On December 15, the Clean Power PA Coalition announced of the nearly 500 speakers at ten public hearing sessions on the Environmental Quality Board's proposed regulation limiting carbon pollution from power plants, over 95 percent supported the proposal.
“After more than 30 hours of important, open public comment time for Pennsylvanians to express their thoughts on the state’s plan to link to the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), public sentiment is clear and overwhelming: Over ninety-five percent of the nearly 500 speakers at 10 public hearings over the last week expressed their support for Pennsylvania to participate in RGGI.
“The EQB’s virtual hearings provided a safe and convenient opportunity for Pennsylvanians to make their voices heard on this important program to cut pollution and create jobs.
“Hundreds of people, including business people, faith leaders, conservationists, farmers, climate experts, health professionals, frontline community leaders, and legislators and other elected officials testified in support of RGGI.
“RGGI is a market-based collaboration among 10 Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states to reduce greenhouse gas emissions while generating economic growth. The proposal from the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) limits harmful carbon pollution from power plants.
“Companies operating polluting plants must purchase carbon dioxide allowances equal to the amount of pollution they emit. The revenue from the purchase of these allowances is made available for reinvestment in clean energy and other uses to create Pennsylvania jobs and further improve air quality.
“The DEP estimates that from 2022 to 2030, RGGI would lead to an increase in the Gross State Product of nearly $2 billion and a net increase of over 27,000 in-state jobs.
“The convenient, remote hearings allowed Pennsylvanians from across the entire state to have their voices heard online or over the telephone, without having to travel to attend in-person hearings. Pennsylvanians also have the flexibility, between now and January 14th, to submit written comments on the proposal before the EQB makes their final recommendation.”
Some Of The Comments Offered
“For farmers, the realities of our changing climate are undeniable, and seem worse with each new season. Extremes are continually becoming more extreme. Annual precipitation is coming in fewer, heavier, events. Planting and harvesting seasons are shifting. Pest populations affecting both crops and livestock are exploding, and our ability to produce the food that feeds Pennsylvanians is being challenged —just when we need it most. RGGI is an important step toward the ultimate end goal of mitigating the climate changes already threatening our food supply.” -- Michael S Kovach, livestock farmer from South Pymatuning Township, Mercer County, and Vice President/Policy Director for Pennsylvania Farmers Union.
“A CO2 Budget Trading Program under the auspices of the RGGI would be an ideal and logical place to incorporate and help fund practices that improve soils and retain more soil carbon, like no-till, cover crops and rotational grazing . . . And since CO2 trading proceeds are invested in energy efficiency, renewable energy, and other consumer benefit programs, farms stand to have the co-benefit of green infrastructure that improves their bottom line. Fortunately, agriculture provides a diverse menu of options for investment like renewable energy deployment, soil carbon storage, plant carbon storage, fleet/equipment electrification, and building energy efficiency. . . RGGI itself may only be a first step in the direction we must head to ensure a secure food system, but it’s a good option and we have to get started.” -- Hannah Smith-Brubaker, family produce and livestock farmer and executive director, Pasa
Sustainable Agriculture, a 7,500 member Pennsylvania-based farming organization, Mifflintown, Juniata County.
-- Faith Leaders
“RGGI is not only a crucial step in the fight against the climate crisis, it is also an incredible economic and health opportunity for PA. It can become a meaningful engine of environmental and economic justice in our great state.”-- Allen Drew, Commissioned Pastor in the Christian Reformed Church, North America, Philadelphia.
“Pennsylvania holds the inauspicious claim of having the third most air pollution-related deaths in the U.S., after California and New York. . . For over a century, the fossil fuel industry has received help from a dishonest measurement of costs. They have privatized the profits while much of the cost has been borne in the lungs, hearts, minds, and even lives of our children. . . This rebuilding of a brighter, cleaner, healthy America cannot happen if we continue to subsidize fossil fuels using market failures. RGGI is a policy that simply corrects market failures and allows ‘honest scales’ for a fair and just market.” -- Rev. Mitch Hescox, President/C.E.O. of The Evangelical Environmental Network
-- Elected Officials
"The economies and quality of life in Indiana Borough and Indiana County have long been tied to coal. However, as automation replaces miners and powerplant workers, energy industry jobs have declined. Like much of western PA, Indiana is struggling with unemployment, a decreased tax base and poverty. RGGI can help to solve those problems by creating jobs, job training programs and providing tax revenue the state can use to support coal country."-- Jonathan Warnock, Councilmember, Borough of Indiana and Associate Professor of Geoscience at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, Indiana County
“Around the nation and in Pennsylvania, coal plants are retiring or converting to natural gas. This affects local workers, communities, and businesses. However, RGGI presents an unparalleled opportunity for the legislature to direct funds to these workers and communities to help transition to a clean energy economy. . . Pennsylvania has begun adding renewable energy sources like wind and solar, which is an important step in the right direction. However, Pennsylvania’s policies still favor dirty electricity sources over clean ones like wind, solar and nuclear power.”-- Joel Hicks, Carlisle Borough Councilman, Cumberland County
“Thank you for listening to this input from POWER and other equity groups and scheduling these public comments in a way that supports the participation of working people: having known time slots for speaking, having morning/afternoon and evening sessions and prioritizing diversity of speakers.… RGGI is an enormous opportunity to reduce the destructive effects of carbon while investing in a regenerative economy future. Let’s make a plan featuring justice from the ground up.” -- Bishop Dwayne Royster, Interim Executive Director, POWER Interfaith
“RGGI can redress environmental harms that low-income, immigrant, Black, Latinx, Indigenous, and other communities of color have faced, and continue to face.”-- Dieynabou Barry, Partnership for Working Families
-- Business Leaders
“Participating RGGI states have invested over half their proceeds into energy efficiency, generating over $4 billion in economic benefits. These benefits have taken the form of new jobs, customer utility bill savings, and public-private investment.” -- Andy Frank, Founder and President of Sealed, a home efficiency and improvement business
“Pennsylvanians have been told that energy cost is a zero sum game, and that RGGI will only make energy more expensive for us. The reality is that this money can be used to create low income and small business energy efficiency programs, at a time when so many could use this relief. Efficiency and renewables programs can be created that will lead to economies of scale and predictability in the near term, which then will attract investment from energy and renewables companies, which will then create more green jobs.” -- Marc Mondor, architect, Principal and Cofounder of evolveEA, a green building and sustainability consulting and design firm, Pittsburgh
“DEP has done analysis to show that RGGI will lead to similar benefits for Pennsylvania,
conservatively adding $2 billion to the State economy from 2022-2030 and helping create
27,000 good-paying jobs.” -- Steven Krug, Architect and Engineer, Krug Architects, West Chester
“Our business leaders in Pennsylvania recognize that investing in energy efficiency is the largest, most reliable job creator among all energy sectors. By 2030, RGGI could create 27,000 jobs and $1.9 billion in gross state product in the state, and these are the jobs that will be the core of Pennsylvania’s energy economy in 10 years. Once Pennsylvania officially joins RGGI, energy efficiency workers will be in increasing demand to build, install, monitor, repair, and improve equipment. These jobs offer a higher-than-average salary and cannot be outsourced.” -- Liz Fairchild, Executive Director, Business Forward
“There are many environmental and public health arguments for participating in RGGI . . . but there is also a very strong business case. As investors, we see implementing this carbon market program as the financially prudent thing to do. RGGI’s cap and invest program is a proven, cost-effective and flexible way to internalize the existential costs from carbon to our economy and society. . . As an investment business based in Pennsylvania, with a significant number of clients in Pennsylvania, we at Friends Fiduciary believe that joining RGGI is a financially prudent way to protect the long term health of our communities and further strengthen our state’s economy.-- Kate Monahan, Shareholder Engagement Manager, Friends Fiduciary Corporation, Monroe County, PA.
"...advocates of a clean energy future are often left talking hypothetically about what might someday happen rather than concretely showing what is actually possible in the present. As a leader in sustainable community development in Beaver County, I need to be able to stop talking in the abstract about the future and begin demonstrating what it looks like to bring that future to life in the present. Of course, doing so requires financial resources. And I believe that if properly implemented, RGGI can provide many of the resources required to move toward a sustainable vision for our region." -- Daniel Rossi-Keen, PhD, Executive Director of Riverwise, Beaver County
-- Environmental/Public Policy
“The breadth and depth of interest in these public hearings makes clear that Pennsylvanians want action on climate, and they want it now. The citizens of the commonwealth are raising their voices in support of RGGI, which will allow Pennsylvania to fight climate and air pollution while we rebuild better with cleaner, 21st century jobs. As we turn the page on 2020, getting the RGGI rulemaking to the finish line in 2021 can ensure that Pennsylvania continues to lead on climate action, readies itself for the clean energy future and delivers the clean jobs that come with it.”-- Mandy Warner, Director, Climate & Clean Air Policy at Environmental Defense Fund.
“There have been numerous studies of RGGI’s impact and all of them demonstrate the program’s record of success for the nine participating states. These studies show the program has not only dramatically reduced carbon emissions, but has also reduced harmful criteria pollutants, created an estimated 14,000 job-years and $1.4 billion in value, and saved $2.5 billion in electricity bills.” -- Christine Knapp, Director, Office of Sustainability, City of Philadelphia
"The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative is a time-tested, commonsense program with a long track record of success. As the fourth largest greenhouse gas emitter in the country, it is Pennsylvania’s duty to start lowering our carbon pollution and cleaning up our air. RGGI is a step we can, and should, take today towards ensuring that all Pennsylvanians have a safe, livable climate to call home for generations to come."-- Flora Cardoni, Field Director with PennEnvironment.
"The League of Women Voters played a significant, primary role leading to the adoption of Article 1, Section 27 [the PA Constitution’s Environmental Rights Amendment]. The League strongly supports actions that advance the Commonwealth toward these rights. To that end, it is time for Pennsylvania to adopt a proven program to reduce carbon pollution, to create thousands of jobs and to join the bipartisan Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, or RGGI . . . RGGI is the market based, job creating, proven tool for Pennsylvania to tackle the problems that climate change presents and to tackle the obligation of providing all Pennsylvanians with the Constitutionally guaranteed right to clean air."-- Donald Naragon, PhD, Vice President, League of Women Voters of Pennsylvania, Franklin Park, Allegheny County
"...we at Hazelwood Initiative, Inc. request that the funds earned from RGGI be used to help workers transition to green jobs and to help legacy communities like ours be set to rights. The impact of joining the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative will be that much greater if the funds are used to help communities like Hazelwood to purchase solar panels, train residents in solar panel marketing and installation, and lower our carbon footprint through home energy efficiency upgrades."-- Tiffany Taulton, Hazelwood Initiative, Inc., Pittsburgh
“I'd like to thank the DEP for hosting an accessible, convenient, and seamless virtual public hearing process … In a September 2020 poll, 72 percent of Pennsylvania voters supported the state’s participation in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative. To date, RGGI has been successfully implemented in red, blue and purple states. That matters – citizens want action on climate and RGGI is a real, tangible way to achieve that objective while protecting public health now and ensuring a cleaner, safer environment for future generations.” -- Hannah Enderby, native Pennsylvanian and student at Duquesne University.
“I was preschool-aged when I had my first asthma attack. It was scary. I vividly remember the panic in my mother’s eyes as she tried to get me to calm down so I wouldn’t pass out. I ended up going to the ER. . . Pennsylvania is one of the most polluted states in the country. So my living here hasn’t helped my condition. . . Even though my family is here, and I think Pittsburgh is a wonderful city, I don’t want to live here anymore because of the poor air quality. I don’t want to raise children here either. I have twin sisters who also have asthma. My grandmother moved here from Florida to help my mom take care of us, and now she has breathing problems . . . If you act now, you can improve the lives of so many people and those yet to be born here. You can make sure that fewer parents have to watch their children gasp for breath or spend sleepless nights making sure they get all their breathing treatments. You can keep more people healthy and safe and wanting to live here. Needless to say, I support RGGI.” -- Hannah Jones, college student, Pittsburgh.
“Thank you for listening to my testimony and I want to give further thanks to the DEP for holding these hearings virtually and allowing people across Pennsylvania to deliver their testimony safely during this pandemic...The US Department of Agriculture reports U.S. farmers were prevented from planting on 20 million acres in 2019, mainly due to heavy rainfall and flooding. The cost of curbing climate change now is dwarfed by the costs incurred by ignoring it.” -- Ethan Field, engineer, Lewisburg, Union County.
“We need to do the right thing for the planet, for the people, for the economy, and for our childrens’ futures. Join RGGI, cut pollution, leave carbon in the ground, create jobs, and preserve our environment.”-- Dane Winkler, Butler County.
-- Public Health
“One week ago, The Lancet published their findings of the impact climate change has had on human health over the last twenty years.1 Among the findings were increased heat-related deaths, increased prevalence of natural disasters, increased human exposure to wildfires, and increased suitability for transmission of infectious diseases. The people suffering these impacts are my future patients. It is therefore my responsibility to counsel them about the risks that climate change poses to their health and to future generations. . . To deal with these life-threatening health impacts, I support the Department of Environmental Protection’s proposed standard to Join the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) and cut carbon pollution, with the co-benefit of other pollutants, from electric power generation.” -- Andrew Schumacher, Medical Students for a Sustainable Future (MS4SF) and Young Evangelicals for Climate Action, Philadelphia.
“There is so much that I could say about the impacts of pollution and climate change on the lives of my pediatric patients, on the lives of my family and friends, and on my own life. I care for patients with asthma and other illnesses that are caused by or exacerbated by air pollution. I have loved ones whose lives have been upended by natural disasters.”-- Dr. Liz Lowenthal, pediatrician/epidemiologist.
Read Comments Submitted
Click Here to read comments submitted online via DEP’s eComment webpage. 1,158 comments have been submitted as of December 15.
Submitting Public Comments
Comments may be submitted in several ways by the January 14 deadline-- through DEP’s eComment webpage; by sending email to: RegComments@pa.gov; and by mail to: Environmental Quality Board, P.O. Box 8477, Harrisburg, PA 17105-8477.
The proposal will also be reviewed by Senate and House environmental committees and the Independent Regulatory Review Commission.
Other background documents available on the proposal include--
-- Regulatory Analysis Form (PDF)
-- CO2 Budget Unit Application (PDF)
Visit DEP’s Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative webpage to learn more about the proposal.PA Environment Digest