Legislative Update from Senator Scott Hutchinson—Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative

When Governor Wolf signed an executive order in October 2019 to have Pennsylvania enter the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative – or RGGI – he took the first step in a process that could force the closure of Pennsylvania’s coal-fired electric generation plants, eliminate thousands of jobs, and increase energy costs for every Pennsylvania family and business. It is worth noting that Pennsylvania would be the only state to join RGGI without legislative approval. Meanwhile, Pennsylvania is a net exporter of energy with thousands of jobs in the energy sector.

RGGI is a collaboration of 11 northeastern states, and none are major producers of energy. The RGGI states set a cap on total carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from electric power generators in their states and power plants must purchase a credit or “allowance” for each ton of CO2 they emit.

When the governor announced his unilateral decision to join RGGI in 2019, the carbon tax rate was $5.20 per ton of CO2. Since then, the RGGI tax rate has increased by 79 percent to $9.30. Models produced for the state Department of Environmental Protection emphasized that the RGGI tax rate would not surpass $7 per CO2 ton until at least 2025.

It is also worth noting that the DEP has projected that, despite the claims of radical environmentalists, RGGI would have a very minimal impact on Pennsylvania’s air quality since man-made borders do little to stop the flow of air from neighboring energy-producing states.

Several bills have been approved to give the Legislature a say in the process, only to be killed by the governor’s veto pen. That meant RGGI has been jammed through the regulatory review process – with some questionable reversals in opinion by advisory panels along the way.

However, that doesn’t mean the fight is over. RGGI will certainly go to court because it is clearly a tax and it is a policy decision that runs counter to the roles of government set forth in the state Constitution

This article was published in the Venango Chamber’s October 2021 VenangoWorks! Newsletter.

Submit a Comment