Bill creates roadblock for Pennsylvania to join Greenhouse Gas Initiative

The state Senate recently passed a bill to require the Legislature to approve a proposal for Pennsylvania to join the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative.

State Sen. Gene Yaw, R-Loyalsock Township, was among lawmakers voting in favor of the bill, creating the Pennsylvania Carbon Dioxide Cap and Trade Authorization Act to prohibit the Department of Environmental Protection from joining the RGGI without Legislative approval.

“A carbon tax is a major energy and fiscal policy initiative that — if it is to be imposed on Pennsylvania employers and ratepayers — must be approved by the General Assembly,” Yaw said.

“RGGI is a superficial fix, at best. It does very little to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, moves electric generation to Ohio and West Virginia, all while putting hardworking Pennsylvanians out of work. The RGGI initiative also creates serious constitutional questions of checks and balances between co-equal branches of government,” Yaw said. “Senate Bill 119 restores that balance by requiring legislative approval before Pennsylvania imposes a carbon tax on employers operating in the Commonwealth.”

Joseph Minott, executive director of the Clean Air Council, said those who back the bill need to help find solutions rather than block efforts toward climate change.

“Science is telling us that climate change is happening,” he said.

The bill passed the Senate 35-15 with six Democrats joining Republicans to back the legislation.

In 2019, Gov. Tom Wolf directed DEP to join 11 states comprising RGGI.

Yaw noted that if Pennsylvania joins RGGI, it would be the only major energy-producing state in the compact.

RGGI states set a cap on total carbon dioxide emissions from electric power generators in their states. Power plants must purchase a credit for each ton of carbon emitted.

Yaw indicated the bill has a good chance of passing through the House

Minott accused lawmakers backing the legislation of being “captured” by the gas industry.

“That is really a disgrace,” he said. “They have it in their own power to work with Democrats to pass their own versions of RGGI.”

Minott said efforts should be made to create jobs of the future, not those tied to fossil fuels.


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