HARRISBURG – In an ongoing effort to protect Pennsylvanians against higher energy bills and job losses in the energy industry, Senate Republican leaders filed a request with the Commonwealth Court today to intervene in a lawsuit the Wolf Administration filed to force Pennsylvania into the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI).
RGGI is a multi-state compact that would enact a carbon tax on energy producers. The plan is projected to increase electricity rates for consumers, cut energy and manufacturing jobs and lead to the closure of Pennsylvania power plants. One estimate found the proposal could result in 22,000 lost jobs and a total loss to the economy as high as $7.7 billion a year.
Governor Wolf’s effort to enter the compact by Executive Order through regulation bypassed the normal legislative process. Pennsylvania is the only state to attempt to enter RGGI without legislative approval.
In response to the Administration’s attempt to usurp the General Assembly’s authority to approve or disapprove any tax increase on Pennsylvania families and employers, both the Senate and the House of Representatives approved a resolution disapproving Pennsylvania’s participation in RGGI.
Governor Wolf vetoed this resolution on January 10. The Senate has 10 legislative days or 30 calendar days – whichever is longer – to vote to override the governor’s veto.
Although the Senate still has ample time to bring the veto override up for a vote, Governor Wolf’s Department of Environmental Protection recently sued the Legislative Reference Bureau and the Pennsylvania Code and Bulletin to force them to publish his RGGI regulation in the Pennsylvania Bulletin immediately.
If successful, the Wolf Administration’s lawsuit would allow the regulation to take immediate effect and prevent the General Assembly from having an opportunity to consider whether to override Governor Wolf’s veto.
The request by Senate President Pro Tempore Jake Corman (R-Bellefonte), Senate Majority Leader Kim Ward (R-Westmoreland), Senate Appropriations Committee Chair Pat Browne (R-Lehigh) and Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee Chair Gene Yaw (R-Lycoming) today seeks to prevent the Wolf Administration from bypassing the legislative process a second time after the initial refusal to allow the General Assembly to vote on Pennsylvania’s entrance into RGGI.
The lawmakers issued the following statement today:
“It is deeply disturbing that the Wolf Administration continues to ignore the will of the people and is actively working to raise energy taxes and costs on Pennsylvania families and employers. There are clear rules in place to prevent any branch of government from trampling the rights of Pennsylvanians and the authority of the other branches of government. Governor Wolf should not be permitted to ignore those rules just because he thinks those checks and balances are inconvenient to his liberal, anti-energy agenda.
“Pennsylvanians deserve to know the truth – any person in this state who pays an energy bill will pay significantly more under RGGI, and thousands of state residents would lose their job if this policy were enacted. We must do everything in our power to prevent that from happening.
“It creates a very slippery slope when the Executive Branch tries to create a new tax on Pennsylvania employers without the consent of the General Assembly. We will continue fighting to preserve the General Assembly’s authority to legislate and protect consumers against the painful consequences of the Wolf Administration’s deeply flawed ideology.”