Wolf Administration Announces PA to Join Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative

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HARRISBURG, Pa. (Erie News Now) – Pennsylvania will be joining the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, or RGGI. The multi-state initiative works to reduce pollution from electric power plants.  

In June 2019, Governor Tom Wolf signed an executive order directing the Department of Environmental Protection to begin the process of joining RGGI, an eleven-state initiative to cap and reduce power sector emissions.

“This is the most proven, cost effective, ready to go solution that we have at our disposal,” said DEP Project Lead for RGGI, Allen Landis.

Landis says RGGI states set a regional limit on electric power plants, which decreases each year to reduce emissions.

“Each ton of emissions that a power plant produces, they have to buy one allowance,” said Landis.

Qualifying power plants will be looking at a fee of about $10 per ton of emissions. Each state has its own allowance budget, Pennsylvania’s will be around 75 million tons annually. The allowances can also be purchased or traded.

“And again, it’s a regional market, so power plants in different states can buy different allowances from different states,” said Landis.

The Wolf Administration says joining RGGI can reduce carbon emissions by 227 million tons by the year 2030. However, opponents to joining RGGI say it can increase prices for consumers.

“Ultimately, this is an $800 million carbon tax via regulation,” said Ashley Klingensmith, State Director for Americans for Prosperity.

Klingensmith says it’s going to do more harm than good.

“They’re going to see, like I said, increased energy costs, we’re certainly going to see jobs lost,” said Klingensmith.

Klingensmith says a report from the Independent Fiscal Office indicates over the last decade, non-RGGI states lowered emissions by 42 percent, whereas RGGI states were closer to 47 percent.

“So that four to five percent difference, many people do not believe is a worthwhile trade off,” said Klingensmith.

State Senators who oppose the entrance into RGGI, like Senate President Pro Temp Jake Corman (R-Centre), tried to fight it but came up one vote shy of a veto override earlier this month.

“When the governor proposed it, we did a resolution disallowing him. He vetoed that resolution. We tried to do a veto override,” said Corman. “It’s bad public policy for Pennsylvania, particularly western Pennsylvania. The plastic industry in Erie is very big, this would have a harm to that, a significant increase in cost and energy for all Pennsylvanians. It’d put us in a very vulnerable position,” Corman added.

The regulation that enters Pennsylvania into RGGI will be formally posted tomorrow.

DEP says it will now determine the number of allowances for carbon pollution required for each power plant and that power plants must start accounting for their CO2 emissions starting on July 1.

Facilities have until Mar 1, 2023, to account for 50 percent of their 2022 emissions and until Mar 1, 2024, to account for 100 percent of their 2022 emissions. Power plants will be required to have 50 percent of their 2022 required allowances by Mar 1, 2023, and 100 percent of required allowances by Mar 1, 2024.


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