HomeEnvironment & Climate NewsGov. Tom Wolf Pushes Pennsylvania to Join Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative

Gov. Tom Wolf Pushes Pennsylvania to Join Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative

By Adam Houser

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf is attempting force the state to join the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) through an Executive Order.

RGGI is a cap-and-trade initiative among 11 Northeastern states mandating limits on carbon dioxide emissions from electric power plants. Companies producing electricity using fossil fuels must purchase tradeable allowances for their carbon dioxide emissions. Because there are declining number of allowances each year, companies are forced reduce emissions overtime.

Republican lawmakers in the Pennsylvania’s General Assembly are trying to block Wolf’s order through several bills. One measure, passed through Committee, instructs the legislature to send a letter to the RGGI leadership explaining Wolf lacks the authority to unilaterally opt Pennsylvania into the initiative.

‘A Cap-And-Trade Carbon Taxation Scheme’

The Energy Information Administration reports “Pennsylvania is the third-largest net supplier of energy to other states, after Wyoming and Texas.”

If Pennsylvania joins RGGI it will harm its economy and cede its energy leadership, Marc Morano, editor of ClimateDepot.com, a project of the Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow, which co-publishes Environment & Climate News, testified at a December 11, 2020 hearing held by Pennsylvania’s Department of Environmental Protection on Wolf’s RGGI order.

“Pennsylvania has been the energy success story of America; you have led the way in our CO2 reductions,” said Morano. “If you really cared about CO2 reductions you would be embracing your fracking revolution, you would be embracing Pennsylvania’s energy legacy.

“Instead, you’re turning it over to a cap-and-trade carbon taxation scheme that’s going to raise the cost of energy for Pennsylvanians, [but] have no impact not only on the weather,” Morano said.

RGGI States Lose Business

RGGI has had negative economic consequences for the states that are members of it, explains David Stevenson, director of Center for Energy & Environmental Policy at the Caesar Rodney Institute, in an article in the Cato Journal.

“[C]omparison states economies grew 2.5 times faster than the RGGI states,” Stevenson wrote. “Data from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis show that the RGGI states lost 35 percent of energy intensive businesses (primary metals, food processing, paper products, petroleum refining, and chemicals), the comparison states only lost 4 percent.

“The RGGI states lost 13 percent of overall goods production, while the comparison states grew by over 15 percent,” said Stevenson. “We see this impact show up in industrial electric demand with the RGGI states falling 17 percent, while non-RGGI comparison states only fell 3 percent.”

‘Strong Bipartisan Response’

Wolf lacks the authority to join RGGI without legislative approval, said Pennsylvania state Reps. James B. Struzzi, II (R-White Township), Donna Oberlander (R-Clarion), and Pam Snyder (D-Jefferson) in a memorandum sent to fellow lawmakers.

“A carbon tax is a major energy and fiscal policy initiative, and if such a tax is to be imposed on Pennsylvania industries, we believe it must emanate from the General Assembly,” said the legislators’ memorandum. “In addition to the fiscal impact on Pennsylvania manufacturers, coal and gas electric generation, consumers, and future economic investments made in our state, this also implicates serious constitutional principles of checks and balances that merit a strong, bipartisan response from the Legislative Branch.”

Adam Houser (ahouser@cfactcampus.org) writes from Fairfax, Virginia.

Official Connections

Gov. Tom Wolf: https://www.governor.pa.gov/; https://www.governor.pa.gov/contact/

State Rep. James B. Struzzi, II (R-White Township): http://www.repstruzzi.com/; https://www.pahouseformcenter.com/320/RepJimStruzzi/SecureContact

State Rep. Donna Oberlander (R-Clarion): http://www.repoberlander.com/; https://www.pahouseformcenter.com/423/RepDonnaOberlander/SecureContact

State Rep. Pam Snyder (D-Jefferson): https://www.pahouse.com/Snyder/; RepSnyder@pahouse.net

 

Adam Houser
Adam Houser coordinates student leaders as National Director of CFACT's collegians program and writes on issues of climate and energy.

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