Thursday, February 6, 2020

Witnesses Tell House Committee About The Negative Consequences Of PA Joining Regional Greenhouse Gas Reduction Initiative

On February 5, the House Environmental Resources and Energy Committee heard from eleven witnesses who highlighted what they thought were the disadvantages and negative impacts to Pennsylvania’s economy and jobs if DEP goes ahead with regulations establishing a cap-and-trade program to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from power plants.
The comments were made at a hearing on House Bill 2025 (Struzzi-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 legislation, and a companion bill in the Senate-- Senate Bill 950 (Pittman-R-Indiana), would prohibit DEP from adopting any program to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, unless specifically authorized by the General Assembly.
The intent of the legislation is to protect coal-burning power plants in Pennsylvania, according to the sponsors.
Two exchanges during the hearing between Rep. Daryl Metcalfe (R-Butler), Majority Chair of the Committee, and Committee members shed some light on the Committee’s discussion so far on climate change, as well as a video recently posted on his website.
Near the end of the hearing, Rep. Metcalfe recognized Rep. Danielle Friel Otten (D-Chester) to ask a question of a panel of presenters--
-- Rep. Otten -- "Thank you for your testimony. I heard several things that raised questions for me. Someone mentioned that our most important resource is our workforce and I agree that our workforce is very important, but I would argue that our most important resource is our children and our families. 
"And I think that as most of you probably also are parents, not one of us would be willing to sacrifice a child for a job. 
"RGGI would actually improve the quality of life, the economic vitality and livelihoods of many families…”
-- Rep. Metcalfe -- "Excuse me, Rep. Otten, we're not taking testimony from you. We're asking for a question. We have other members who would like to ask questions, on your side of the aisle especially.
-- Rep. Otten -- "I have a question. I have a question.”
-- Rep. Metcalfe -- "...round up the question please."
-- Rep. Otten -- "So [through RGGI] we would be able to invest in electrification of transportation, reforestation, which there's no better carbon capture mechanism than a tree, [pay for] rebates back to consumers to lower their electricity costs. 
“What my question is, how many man hours are worth a life and what is your statistical value of a life?  In Beaver County, we experienced an explosion [of a natural gas pipeline]...”
-- Rep. Metcalfe -- "Thank you for your time to testify...."
-- Rep. Otten -- "Are you silencing my question?
-- Rep. Metcalfe -- "We weren't accepting testimony and your question to try and pose to these gentlemen, [who] are experts in their own fields, to ask them a question, how many hours are worth a life is a ludicrous question and something that shouldn't be posed respectfully to any testifier before this Committee.”
Rep. Metcalfe then was bringing the hearing to a close and recognized Rep. Greg Vitali (D-Delaware), Minority Chair of the Committee, for a question--
-- Rep. Vitali -- “Thank you. Most every speaker who testified here today had an economic interest in either the burning of fossil fuels or the building of fossil fuel plants. 
“Not a single speaker here today was to testify about RGGI explaining, explaining the need for it or explaining the need [to address] climate change. 
“That's very unfortunate. I don't really have a question for you. Thank you.”
-- Rep. Metcalfe -- “Thank you for your disrespectful way to ask, not ask, a question Rep. Vitali. Yes, you told me that you wanted to ask a question. I recognized you to ask a question. You burn up the rest of our time with saying you really don't have a question. 
“It's very disrespectful to the process. 
“And the reason why you heard from people who are impacted by RGGI is because these are people who are impacted by RGGI. 
“If we just bring people in that are some of your friends and contributors, who want to destroy the fossil fuel industry and want us all going back to horse and buggies, and they wouldn't be satisfied with that because, like the mayor of New York, they probably wouldn't appreciate having too many horses around, like he doesn't appreciate cattle, which lead him to his meatless Mondays.
[Turning to presenters]  “Thank you very much for joining us today. Thanks for your testimony and we look forward to further discussions and interaction. We appreciate all of the testifiers’ testimony today. 
“And as I mentioned to one of our earlier panels, the Committee did hear you on the impacts this is going to cause to your members, to your communities, and to our state. 
“So thank you for being here today to speak up and be heard, as we heard had not happened in other states from anybody who was going to be impacted by RGGI when it was adopted in those states. 
“To create a new tax will not help the economy and will not help all of you that talked today, so thank you for being with us. We appreciate it.”
Rep. Metcalfe also posted a video on his website that provides additional insights.  Rep. Metcalfe said--
“Recently, another online petition has been launched calling for my removal as the House Majority Chairman [of the Environmental Committee]. 
“This unwarranted, personal attack from the deep pocketed climate alarmist lobby reinforces the fact that no other Pennsylvania Legislator has ever been targeted more than me for removal or resignation without having been involved in any crime or scandal.
“Why? Because I make no apologies for advancing only winning Republican policies through my Republican Majority Committee and I refuse to back down or be intimidated by any of these socialist mobs or their reprehensible, fake, fear generating tactics. 
“This was true throughout my tenure as Majority Chairman of the House State Government Committee. 
“It is also true in 2020, as I work to stop Pennsylvania's rogue Governor from entering the Commonwealth into the job killing and economy crashing regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative without legislative approval.
“As Majority Chairman of the House Environmental Resources and Energy Committee, I will continue my fight to hold over-regulating, salivating politicians and bureaucrats accountable, while protecting the health, wealth and safety of all Pennsylvanians.”
Summary Of Major Comments
Here’s a summary of some of the key comments made by the witnesses--
-- David T. Stevenson, Caesar Rodney Institute, told the Committee his peer-reviewed study of the impact RGGI has made on participating states concluded “RGGI did not reduce carbon dioxide emissions or have associated health benefits, when compared to non-RGGI states with similar energy policies.”
“Both RGGI and non-RGGI comparison states reduced coal-fired generation 16 percentage points while increasing natural gas fired generation about 10 percentage points.”
He noted in Pennsylvania, “emissions were cut by 72 million tons from 2005 to 2018, or 25 percent while US emissions fell 14 percent, with the rest of the developed world cutting only 5 percent.”
He said, “It is likely the Governor's 26 percent goal by 2025 was met in 2019.”
When asked what would reduce greenhouse gas emissions, he responded by saying more conversions of power plants from coal to natural gas, as the U.S. Energy Information Administration projects.
Stevenson presented similar testimony before the Senate Environmental and Transportation Committees on January 29
Vince Brisini, Olympus Power, LLC, summarized his remarks by saying RGGI will not result in carbon dioxide emissions regulations that will affect local, regional or global climate; will only generate $175-$200 million per year in RGGI tax revenue for Pennsylvania; will result in the loss of 830 direct jobs and 8,000 indirect jobs in Western Pennsylvania; will result in the lost of $3.1 billion in annual economic benefits; and will result in the loss of annual local and state tax revenues and service fees of $52.3 million.
Sean Lane, Chief Power, LLC, said the draft DEP RGGI regulations released to DEP’s Air Quality Technical Advisory Committee is a regulation “without any firm legislative authority.”
With respect to power plant carbon emissions in Pennsylvania, Lane said, “..we have already out performed all of the Carbon Metrics set for Pennsylvania generation by President Obama's Clean Power Plan, the Paris Accords, and even Gov. Wolf's own previously established carbon goals. 
“In fact, there is good reason to believe that carbon emissions and other pollutants will increase in the region if Pennsylvania adopts RGGI because our electricity generation capacity will be replaced with new or existing generation from non-RGGI PJM states such as Ohio and West Virginia.”
“RGGI is a nuclear tipped economic cruise missile aimed at the Coal Fired power plants - and the citizens - located in Allegheny, Armstrong, Cambria & Indiana Counties. These Pennsylvania counties represent "Ground Zero" for RGGI.”
“We ask that you embrace the vital direct economic contribution from the coal fired facilities to the communities that they serve.
“As a matter of fairness and legitimate legal authority, we believe that Pennsylvania must obtain prior legislative authorization before committing the Commonwealth to RGGI or, for that matter, to any cap and trade program.”
“Without these sorts of protections we are unilaterally destroying existing investment and existing jobs and purchasing, at best, a diminished future for Pennsylvania's energy markets.”
Paul Cameron, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers 459, said, “We operate and maintain hydro, natural gas and coal refuse generating stations as well as the three largest coal electric generating stations in the state: Homer City, Conemaugh, Seward, Shawville, Keystone generating stations.”
“The generating stations that I have mentioned have evolved immensely since their initial construction. They are constantly changing by adding new equipment, updating operating procedures, and finding better ways to run a cleaner, more efficient and safer plant. 
“Proof of this is the 40 percent drop in per capita emissions from 2005 to 2017 of our Pennsylvania power plants. This is the same reduction as the RGGI states, which makes me wonder if the RGGI program actually is responsible for reduced emissions or was it just the evolution of the industry?”
“When we talk about preserving or protecting Pennsylvania's natural resources, we must be mindful of the most important resources that Pennsylvania has: Its workforce.”
“Please keep in mind, it is always working people who have kept the economy going. Preserving these family sustaining jobs for the working people of Pennsylvania is my number one priority and I ask that you please make it yours.”  
In 2019, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers also provided testimony to the House supporting efforts to keep Pennsylvania’s nuclear power plants open because, they said these plants create more jobs than any other source of energy and nuclear energy helps Pennsylvania align with the goals of the Paris Climate Accords by reducing the state’s carbon footprint.
Shawn Steffee, Boilermakers Local 154, told the Committee boilermakers play a large role in the building and maintenance of coal and gas-fired power plants. He said RGGI will cause a "severe" impact on the coal-generated industry and will result in lost business opportunities. 
He noted Germany is unable to rely on renewables to meet their clean energy goals and spoke about the problem of recycling solar energy panels. He concluded his testimony by urging the House to approve House Bill 2025.    
In 2018, the Boilermakers Union provided testimony to the Senate-House Nuclear Energy Caucus supporting efforts to keep Pennsylvania’s nuclear power plants open saying, “For years, Boilermakers have acknowledged the realities of climate change and have successfully advocated at the state and federal level for solutions which simultaneously allow for the responsible use of all of our domestic energy resources, maintenance of a diverse energy portfolio, and job creation.”
Donald Arena, South Central PA Building Trades Council, said, “Based on the last 15 years, we have seen numerous coal fired power plants either convert to natural gas or retire which in tum reduced carbon emissions. 
“Without RGGI in place it is estimated that the remainder of coal fired plants [will] retire in [the] next 5 to 10 years, if not sooner. 
“With RGGI in place these plants will close almost immediately after it is implemented. 
“We need to let these plants retire on their own pace. By doing this we will have an opportunity to replace these plants with another form of energy, instead of giving the opportunity to another state in the PJM operation market.
“We need to entice investors to build new facilities on these retired power generation sites, not deter them. This would give the communities a chance to recoup some of the tax revenue losses from the current plants closing. 
“Just the mere fact that the governor has announced that he would like to become a part of the RGGI program, has already deterred investors from looking in our Commonwealth to build future plants. 
“In Fayette County there is a closed fossil fuel plant that retired in 2012 called Hatfield Ferry. This plant is slated to have a new combined cycle gas fired power plant built on its site. 
“We understand that the investors were considering not building this plant because RGGI is a possibility in this Commonwealth.
“Let's face facts, if I were an investor and had billions of dollars to invest in energy, and I have a choice between investing in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania as a RGGI state, or investing in Ohio or West Virginia that doesn't have an additional cap and trade mechanism in place, which one would I invest in? 
“Why would developers build a gas fired plant in a state that would have additional operating costs of $2.35 per MW hour. I think we need to look at the big picture.”
Carl Marrara, PA Manufacturers' Association, began his remarks by saying, “Let us begin by establishing a commonsense baseline: everyone wants a clean, healthy, and sustainable environment. 
“The issue at hand is whether or not a government program, that will undoubtedly add substantial costs to Pennsylvania's electricity consumers, is the best mechanism to achieve the cleanest, healthiest, and most sustainable environment possible. 
“You'll find that the answer to this question is clearly that RGGI does not accomplish this goal, but the program will negatively impact Pennsylvania's economy in a punishing way.
“It is imperative that Pennsylvania policymakers not enact laws or regulations that place our commonwealth at a competitive disadvantage to our competitor states. Laws and regulations should not be more stringent than federal regulations or laws unless there is a compelling reason that is unique to our commonwealth. 
“Pennsylvania is fortunate to have abundant natural resources. Individuals have been and continue to be attracted to the Keystone state because of the vast choices for outdoor recreation and quality of life.
“ Likewise, many of those natural resources have been the source of prosperity for the state throughout different points in our history.
“It [is] important to ensure that environmental regulation is approached on sound scientific evidence to ensure that regulations are reasonable and within technological limits. 
“It is likewise prudent that these regulations actually achieve real environmental benefits and do not advantage one sector of the economy to the detriment of another. RGGI fails all of these bright-line tests and should be rejected by Gov. Wolf and the Pennsylvania General Assembly.”
“By entering into RGGI, industrial activity will be relocated, and who knows where it will go. Tax policies at the federal level are making it the smart business decision to locate, hire, and expand here in the United States. 
“Let's not drive that activity back across our borders into neighboring states, or worse, foreign countries. 
“It's not a stretch to say that by supporting RGGI you're supporting Russian and/ or Middle Eastern global energy leadership and Chinese steel-dumping. 
“Let's work with our industries to invent, innovate, and forge a clean, healthy, and sustainable environment - not overregulate our many vital industries out of existence.”
Kevin Sunday, PA Chamber of Business & lndustry, opened by saying, “With regard to greenhouse gas emissions, we support efforts in Pennsylvania which balance societal environmental, energy, and economic objectives, fit rationally within any national or international strategy which may take shape, and capitalize on the availability of Pennsylvania's diverse natural resources to facilitate economic development in the Commonwealth.
“We recognize that a changing climate will present significant challenges to Pennsylvania and the United States, and that anthropogenic activities are a contributing factor. 
“Addressing this challenge will necessarily involve the private sector to develop innovative solutions, practices and technologies; however, we must be judicious in proceeding in a manner that continues to leverage Pennsylvania's historic strengths as an energy producer and a leader in manufacturing, allowing businesses and consumers the choice to develop and utilize the energy solution that works best for them, while still pursuing the desired environmental result.”
He noted the statement of policy within the state Air Pollution Control Act includes references to this balance--
“It is hereby declared to be the policy of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania to protect the air resources of the Commonwealth to the degree necessary for the (i) protection of public health, safety and well- being of its citizens; (ii) prevention of injury to plant and animal life and to property; (iii) protection of the comfort and convenience of the public and the protection of the recreational resources of the Commonwealth; (iv) development, attraction and expansion of industry, commerce and agriculture; and (v) implementation of the provision of the Clean Air Act.” (emphasis added by presenter)
Sunday said there have already been significant reductions in greenhouse gas emissions nationally and in Pennsylvania specifically as a result of competitive markets [closing coal-fired power plants in favor of cheaper natural gas].
With respect to the recently released draft RGGI regulations by DEP, he said the state Air Pollution Control Act obligates DEP to submit to the General Assembly “multistate air pollution control compacts or agreements which would seem to include any agreement to joint RGGI.”
[Note: The provision says, “Cooperate with the appropriate agencies of the United States or of other states or any interstate agencies with respect to the control, prevention, abatement and reduction of air pollution, and where appropriate formulate interstate air pollution control compacts or agreements for the submission thereof to the General Assembly.”
[There are no other provisions in the Act directing whether or not the General Assembly is authorized to approve or disapprove those “compacts or agreements.”  The only interstate groups referred to in the Act are related to Regional Ozone Transport Commissions created by the federal Clean Air Act.
[The state Act does outline provisions for public review of State Air Quality Implementation Plan revisions, which includes submission to the Senate and House Environmental Committee for comment.
[Regulations implementing the State Air Quality Implementation Plan are reviewed by the public, the House and Senate and Independent Regulatory Review Commission under the Regulatory Review Act.]
Sunday also pointed out DEP’s draft RGGI regulations do not include a starting cap number or base year.  “It is difficult to forecast project costs on industry with an understanding of the starting point.”
He told the Committee, “DEP has contracted with a third-party vendor to conduct economic analysis on both the RGGI model rule and the economy-wide cap and trade petition under consideration by the Environmental Quality Board. 
“This analysis has not yet been completed, so we are without a full understanding of potential costs and benefits. 
“It does appear the draft regulation contains provisions intended to minimize direct regulatory exposure for industrial facilities which operate generation units, which our members appreciate.
“However, our members operating in the industrial sector do have concern that the potential price impacts from RGGI, should the carbon price escalate, will have a negative impact on their ability to compete. 
“A recent economic analysis from Resources For the Future and academic researchers, circulated through the National Bureau of Economic Research, found that an increased regional carbon tax in the northeast on power generation would reduce employment in participating states and boost employment in nearby, non-participating states, with the heaviest impacts felt by energy-intensive manufacturing.”
Sunday concluded his remarks by saying, “...we must now note that several states involved in RGGI have taken actions through the federal Clean Air Act to request more onerous regulatory obligations on Pennsylvania businesses. 
“These states, including New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Delaware, and Maryland, have petitioned EPA to establish more stringent emissions rules on our member companies' manufacturing and energy infrastructure facilities, alleging that it is the fault of Pennsylvania businesses that these states cannot meet their federal air quality obligations under the National Ambient Air Quality Standards. 
“These petitions have repeatedly, and properly, been rejected by the EPA, but we must note that the state must expend considerable time and resources in responding to these petitions. 
“Some of these same states have also attempted to unilaterally veto the construction of natural gas infrastructure that federal regulators have certified under the standard of public convenience and necessity.” 
Sunday also made comments pointing out the disadvantages of the interstate Transportation Climate Initiative before the Senate Environmental and Transportation Committees January 29.
Rod Williamson, lndustrial Energy Consumers of Pennsylvania, said in his comments, “Our issue is not with the underlying goals of reducing carbon emissions, but rather the unnecessary cost that would be imposed on electric generators in Pennsylvania associated with a carbon cap and trade program like the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI). 
“A RGGI program will increase the cost of electricity to Pennsylvania residents, commercial businesses and large energy intensive, trade exposed manufacturers.”
“Looking at the annual amount of RGGI auction revenues collected in each participating state spread over the Electric Power sector CO2 [carbon dioxide] emissions in those states results in a cost of $3.35 per metric ton. 
“When applied to 82.1 metric tons of Electric Power sector CO2 emissions in Pennsylvania, the financial impact just from the RGGI carbon allowance auction on PA would be approx. $275 million per year in additional cost to electric generators that will be passed along to consumers. 
“However, this does not even consider the costs of additional secondary market CO2 allowances that generators may need to purchase or the increased cost to electric generators to reduce CO2 emissions to comply with RGGI.”
“Pennsylvania has already taken steps and passed laws to increase renewable energy supply and improve energy efficiency.  More importantly Pennsylvania's competitive electricity market continues to add lower carbon dioxide emitting generation while decreasing cost to customers.”
Rebecca Oyler, National Federation of lndependent Business-PA, said “Putting a price on CO2 production will make Pennsylvania's energy less competitive. And it will affect the Commonwealth to a much greater degree that it does other RGGI states. 
“Capping CO2 emissions in Pennsylvania's energy sector will also likely mean higher prices for RGGI state consumers, who pay lower prices than they otherwise would because they purchase energy from Pennsylvania.
“Implementing cap and trade policies on energy generation through participating in RGGI will change the comparative advantage that Pennsylvania has and will mean higher energy costs across the board for businesses and consumers and less competitive energy prices for our exports.”
“Given the costs involved in committing Pennsylvania to RGGI, it is most appropriate for the General Assembly, rather than the executive alone, to weigh costs and benefits involved in this important decision. 
“This is why we support House Bill 2025, which requires that the General Assembly must authorize Pennsylvania's participation in RGGI and that DEPconduct public hearings.
“Lastly, RGGl's carbon pricing minimums and allowance limits are, in effect, taxes on the state's energy producers, the revenue for which will be allocated to programs that may not receive legislative review. 
“In fact, giving RGGI the ability to control the artificially created market for these allowances and the "tax" that results from them may be an unconstitutional delegation of the legislature's ability to levy taxes and make expenditures. This is all the more reason to consider HB 2025 as a check on the authority of the executive branch.”
Rachel Gleason, PA Coal Alliance, told the Committee, “Since Pennsylvania deregulated its electric generation market in 1996, 18 coal-fired electric generating units have deactivated or converted to natural gas, including Bruce Mansfield, a powerhouse at nearly 2,500 MW, which shuttered its doors this past November. 
“One other coal-fired electric generating unit is scheduled to end its coal use by 2029. As a result, 11.4 GW4 of coal nameplate capacity has or is scheduled to go offline since deregulation.
“Following these closures, Pennsylvania will have five coal-fired electric generating units remaining. 
“In 2018, these five remaining coal-fired units consumed 8.4 million tons of coal extracted by bituminous coal mining operations in Pennsylvania. 
“Overall, coal accounted for 20 percent of the net electricity generated in the Commonwealth in 2018, which is down significantly from 48 percent just a decade ago. 
“The incessant regulatory pressures experienced by coal-fired generation, coupled with the advent of shale gas over this past decade proved to be a perfect storm that resulted in a transformation of the coal-fired power generation business, and has had profound effects on Pennsylvania coal producers. 
“Over the last decade, Pennsylvania has shuttered more than 50 percent of its bituminous coal mines.
“The economic hardships these plants and subsequent mine closures have had on local economies throughout Pennsylvania have been devastating. 
“PCA member companies fully realize the electric power generation market has significantly transformed this past decade and have remained committed to working within this changing market to ensure that coal remains an affordable, reliable and resilient resource to the grid.
“That said, PCA has serious concerns about Gov. Wolf's October Executive Order directing our state Department of Environmental Protection to develop regulations joining Pennsylvania to the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI).”
“In Pennsylvania, the top fossil fuel electric generators who emit carbon dioxide, in order of intensity per MWh, are waste coal, coal, and natural gas.  
[Note: DEP’s draft RGGI regulations include provisions reducing compliance obligations on coal waste-fired generation units.  Click Here for more.]
“As such, implementing RGGI in Pennsylvania will have differing financial implications for each affected generation unit, some higher than others on a per MWh basis, that may result in the immediate closure of certain electric power generators, while creating long-term unfavorable economic challenges for others. 
“Taxing over 50 percent of Pennsylvania's electric power generation units will increase the cost to generate electricity, and it will inevitably be passed on to the ratepayer and consumers through increased prices for goods. 
“RGGI states' retail electricity rates have risen as much as 27 percent since 2009 (Rhode Island 27 percent, Vermont 19.7 percent, Massachusetts 18.7 percent), and their average retail electric price in 2018 was 51 percent higher than the retail price in Pennsylvania.
“Further, if Pennsylvania were to join RGGI or develop a cap and tax program, it will also prop up fossil fuel electric power generation in other states, like Ohio and West Virginia. 
“Electric power generators in Ohio, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania all generate a significant amount of electricity and compete against each other in the PJM RTO. 
“In fact, based on data supplied by PJM at the end of 2018, generators in Pennsylvania, Ohio, and West Virginia accounted for 45 percent of the installed capacity available in PJM. 
“As such, all fossil fuel generation in Pennsylvania, including natural gas, would be placed at a competitive disadvantage to similar units in Ohio and West Virginia, which do not have a tax, as baseload power would still be needed for a reliable and resistant grid. 
“This scenario, referred to as leakage, leads to non-participating RGGI states emitting more carbon from their electric generating units as they increase generation to meet demand, and make up for Pennsylvania's lost generation. 
“This is precisely why former PA DEP Secretary Katie McGinty [under Gov. Rendell] concluded that RGGI was not a good fit for Pennsylvania. 
“And, further complicating the "leakage" of carbon emissions,is the fact that Ohio and West Virginia do not participate in the Ozone Transport Region, so their fossil fuel generating units have less stringent emission controls than those in Pennsylvania, which may increase actual pollutants like particulate matter (PM 2.5), nitrogen oxides (NOx), and sulfur dioxide (SO2).
“The Pennsylvania Coal Alliance recently commissioned a study from Energy Ventures Analysis to look at the practical impact implementing RGGI in Pennsylvania would have on the five remaining coal-fired electric generating units in our state. 
“While the study pointed to a certain decline and closure of coal-fired generation units in PA, the study also determined that "PJM generators in nearby states that do not participate in RGGI will gain an advantage over Pennsylvania generators..." and " ...coal plant revenues in Ohio and West Virginia will increase by an average of $320 million per year as dispatch shifts from RGGI to its non-RGGI neighbors."
“RGGI is not about reducing carbon. It is about money, and only the General Assembly has a constitutional role to consider the risks and potential benefits associated with any tax. 
“The PCA applauds the efforts of Representative Struzzi, Oberlander, Snyder and the 56 other sponsors of House Bill 2025 who recognize the General Assembly's exclusive role in major tax policy initiatives and in the implementation of a program with so many far-reaching consequences.”
Additional testimony was submitted to the Committee by Chuck Knisell, United Mine Workers of America, District Two.
For more information on RGGI, visit DEP’s Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative webpage.  Click Here for a copy of DEP’s draft RGGI regulation.
Reaction To Hearing
Keystone Energy Efficiency Alliance Policy Director Jlian Boggs, issued this statement following the House Committee hearing--
"As a trade association representing nearly 70 companies engaged in the energy efficiency industry, KEEA welcomes RGGI as an important, market-based tool to drive investment into energy efficiency, help Pennsylvania businesses and households save on their energy bills, and grow our energy efficiency workforce."
“On October 3, 2019, Governor Wolf issued an Executive Order initiating the process to have Pennsylvania join the program. Across the nine states that currently participate in RGGI, more than half of the proceeds from carbon pricing is invested in energy efficiency programs that help customers save on energy bills and further reduce carbon pollution. 
"RGGI’s investments in energy efficiency and clean energy in the nine states currently participating in RGGI have already generated over $4 billion in economic benefit. It's time we see those benefits right here in Pennsylvania," said Boggs. 
Other Committee Activity On Climate
The House Environmental Committee has held other 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, and a hearing in October pitting climate skeptics and deniers against most of the scientific community..
On January 16, Rep. Daryl Metcalfe (R-Butler), Majority Chair, House Environmental Resources and Energy Committee, sent a letter to the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative Executive Committee saying Pennsylvania has a “rogue Governor” who lacks the authority to make Pennsylvania part of the RGGI initiative without legislative approval.  Click Here for more.
Background On House Bill 2025
The operative language in House Bill 2025 reads--  “Prohibition.— Except for a measure that is required by Federal law, the department may not adopt a measure or take any other action that is designed to abate, control or limit carbon dioxide emissions, including an action to join or participate in a State or regional greenhouse gas cap-and-trade program, including the RGGI, nor may the department establish a greenhouse gas cap-and-trade program, unless the General Assembly specifically authorizes such a measure or action by statute that is enacted on or after the effective date of this section.”
The legislation 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.
On January 31, DEP announced it would be unveiling 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.
The language would also preclude another Gov. Wolf climate initiative-- his announced intention to be part of developing the Northeast Regional Transportation and Climate Initiative that would establish a regional cap-and-trade greenhouse gas reduction program covering vehicle fuels. Click Here for more.
The Senate Transportation and Environmental Committee held a joint hearing January 29 on the Transportation and Climate Initiative.  Click Here for more.
On February 3, DEP Secretary Patrick McDonnell told the Joint Legislative Air and Water Pollution Control and Conservation Committee coal waste-fired power plants will not incur significant compliance costs under DEP’s draft Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative regulationsClick Here for more.
Rep. Daryl Metcalfe (R-Butler) serves as Majority Chair of the House Environmental Committee and can be contacted by calling 717-783-1707 or sending email to: Rep. Greg Vitali (D-Delaware) serves as Minority Chair and can be contacted by calling 717-787-7647 or sending email to:
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[Posted: February 7, 2020]  PA Environment Digest

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