PA must also join RGGI
Pennsylvania is in the process of joining 11 other states in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI). RGGI is a market-driven, cap-and-invest program to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from power plants and use the money generated to reduce air pollution, improve energy efficiency, provide for fossil fuel worker transitions, and work toward environmental justice.
RGGI’s evidence-based model reduces CO2 pollution emissions
Here's how RGGI works: fossil-fuel-based power plants purchase allowances for every short ton of carbon dioxide they will produce, and they can trade these allowances if they don’t use them all. There is a cap on the amount of carbon dioxide allowances, ensuring that overall emissions are limited. States benefit from the money generated from these sales. In the case of Pennsylvania, this money will be put into the Clean Air Fund for the benefit of all Pennsylvanians. RGGI is predicted to create 27,000 jobs and generate approximately $2 billion from 2022 to 2030. RGGI will reduce air pollution and improve the health of Pennsylvanians, which will save money and lives.
Clean, renewable energy is here
Most of these fossil-fuel power plants will close with or without RGGI, as solar and wind are becoming more economical. RGGI provides the means to help these communities transition their workers to more sustainable jobs of the future. Without RGGI, these workers and communities will be left on their own when their plants close down.
Following DEP’s Regulatory and Rulemaking Process
Governor Wolf directed the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) through the Environmental Quality Board (EQB) to start taking steps to join RGGI under the authority of Pennsylvania’s Air Pollution Control Act (APCA). Most other states joined RGGI by passing legislation through their state government. Now, some Pennsylvania State Senators and State Representatives want Pennsylvania to go through the General Assembly in order to join RGGI--and they have drafted Senate Bill 119 and House Bill 637 to force the issue. These bills, known as the Carbon Dioxide Cap and Trade Authorization Act, strip the DEP of its authority to regulate carbon dioxide, which is a greenhouse gas that is currently regulated by the federal Clean Air Act.
We need to uphold the Air Pollution Control Act (APCA)
Stripping the DEP of this authority goes against one of the primary tenets of the APCA, which says Pennsylvania needs to “protect the air resources of the Commonwealth to the degree necessary for the … protection of public health, safety and well-being of its citizens.” In fact, those proposed bills, the Carbon Dioxide Cap and Trade Authorization Act, also:
Mandate that Pennsylvania cannot join any interstate greenhouse gas cap and trade legislation, including RGGI, without going through the General Assembly
Place burdensome requirements on the DEP before it can even bring it to the General Assembly, including determining:
how much RGGI compliance will cost individual plants
which plants will close
what the effect will be on the price of electricity
how much power production will move to other states
how much carbon dioxide will be reduced
what the economic impact will be
Last minute roadblocks and obstruction
The DEP and EQB have been following their established rulemaking process, including holding an extensive public comment period allowing both written and verbal input -- which showed that Pennsylvanians overwhelmingly supported joining RGGI. If the DEP and EQB are allowed to continue following their process without impediment from the naysayers, Pennsylvania will be able to join RGGI on January 1, 2022. This process started in 2019 when Governor Wolf signed an executive order directing the DEP to join RGGI. Pennsylvania is far along the path to joining RGGI; now is not the time for these last-minute attempts to delay the regulatory process.
RGGI’s benefits for all Pennsylvanians
Pennsylvania needs to join RGGI as soon as possible so we can start seeing the benefits of reduced carbon dioxide emissions, which will improve our environment and our health. The money from RGGI will encourage energy efficiency and renewable energy, which will bring local, good-paying jobs to our citizens. RGGI is one piece of the puzzle to transition our state to the green economy of the future.
Tell your legislators to say NO to SB 119 and HB 637!
SB 119 and HB 637 are misguided delay tactics attempting to postpone the inevitable positive future for all Pennsylvanians.