CP photo: Ryan Deto
U.S. Rep. Mike Doyle
(D-Forest Hills) hosted a town hall Wednesday evening amid an ongoing debate in the Democratic Party over the best way to combat climate change. Several hundred people came to the town hall at Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Hall in Oakland to hear Doyle and a group of panelists speak and answer questions on climate change.
The first panel, focused on “moving toward a greener economy,” included experts on technology and transportation. The second was made up of advocates and officials who spoke on state and local action.
Doyle’s event drew advance criticism from some activists
who said the selected panels did not include experts who could speak specifically about the Green New Deal or about fracking
, two topics critics said were vital to a discussion of climate change.
When Doyle did mention the Green New Deal at the town hall, it was only briefly. Speaking about Congress' options for addressing climate change, Doyle said that a policy that addressed climate change would need to include some elements of the Green New Deal
One member of the crowd yelled, “Then support it,” and others joined in, demanding Doyle join the 94 House Democrats who have signed on as sponsors of the bill. Doyle pushed on, however, and the moment passed quickly.
Doyle also praised the Climate Action Now Act, the climate bill that the House passed in May that would require the U.S. to follow the terms of the Paris Agreement despite Trump withdrawing
the U.S. from the climate agreement in 2017. He also cited a bill incentivizing energy storage technology, which he introduced earlier this year, as evidence of his climate change efforts.
Electric vehicles were an extended topic of discussion. Keith Johnson, the co-director of the Center for Sustainable Transportation at the University of Pittsburgh, said places with a high number of electric vehicles implement cash incentives for owning the fuel-free vehicles. They also have a high number of charging stations, decreasing drivers’ anxiety about running out of power with no way to recharge.
Millvale sustainability coordinator Zaheen Hussain, who sat on the second panel, said he witnessed the way community members and leaders could come together to address climate change — although it only occurred after Millvale experienced firsthand the floods
that ravaged the community.
“The shared pain that community members felt, the shared trauma, they saw that sustainability and sustainable practices were a way to move forward,” Hussein said.
Panelists spent most of the event giving prepared statements and responding to questions posed by moderators, but audience members were permitted to ask questions for a short period at the end of the night. Most addressed Doyle, emphasizing their concerns about state and local issues, including air pollution from U.S. Steel and the impending shutdown of the Three Mile Island nuclear plant.
Doyle said he shares these concerns and will take them into consideration as he continues to fight climate change. He also emphasized the importance of flipping the Senate and the White House in 2019 in order to ensure Democrats can take action on climate change.
“If the U.S. doesn’t lead, no other country is going to follow,” Doyle said. “We need to be the leaders.”