HARRISBURG – The Shapiro Administration’s steps to impose nearly $670 million in new energy taxes on consumers highlighted today’s public hearings on the proposed 2023-24 state budget.
Gov. Josh Shapiro has not moved to withdraw Pennsylvania from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), which will allow new taxes on energy producers to be passed on to families, schools, hospitals and job-creators.
Department of Environmental Protection
Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee Chair Gene Yaw (R-23) pressed acting Secretary Richard Negrin and DEP officials for details on how the multistate RGGI compact would be administered. As Pennsylvanians grapple with higher energy costs, Senate Republicans have sought all legislative and legal means to block this misguided energy tax proposal.
Committee members also highlighted DEP’s inefficient permitting process, which burdens new and expanding businesses and hampers job creation, and urged that Pennsylvania maintain diverse energy sources to ensure access to reliable power generation.
Senator Martin on the Clean Streams Fund, RGGI, PA’s Broken Permitting Process, and More
- DEP officials struggled to explain how the $670 million in RGGI carbon taxes would be collected, levied and returned to states. However, they acknowledged the administration is considering keeping Pennsylvania in RGGI and admitted that PA energy consumers could pay an overwhelming share of the costs.
- Permitting reform is a critical part of boosting Pennsylvania’s economic competitiveness. DEP outlined some of its plans to improve the permitting process to provide greater uniformity and eliminate unnecessary delays that have plagued the department and hindered job creation efforts.
- Grid reliability remains a serious concern for Pennsylvanians. DEP was urged to maintain a diverse mix of energy sources to prevent grid failure and blackouts in the future.
- Concerns were raised regarding the responsiveness of the Division of Dam Safety. DEP acknowledged the need to be more user-friendly in how they deal with the public.
- The department was encouraged to include more transparency in its brownfield remediation efforts and explore innovative new opportunities to clean up abandoned mines.
The auditor general is the chief fiscal watchdog of the commonwealth and is responsible for conducting audits to ensure state resources are being used appropriately. Auditor General Timothy DeFoor discussed the laws that govern his work and the type of audits his office performs.
He was questioned about the office’s audits on school district reserve funds, as well as the previous auditor general’s audit of Pennsylvania’s SURE voter registration system and the need to follow up on the findings.
- Additional funding provided to the Auditor General’s office in last year’s budget has helped to expand the office’s workforce development efforts internally.
- The closure of the Bureau of School Audits has allowed the Auditor General to redirect the office’s resources to other priorities, returning the responsibility for conducting those audits to the Department of Education.
- The Auditor General was urged to work cooperatively with fire and EMS organizations to complete audits of those entities in the least disruptive way possible.
You can find the hearings schedule, livestreams, daily recaps and video from prior hearings at PASenateGOP.com.
CONTACT: Jason Thompson