Pennsylvania moved closer to joining a regional program in 2021 to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by power plants.
Despite repeated attempts by Republicans to stop it, the legislature is still in control of them.
The program requires power plants to pay for every ton of carbon dioxide they produce. This makes dirtier sources of energy less attractive. The state can use this money to finance programs for energy efficiency and clean energy.
Wolf made it the central focus of his climate plan.
Republicans have been trying to stop the proposal because they claim it amounts to an illegal tax.
In April, all 27 Republican senators in the state Senate and one Independent wrote to the governor requesting their support. BlockUnless Wolf supports RGGI, his nominations to the state utility regulator will not be considered.
Robert Routh, Clean Air Council attorney called the note a ransom note.
Today it is about RGGI. Routh said that tomorrow could be about a different policy dispute.
Wolf eventually pulled his nominee.
Some lawmakers sent a May report. Let me knowThe nonprofit that administers this program, RGGI, Inc., asked for an intergovernmental agreement to stop the state from joining.
Ben Grumbles from Maryland Environment Secretary sits on the board. He stated that they don’t need legislative backing to admit new states. They check that a state’s plan conforms to the RGGI framework.
Grumbles stated that we don’t micromanage the state’s legal, policy, or program decisions.
The Department of Environmental Protection received over 14,000 comments and modified the proposal to include some protections for disadvantaged communities and waste coal plants, among other changes.
The Environmental Quality Board ApprovedIt was in July.
Senator Gene Yaw (Republican from Lycoming), was one of the few who voted no. He stated that RGGI would not make a significant dent in national emission but would cost the state jobs.
Yaw stated, “I cannot see Pennsylvania losing control over our economy or our environment.”
Pennsylvania is fourth in the U.S. in carbon emissions. It has a long tradition of coal mining and produces much more natural gas than any other state.
The Senate voted in October DisapproveThe RGGI rule.
Senator Pro Tempore Jake Corman (R-Centre), stated that it would prevent the development of industry related Marcellus shale-gas drilling.
This decision to enter into RGGI sends a terrible message about Pennsylvania. Corman said that it was a terrible message that you’re going to see a lack of investment.
The state House PassedThe resolution was passed Dec. 15, even though the Wolf Administration had argued that the House had run out the time to vote.
Wolf has a period of 10 days to veto a resolution once it reaches his desk.
A veto would send the legislation back to the legislature. Each chamber has 30 calendar days, or 10 legislative days, whichever is longer, to attempt to override the objection. The Wolf Administration cannot proceed with the regulation within that time.
If the legislature fails with the required two-thirds majority, the state can join RGGI.
Lawmakers could also seek a legal challenge, further delaying enactment.
Also, bills were introduced in the Senate and House that would prohibit the state’s participation in RGGI programs. These bills have failed in the past.
This story was produced in partnership with StateImpact Pennsylvania, a collaboration of WESA and The Allegheny Front with WITF and WHYY.