. So that's that's probably what you're exactly right. I can tell you from experience that, yes, having the House set up ahead of time because I was the one that took the the the cable crawling through our basement ceiling to run the the cable to our garage for our EV charger because, you know, the electrical contractor wanted to just, you know, cut through our drywall ceiling and everything. 00;18;02;22 - 00;18;12;04 Unknown I was like, no, no, no, I'll just I'll just do it myself. Yes. boy. Yes. The the trials and tribulations of trying to do the right thing. Right, Right. That's it. 00;18;12;04 - 00;18;25;26 Unknown One thing that we were discussing with Jim and Julia was the tax credit, and that was a big deal. And I think that it's important that we should just reiterate. And could you just give us your expertise on how people should navigate through this? 00;18;25;28 - 00;19;04;28 Unknown Sure. Well, my goal is to make people aware of the tax credits that are available. I'm not a tax professional or anything like that. And it's also important to note that there are efficiency requirements with these tax credits, which you can find on Energy Star dot gov. So, you know, not just any door would satisfy the requirements for the for the to get the tax credit it has to have a certain efficiency you know same with all the other products so it's important to do your research you know consult a tax professional to make sure that your project does qualify before you start to to put money in it so that you know upfront what 00;19;04;28 - 00;19;29;16 Unknown does and does not qualify. So to just refresh the the stuff at the top of the white, that's uncapped tax credit, you can take as much as you want the stuff in the green. So that has a combined cap of $20. And then in blue the combined cap is 1200 dollars. And then electric vehicles, those tax credits, they're they're kind of their own beast. 00;19;29;16 - 00;19;56;14 Unknown So that's good to get. You can go to the IRS website and find out more about that. And we have all this information on our website, c, C, a, c, e, So someone that's thinking about doing a home remodeling project, they should consult with professional I that's what I'm getting from all this because are they up to date, especially I know a tax professional will know, but how about the people that you're hiring? 00;19;56;14 - 00;20;23;14 Unknown The contractor? Yes, the contractor. Well, that's another area in which we want to educate people to make sure contracts contractors know what's what. So then they can they can help their clients understand where they they can get the money from because like me, I'm just an individual making a decision about my own house. But a contractor, they work with with many, many people and, you know, people trust their contractors. 00;20;23;17 - 00;20;48;26 Unknown They listen to what they have to say. So it's important that contractors have this information as well. Perfect. Now, that's good. So let's switch gears real quick, because I know you're the grand expert here. Can you share any more information on some of the grants that are are working their way, especially through this community? Yes. So there are more than 400 grant programs in the IRA and Bill AX. 00;20;48;28 - 00;21;24;01 Unknown And we have as I mentioned, we have people digging into them in the fall show and tell here to show some of them I wanted to mention, like the emerging contaminants Grant program, which focuses on getting P fast and led out of our our water streams are the greenhouse gas reduction fund solar for all as this one making our low income and challenge communities more more of them ready for on site solar. 00;21;24;03 - 00;22;00;20 Unknown The Environmental and Climate justice program which benefits community based nonprofits and then the Carbon Pollution Reduction Program, which is focused on reducing greenhouse gas emissions from our vehicles. So go to our website at KC and learn about the latest information and get more, more resources. Speaking of that, you made a good point. With the low income or the the disadvantaged, how are you able to get the word out to that group? 00;22;00;22 - 00;22;34;16 Unknown Because they seem to be a group that could really benefit from this? That's a good question and a really important one. So we are building lists of stakeholder groups and a stakeholder group is housing community or in a community or a renter community. We are partnering with other organizations, housing organizations. We're partnering with other environmental organizations that are working in this space. 00;22;34;18 - 00;23;04;23 Unknown And I'll also say that we are welcome, we welcome input from everybody that is listening to this. Everybody that is reaches our website. You have a suggestion, Hey, we are building stakeholder workshops both in-person and online, and we'd love to come to your event and speak. We'd love to be able to invite you to our online or in-person events to learn about these programs. 00;23;04;25 - 00;23;38;05 Unknown Yeah. Or does the Sierra Club do any type of promotion? I guess like in the malls or in the shopping centers, schools. So they can get the word out? Like where where would you see information about the Sierra Club? We have tabling events, certainly every Earth Day event you go to. I hope you'll see a Sierra Club or Climate Reality project table certainly are green fests and community days that that municipalities host. 00;23;38;07 - 00;24;07;10 Unknown We table their farm markets. We table their yeah that's pretty good. Well I could see like the Sierra Club seems to always be looking ahead. What are some of the future goals that the Sierra Club has. Sure So we want to expand our are volunteers and if you're interested in working on this, you know contact us, go to CAC and click the Contact US button. 00;24;07;10 - 00;24;40;23 Unknown And we'd love to expand our our, our volunteer of this. You want to add to that? sure. And for the Climate Reality Project, we at Climate Reality Philly CPA dot org we have we have a contact us place as well where you can sign up to volunteer and Julia I think I should make note of this. This is a good point that the Climate Reality Project is a big yes, it's an international organization. 00;24;40;23 - 00;25;03;08 Unknown And so we have branches all over the world and in all of the states and the United States. And we have our local chapter here, which is, you know, where I volunteer with our local chapter, which covers, you know, Philadelphia, southeastern Pennsylvania. And we also have, you know, members who are in New Jersey and Delaware. Yeah, I wanted to add one more thing. 00;25;03;08 - 00;25;38;24 Unknown You asked about what our kind of future goals are. And one thing is many of these grants are right. Are written in complicated grants speak, and many stakeholder groups don't have educated grant writers. They are, you know, staff that are educated how to do these things. So we're hoping to build that resource, have volunteers that are experienced in doing grant research and grant writing and be able to help those stakeholder groups fill out the applications and and get what they get. 00;25;38;24 - 00;26;04;23 Unknown What can be real action on making climate a thing of the past. Climate change a thing of the past. Yeah, because grant writing is is a is an art. And nowadays if you have someone that can knows how to write a good grant, it could go a long way. So I guess that's valuable information to get or, or training. 00;26;04;23 - 00;26;26;11 Unknown So if you're able to have someone that has that talent, that's a huge advantage, especially for the Sierra Club. It is. We're hoping to build that resource and hopefully by the time you're listening to this, we all will have an army of grant writers at our disposal. So as we wind down the program, someone goes on the Sierra Club website, what would they find? 00;26;26;13 - 00;27;09;19 Unknown Yeah, so you'll find all the stuff that we talked about today. You'll find links to the incentives for individuals to find links to the grant programs, and it's also organized by stakeholders. Where do you fit in? Right. This is this is what I am here. The opportunities for you to electrify your home, electrify your vehicle and reduce your carbon footprint, as well as just improving your improving the community you live in and improving the quality of life through removing contaminants from your water supply and improving the air that we breathe. 00;27;09;22 - 00;27;31;29 Unknown Fantastic. Yeah, I know we had a lot of information thrown away and we probably still have more to talk about, but unfortunately our program is winding to an end. But I'd like to thank Jim and Julia for our guest here today on Community Connections. Thank you. So from all of us here at UMG TV, I'm Chuck Kurland. Thank you for watching.

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