Today we feature Pennsylvania’s current Secretary of Planning and Policy, John Hanger. Secretary Hanger is a graduate from Duke University and the University Of Pennsylvania Law School and was formerly the Secretary of Environmental Protection of Pennsylvania from September 2008 through January 2011. He has an immense amount of passion and experience in environmental, energy, and green economy issues.
Q: When did your passion for protecting the environment begin?
A: Like many children, I liked animals. I was born in Kenya and so the natural environment and wildlife were very vivid. As I grew older, I realized the importance of clean air and water, both of which are vital to public health and a good quality of life. As the huge amounts of heat trapping gas goes into the atmosphere and changes the world’s climate, my concern for environmental issues continues to grow. Indeed, the last five years have been the warmest five-year period since modern temperature records started; 2014 was the warmest year; and now 2015 will smash the warmest year record again. The heat is on and increasing.
Q: How did you become involved in energy conservation and what advice do you have for people wanting to enter this industry?
A: After law school, I began developing a deeper interest in the environment and energy in my first law job in the Energy Project at Community Legal Services in Philadelphia. I got a lot of responsibility early, and it was sink or swim time. I worked hard to master information. Preparation is a key to success in any activity. Prepare well by improving writing skills and learning basic statistics. Meet people and show that you are passionate and well prepared.
Q: What environmental protection and energy conservation topics are most frequently brought up in government discussion?
A: Reducing air and water pollution as well as renewable energy and energy efficiency are among the most frequent topics. Addressing climate change is the most important environmental topic.
Q: What’s new in the energy conservation industry that’s exciting to you?
A: Better lighting technology, declining costs of energy storage, creation of better batteries. Better batteries and energy storage will allow renewable energy to provide power all day and all night. It will allow families and businesses to leave the electrical grid. Better batteries will also make electric vehicles more practical for transportation.
Q: If you could tell the world about only one way to conserve energy, what would it be?
A: Use the most fuel efficient means of transportation possible, whether it be walking, biking, public transit, or a high fuel efficiency private vehicle.
Q: How do you envision our world in 50 years?
A: If we address, and control, climate change, the temperatures will still go up about three to four degrees. If we don’t address climate change, the temperatures will be higher and produce devastating changes. The heat is on and increasing. We must all act now or our children and grandchildren will be far from happy with us.
Q: Any final thoughts on energy conservation?
A: Everyone can make a difference by using energy wisely and supporting renewable energy sources. And everyone should vote. Please also educate yourself about the positions of candidates on climate change and the environment.