07.14.2021

Board Approves RGGI Rule, Moving Pa. a Step Closer to Joining Carbon Emissions Program

By Rachel McDevitt

Pennsylvania is set to become the first major fossil fuel-producing state to put a price on carbon emissions. The Environmental Quality Board voted 15-4 Tuesday to adopt the final regulation that would have Pennsylvania join the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, a cap-and-trade program that targets carbon dioxide emissions in the power sector. 

Next Steps for RGGI

EQB’s vote is a significant step in the regulatory process. 

The rule now goes to the Independent Regulatory Review Commission and the Attorney General’s Office for final review before publication. The Wolf administration hopes to join the program in early 2022.

IRRC determines whether a proposed rule is in the public interest, as defined by state law. The board is made up of three Democratic appointees and two Republican appointees. 

The Attorney General must determine whether a proposed regulation complies with existing law.  Read More

There could be other hurdles. DEP Secretary Patrick McDonnell has said he anticipates a legal challenge.

Rep. Daryl Metcalfe (R-Butler) said during the EQB meeting that lawmakers will bring up a bill this fall that would require legislative approval to join a cap-and-trade program. Gov. Tom Wolf vetoed a similar bill last year. 

The EQB is a 20-members board that adopts all of the Department of Environmental Protection’s regulations. It is made up of eleven state agency heads, five members of the Citizens Advisory Council and four members of the Senate and House.

Metcalfe made several motions to delay Tuesday’s vote. All failed.

Sen. Gene Yaw (R-Lycoming) voted no on the final rule, saying it would cost the state jobs in the energy sector without making a meaningful dent in national emissions. He said he’s also concerned the program will give other member states sway in Pennsylvania decisions.

“I cannot see giving up Pennsylvania control over our own economy and our own environment,” he said.

This article appeared on the Alleghany Front website at https://www.alleghenyfront.org/rggi-regional-greenhouse-gas-initiative-carbon-pennsylvania/

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