The Senate today (September 9) approved — and sent to the Governor’s desk — legislation that would increase legislative oversight on the proposal to have Pennsylvania join the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), according to Senator Joe Pittman, who spearheaded efforts in the Senate to move the bill.
The Senate approved House Bill 2025, introduced by Representative Jim Struzzi, by a bipartisan 33-17 vote, including five Democrats – Senators Jim Brewster, Wayne Fontana, Pam Iovino, Tina Tartaglione and Lindsey Williams, according to Senator Pittman, the prime sponsor of the companion bill (Senate Bill 950) in the Senate.
House Bill 2025 creates the Pennsylvania Carbon Dioxide Cap and Trade Authorization Act; clarifies that the Administration does not have the authority to unilaterally join RGGI; and, prohibits the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) from joining RGGI without Legislative approval.
“The Senate acted in a bipartisan manner to move it to his desk, so it’s now up to the Governor to follow up on his previous statements about wanting to work in a collaborative effort,” said Senator Pittman. “It would be a massive understatement to say this is an important issue. This is an issue that directly impacts the lives and livelihoods of thousands of Pennsylvania families. Entering RGGI is a decision of enormous consequence to every Pennsylvanian. RGGI paves the way for a tax to be placed on the emissions of carbon – the very gas we all exhale – from electric generation plants here in the Commonwealth.”
On October 3, Governor Wolf directed the DEP to join RGGI — a collaboration of nine Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states. The states (Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island, and Vermont) set a cap on total Carbon Dioxide (CO2) emissions from electric power generators in their states. In order to comply, power plants must purchase a credit or “allowance” for each ton of CO2 they emit.
If Pennsylvania joins RGGI, it would be the only major energy producing state in the compact and the resulting carbon tax on employers engaged in electric generation would devastate that industry and cost thousands of jobs.
House Bill 2025 establishes a series of steps that the DEP would be required to follow to ensure the public is informed and involved before it could submit a RGGI proposal to the General Assembly for consideration.
Initially, the DEP would be required to publish its RGGI legislation in the PA Bulletin and provide a public comment period of at least 180-days. During the comment period, DEP would be required to hold a minimum of four public hearings in locations that would be directly affected economically by the proposal.
Following the public comment period, DEP would be required to submit a report to the House and Senate Environmental Resources & Energy Committees detailing the specific economic and environmental impacts that joining RGGI would have on impacted communities, the Commonwealth, and the PJM Interconnection region.
“This process will ensure that the voices of citizens, especially those who would be impacted by RGGI, are heard before a final decision is made,” Senator Pittman said. “This legislation does not ban the state from joining RGGI, but rather ensures that the process is open and involves the people of Pennsylvania as well as their elected officials in the General Assembly.”
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