University Park, Pa- Thursday, Auditor General Eugene DePasquale held the first public hearing on Pennsylvania’s response to climate change.

He’s gathering input to include in a new report. DePasquale says climate change is not longer a debate, and PA needs to understand that it’s happening.

WTAJ was at Thursday’s hearing which included a panel of local scientists and govermental officials. Each said that climate change does not only impact the environment, but also community safety.

“The goal here is to establish that climate change is a grave threat right now to the state of Pennsylvania and we need to take action,” said Dr. Michael Mann, Distinguished Professor of Atmospheric Science, at Penn State.

Dr. Mann believes national leadership is lacking on this issue, and Auditor General DePasquale’s hearings could bring about change at the state level.

“The auditor general is an honest broker who can assess whether or not the state is really doing everything it should be doing to represent the interests of it’s people,” said Dr. Mann.

DePasquale says the effects of climate change can have a far-reaching economic impact, which is a concern of his office.

He specifically referenced how many believe climate change is causing more extreme weather systems across the world, and how this weather impacts PA’s economy.

“Every time these significant storms happen, and if we don’t address it, there’s an economic impact to the state. Whether it’s flooding in our communities, roadways, mudslides, those items all have an economic impact to our state. The longer we take to address this, the worse the economic impact’s gonna be,” DePasquale said.

The comments from Thursday’s hearing won’t cause immediate action, but could find their way into DePasquale’s final report.

“This is more about listening today, hearing from the experts. We’re gonna do more of this across the state and then put together an action plan,” Depasquale said.

He told WTAJ after the hearing that a main issue highlighted by local government officials and farmers, was providing economic incentives for those who embrace “greener initiatives”.