A broad clean energy coalition has urged Pennsylvanians to speak out for clean energy and health protections in upcoming statewide public “listening sessions,” which will help shape a state plan to cut climate change.

Leaders of the Clean Power PA coalition, which includes faith, environmental, religious, business and civil rights organisations, discussed the huge stake the state has in drafting a strong state plan in a telephone press conference, held the day before the first public hearing in Harrisburg.

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection is holding 14 listening sessions across the state – likely the earliest and most extensive state-level public feedback process in the nation. The listening sessions will help Governor Tom Wolf develop Pennsylvania’s plan to meet the carbon pollution limits under the Clean Power Plan, which the US Environmental Protection Agency finalised on August 3rd.

“An overwhelming majority of Pennsylvanians, 82%, want cleaner air and see the Clean Power Plan as a way to make that happen,” said Mark Szybist, senior program advocate for Energy and Transportation at the Natural Resources Defence Council, and a Williamsport native. “These listening sessions that the state has set up are a perfect opportunity for Pennsylvanians to share their views on the best way to reduce carbon pollution and meet its goals under the plan.”

“These listening sessions provide an opportunity for Pennsylvanians from all walks of life, from all sectors, to have a say in how we go about implementing the Clean Power Plan,” said Matt Elliott, senior policy associate at the Keystone Energy Efficiency Alliance. “Ramping up energy efficiency measures is one key way to do that. It’s good for business, for the state and to help residents save while also meeting the reasonable goals of the Clean Power Plan.”

“The Clean Power Plan is an economic opportunity for Pennsylvania that allows us to ensure a healthier, cleaner future for the next generation,” said Joe Minott, executive director of the Philadelphia-based Clean Air Council. “The state has already made enormous strides in reducing carbon pollution. The Clean Power Plan provides the kick in the pants needed to take us that much further.”