Pa. lawmakers question the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative

Written by on February 24, 2021

Pa. lawmakers question the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative

By Rachel McDevitt / StateImpact Pennsylvania

February 24, 2021

The owners of Beaver Valley nuclear power station in Shippingport, Pa. reversed a decision to shut it down early, citing Gov. Tom Wolf’s plan to join RGGI. Amy Sisk / StateImpact Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania’s possible entry into a regional cap and trade program, designed to reduce emissions, does not affect this year’s budget, but Pennsylvania House lawmakers had many questions about the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative during a Feb. 22 budget hearing.

Listen to the story.

Opponents to RGGI used the hearing to repeat their criticism of the program, which requires power plants pay for each ton of carbon dioxide they emit. States can spend the proceeds on things like clean energy. 

The Wolf Administration plans to join the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative next year.

Some pointed to a recent letter from the Independent Regulatory Review Commission, or “irk,” that they believe sides with them.

IRRC determines whether a proposed rule is in the public interest. Its letter summarized public comment for and against RGGI, asked for more information from the Department of Environmental Protection, and asked for a one-year delay for joining the program to give businesses time to prepare.

DEP Secretary Patrick McDonnell says they are reviewing the letter.

“They are comments from IRRC. It is not necessarily a ruling; it is asking us to respond to what our authorities are, McDonnell says. 

Gov. Tom Wolf wants to use some RGGI revenue to help coal communities transition and to support environmental justice areas.

McDonnell says they are studying the best ways to do that and that.

DEP must include its response when it submits the final draft of the RGGI rule, which is expected by the end of this year.

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