11.19.2019

Pennsylvania Senators Unveil RGGI, Carbon Tax Legislation

  • Declares the legislature does not believe the Governor has the ability to unilaterally enter RGGI.
  • Codifies a process that allows the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to move forward with RGGI, which includes a public comment period, public hearings, and requires the DEP to submit their proposal to the General Assembly.
  • Requires legislative approval before the DEP can formally enter RGGI.
  • Senator Yaw, Chairman of the Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee, stressed that the Legislature must be an active participant in the process. “The state legislature must be involved in any dialogue that would seek to impose a carbon tax, or similar tax, on in-state employers and citizens,” said Senator Yaw. “The Governor has unilaterally chosen a path forward to entering RGGI, and I have said before there remains a large number of unanswered questions as to what participating in RGGI would entail for the citizens of Pennsylvania.  I remain leery in entering into any consortium with New York, New Jersey and Maryland who thumb their nose at Pennsylvania energy and embrace energy from foreign markets.” Senator Argall, Chairman of the Senate Majority Policy Committee, raised concerns about the impact of the Governor’s executive order. “If the Governor insists on his plan, he will destroy the state’s struggling coal refuse industry. It is particularly disappointing in light of the fact that he previously supported federal plans to help these plants improve our local environment. Now he wants to put them out of business,” said Senator Argall, Chairman of the Senate Majority Policy Committee. “I recently asked the residents of Schuylkill and Berks Counties their opinions on the Governor’s executive order to unilaterally tax carbon through one of my monthly polls. Eighty percent of respondents said that they opposed the Governor’s executive order.” The RGGI could have severe consequences in the state beyond impacting the viability of Pennsylvania’s 19 coal-fired electric generating units (EGU) – nearly one-quarter of the Commonwealth’s total electric generation capacity. If they were forced out of business the burden of a carbon tax on power generation would be paid entirely by Pennsylvania’s natural gas-fired EGUs. That would likely make them less competitive with comparable plants in neighboring states and as such drive investment in natural gas electric generation to other states. “This legislation is as much about separation of powers as it is about climate policy.  One of the key components of RGGI is a tax on carbon emissions.  The power to tax is a function of the legislative branch, not the executive branch,” said Senator Pittman. “Regardless of anyone’s position on climate policy, it is a dangerous precedent to assume the Governor can unilaterally impose a tax. A carbon tax is a major energy and fiscal policy initiative. Beyond the fiscal impact on Pennsylvania manufacturers, coal and gas electric generation, consumers, and future economic investments made in our state, it also creates serious constitutional questions of checks and balances between the co-equal branches of government.” This article appeared on the Pennsylvania State Republicans website at https://www.pasenategop.com/blog/senators-unveil-rggi-carbon-tax-legislation/]]>

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