Yaw correct about state collaboration with the RGGI

State Sen. Gene Yaw, R-Loyalsock Township, recently criticized the Wolf administration’s pursuit of state collaboration with the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative.

Yaw opposed the regional initiative because it shifts power from Pennsylvania’s elected Legislature to the governments of neighboring states. That’s because he says it gives short shrift to natural gas, which creates family sustaining jobs in our region and because Pennsylvania already has the tools to successfully reduce carbon emissions and improve Pennsylvania’s environmental health.

And Yaw is correct on each of these points.

First, it must be noted that the expectations of the electorates of New York, New Jersey and other states are different. That is the wisdom of our federalist design — each state’s government can be responsive to the principles and preferences of its own voters. Over time, states can observe what works and what doesn’t work and adjust their own expectations accordingly.

The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative upends that, chaining the fate of Pennsylvanians to the principles and preferences of voters from other states.

And the preferences at hand are the hostility of the New York state government and New Jersey state government to the natural gas industry. Pennsylvanians, particularly rural Pennsylvanians, have spent more than a decade rejecting that hostility, and subsequently benefitting from the high-paying jobs directly created by the industry, as well as the economic boon to other industries.

Moreover, Pennsylvania has benefitted from a cleaner environment, as emissions from natural gas remain lower than coal or heating oil consumption and the revenues from the impact fee and from leasing state lands for drilling have supported environmental abatement programs and our state’s parks and wilderness areas.

Natural gas has emerged as a reliable source of energy while we await either the technological advances that will make solar and wind power more feasible or the solutions to nuclear power’s concerns with waste and with its need to be heavily subsidized.

Pennsylvania has chosen the correct course, in its responsiveness to what rural voters want and in the role natural gas can play both in our economy and in transitioning to greater regard for environmental concerns.

And there is no reason to surrender that course so that New York and New Jersey can choose our course for us.


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