Yaw angry over Greenhouse Gas compact vote

State Sen. Gene Yaw, R-Loyalsock Township, spoke out this week against Gov. Tom Wolf’s mandate for the state to join the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative.

By a recent vote of 3-2, the Independent Regulatory Review Commission opened the door for the state to be part of the interstate initiative without legislative approval, according to Yaw, who serves as chair of the Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee.

The decision, he said, means the state loses control over its energy production, economic development, energy security and environmental protection.

“Instead of engaging with the General Assembly, the Wolf Administration, with IRRC’s approval, will allow the decisions on these important matters to be determined by the likes of New York, New Jersey and other states who thumb their nose at Pennsylvania energy. To participate in RGGI is to ignore the positive environmental impacts that are taking place right here in Pennsylvania, which include a dramatic reduction in carbon emissions over the past two decades,” Yaw stated. “Moreover, Pennsylvania will lose thousands of skilled and good paying jobs and untold millions of dollars in its tax base for CO2 emissions reductions stated to be less than 1%.”

His committee approved a letter to IRRC last month formally opposing the state joining RGGI.

On Oct. 3, 2019, Wolf directed the Department of Environmental Protection to become part of RGGI — a collaboration of 11 Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states, Yaw said. Those states will set a cap on total Carbon Dioxide (CO2) emissions from electric power generators in their states.

To comply, power plants must purchase a credit or “allowance” for each ton of CO2 they emit, he explained.

Pennsylvania would be the only state in the compact with a substantial number of coal or natural gas power energy production facilities and the only one to join the compact without legislative approval, he added.

Yaw noted that the Alternative Energy Portfolio Standards Act serves as a means of addressing climate change, something the Wolf Administration has been averse to negotiating on.

Various environmental groups, including the Sierra Club, PennEnvironment, Clean Air Council, and Pennsylvania Environmental Network, have spoken out against the bill passed by the state in 2004.

Yaw noted the fight may not be over.

In an email to the Sun-Gazette on Thursday, Yaw released the following: “Today at 11 a.m., the House ERE Committee voted to advance a concurrent resolution disapproving of the RGGI regulation, and on Sept. 14th the Senate will also advance a concurrent resolution disapproving of the regulation. At the end of the day, one of the resolutions will be presented to the governor where he will certainly veto it again and then the pressure is on the legislature to drum up the votes for another veto override attempt.”


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