Peduto, senator hold green economy panel

Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto and U.S. Sen. jeff merkley, D-Ore., held a panel to discuss environmental issues and green energy Friday in the Pittsburgh City Council Chambers.

Merkley, was in town to meet with U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa.. The meeting was meant as an open forum about a green economy.

“The economy is not at war with the environment,” Merkley said.

Merkley and Peduto described a vision of an economy based on green construction and renovations to promote energy and heating efficiency, and green manufacturing of renewable technologies, for growth and against climate change

“The future is going to be in wind turbines. The question is whether they will be built with German steel, Chinese steel or American steel,” Peduto said.

Merkley touted his push for green construction loans as an example of overall smart economic policy. He pointed to the cost savings from lower electric bills and the construction jobs that couldn’t be outsourced.

As the panel turned to questions from the assembled activists, representing Sustainable Pittsburgh, Women for a Healthy Environment and the Sierra Club among others, the topic shifted to opposition to fossil fuels.

While some activists made clear their desire to halt all gas development, Peduto reminded the room of the opportunity that the Royal Shell Cracker poised for communities like Beaver County, even if he worried about the eventual impact of continued carbon emissions.

“The petrochemical plant is their only hope,” Peduto said. “They weren’t given another opportunity for something else…that is where the jobs will come back. We have to give them a different hope.”