Pittsburgh inspires National Wildlife Federation
Larry Schweiger remembers Pittsburgh of the 1950s -- streetlights on during the day, soot and other pollutants covering everything. It's a scene many outsiders still associate with the city.
This weekend, Schweiger, CEO of the National Wildlife Federation, comes home and will show attendees at the Reston, Va.-based group's 73rd annual meeting that Pittsburgh turned itself around. He believes America can do the same, using alternative energy sources and addressing global warming.
"Pittsburgh didn't leave itself trapped in the past; it reinvented itself, took a new way forward, and today is a vibrant city and more secure since it's not dependent solely on steel," Schweiger said during a Thursday interview. "It's a great symbol of what we can do with this nation."
Before becoming head of the National Wildlife Federation in 2004, he served for eight years as CEO of the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy.
Government leaders need a vision of what can be done to reduce pollution, as Pittsburgh's leaders did years ago, Schweiger believes.
"I'd love to see a maglev (magnetic levitation) train run from Pittsburgh to Washington, or to Philadelphia or to Baltimore, to show that it can be done," Schweiger said. "We can run a maglev train on wind power, or solar or geothermal, but if we run it on fossil fuels it doesn't prove anything."
Schweiger, who still maintains a home in McCandless, and the National Wildlife Federation has set as a priority getting legislation enacted to place mandatory caps on carbon emissions.
The so-called cap-and-trade system is as part of the American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009, known as the Waxman-Markey Bill.
Under a cap-and-trade system, an upper limit is placed on the amount of emissions allowed, a limit that reduces over time. To stay under the cap, companies can bury carbon dioxide, change the fuel burned, purchase allowances, trade with a lower pollution emitter to get more allowances, or make a deal with farmers or forest owners to sequester the carbon dioxide on their land.
"I worked many years ago with Sen. John Heinz on the first use of cap-and-trade, used to lower sulphur dioxide emissions," Schweiger said. "It cut emissions by 50 percent, at 1⁄10th the cost that experts projected it would cost. A cap-and-trade model for carbon emissions would set specific caps, limits, and encourage investment."
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.