Friday, February 7, 2020

Senators Yudichak, Argall, Yaw To Introduce Resolution Directing Joint Conservation Committee To Study Impacts Of Joining RGGI On Coal Waste Cogeneration

On February 7, Senators John Yudichak (I-Luzerne), David Argall (R-Schuylkill) and Gene Yaw (R-Lycoming) announced their intent to introduce a resolution directing the Joint Air and Water Pollution Control and Conservation Committee to study the potential impacts of joining the Regional Greenhouse Gas Reduction Initiative on the coal waste-fired electric generation industry.
At a February 3 hearing, DEP Secretary Patrick McDonnell told the Joint Conservation Committee coal waste-fired power plants will not incur significant compliance costs under DEP’s draft Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative regulations because of special provisions and carve outs in the proposal. Click Here for more.
In the co-sponsor memo circulated by the Senators, however, they said, “In October of 2019, the Governor took steps to force Pennsylvania to join RGGI without the advice and consent of the General Assembly. 
“There are many unanswered questions regarding what Pennsylvania’s entry into RGGI means for these energy jobs in Pennsylvania.
“The coal refuse to energy industry generates electricity by using coal refuse for power generation. 
“While using local fuel supplies and local workers, these plants are also responsible for a considerable amount of environmental remediation with an estimated 240 acres of land remediated each year.
“Polluted streams are made safe for aquatic life and recreation again while massive black mountains of waste coal that had been left untouched for decades are now eliminated.”
As noted, the resolution was introduced in response to an executive order Gov. Wolf signed in October directing DEP to join the interstate Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative through a regulation adopted by the Environmental Quality Board.
RGGI is a market-based cap-and-invest by northeast states to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from power plants.
Many Republican legislators believe putting a price on carbon through these programs will have a significant, detrimental impact on the state’s economy and on the coal industry.  Click Here for more.
In November Republican Senate and House members announced legislation-- House Bill 2025 (Struzzi-R-Indiana) and Senate Bill 950 (Pittman-R-Indiana) which would take away the authority of DEP to adopt any program to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, like the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative.
The sponsors said the primary purpose of the bills was to protect Pennsylvania’s remaining coal-fired power plants.
The bills would prohibit DEP from adopting any program to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, unless specifically authorized by the General Assembly.  Click Here for more.
In addition, the House and Senate have held several briefings and hearings on RGGI and the climate change issue in the last year.
The Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee held its first briefing on RGGI on October 22 and a hearing January 29 on the proposed interstate Transportation Climate Initiative.
The House Environmental Committee held information meetings and hearings on the climate change issue including in March where climate skeptics debunked the myths surrounding climate change, another featuring DEP Secretary Patrick McDonnell in September where RGGI was discussed and a hearing in October pitting climate skeptics and deniers against most of the scientific community.
On February 5, the House Committee held a hearing specifically on the issue of the impacts on Pennsylvania’s economy of joining RGGI.  Click Here for more.
On January 31, DEP announced it would be unveiling draft regulations establishing a RGGI-compatible program to establish the cap-and-invest program on February 13 at a meeting of DEP’s Air Quality Technical Advisory Committee.  Click Here for more.
For more information on RGGI, visit DEP’s Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative webpage.  Click Here for a copy of DEP’s draft RGGI regulation.
(Photo: Senators Yudichak, Argall, Yaw.)
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[Posted: February 7, 2020]  PA Environment Digest

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