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New plan will address the impact of climate change in Scranton

Tackling the impacts of climate change in Scranton is part of creating a future for the city.

“This isn't planning just for the next five or 10 years, this is planning that needs to happen for the decades down the line," said Scranton Mayor Paige Gebhardt Cognetti.

Developing a Climate Action Plan for the Electric City is one of three forward-looking plans. In August, the city released an Economic Development Plan, which will serve as Scranton’s roadmap for the next 10 years. The city is also working on an equity plan.

“In order for us to be successful with development, and bringing good paying jobs here, bringing families here, we need to be able to show them that we're thinking long term," the mayor said.

The city partnered with the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection and Penn State University to sponsor two student interns this semester. They will lay the groundwork for the Climate Action Plan. The students will complete a Greenhouse Gas inventory, which will look at all the emissions in the city to assess what areas need the most improvement, said Cognetti.

Scranton also received a Sustainable Pennsylvania Community Silver Certification for its work already completed to combat climate change. The certification program is a project of the Pennsylvania Municipal League and resources from the organization will help develop the climate action plan.

The Local Policy Lab also chose Scranton as one of four cities nationwide as a member of its Climate Action Program Resiliency Cohort.

“We need to be thinking big thinking of the future and taking the best practices from from all across the nation all across the world and applying them here," said Cognetti.

With an uptick in more sizable storms, the city is going to focus on stormwater and flooding in the city as a member of the cohort, she said.

“We need to make sure that our stormwater infrastructure is not just repaired, but as rebuilt ... to sustain for these larger storms," she said.

While Cognetti says the plan is focused on the city, she hopes to partner regionally

"The climate does not stop in our city borders, so we certainly will hope and welcome and push for more work along regional lines," she said.

The city is planning public outreach while developing the Climate Action Plan. They will hold roundtable discussions and public hearings to engage residents.

Kat Bolus is the community reporter for the newly-formed WVIA News Team. She is a former reporter and columnist at The Times-Tribune, a Scrantonian and cat mom.