Thursday, January 23, 2020

Senate Transportation, Environmental Committees Hold Joint Hearing Jan. 29 On Regional Transportation Climate Initiative

On January 29, the Senate Transportation and Environmental Resources and Energy Committees are scheduled to hold a joint hearing on the impacts of the cap-and-invest program being developed by the northeast Transportation Climate Initiative to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from transportation fuels.
Individuals expected to offer comments include--
-- Patrick McDonnell, Secretary of DEP
-- Yassmin Gramian, P.E., Acting Secretary PennDOT
-- David Stevenson, Caesar Rodney Institute 
-- Kevin Sunday, PA Chamber of Business and Industry 
-- Drew Stilson, Environmental Defense Fund
-- Ted Leonard, PA AAA Federation
The hearing will be in Hearing Room 1 of the North Office building starting at 9:00 a.m.  Click Here to watch the hearing live.
On December 18, 2018, Gov. Wolf joined with eight other Northeast and Mid-Atlantic States and the District of Columbia to form the Transportation and Climate Initiative to design a new regional low-carbon transportation policy proposal.
In addition to Pennsylvania, the states include Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont and Virginia.
The Initiative was formed in-part because the transportation sector is responsible for more than 40 percent of climate-changing greenhouse gas emissions in the region, and soot and smog from cars and trucks are major contributors to lung disease and other health problems region-wide, particularly in low income communities.
In Pennsylvania, this initiative builds on several existing transportation-related emission reduction programs, including the Driving PA Forward clean transportation program funded by the Volkswagen settlement, the Alternative Fuels Incentive Grant/Rebate Programs, the PA Electric Vehicle Roadmap developed by the Drive Electric PA Coalition and initiatives like DCNR's effort to put electric vehicle charging stations in State Parks and PennDOT's public-private partnership initiative to install 29 CNG refueling stations around the state.
On October 1, 2019, the Regional Initiative put out a draft policy framework for public review establishing the goals for a regional transportation program.  The framework goals included-- 
-- Cap emissions of carbon dioxide from the combustion of the fossil component of finished motor gasoline and on-road diesel fuel in the region and then decline every year at a rate chosen by TCI jurisdictions to support their emissions reduction goals, and informed by analysis of the program’s impact.
-- Affected fuel would include fuel destined for final sale or consumption in a TCI jurisdiction, upon removal from a storage facility (i.e., a “terminal rack”) in the TCI jurisdiction, or, for fuel removed from a facility in another jurisdiction, upon delivery into the TCI jurisdiction. The TCI jurisdictions are evaluating whether and how to include and treat biofuels in the program.
-- State fuel suppliers would be the regulated entities under the proposed program and would be required to hold allowances to cover reported emissions. Owners and operators of fuel supply infrastructure (terminals, pipelines, distributors, etc.) may also have reporting or recordkeeping obligations.
-- Fuel suppliers would be required to report emissions to TCI jurisdictions, plus supporting information.
-- The program would incorporate allowance banking and multi-year compliance periods and include price-based mechanisms for cap flexibility and cost containment based on examples from RGGI and WCI (e.g. cost containment reserve, emissions containment reserve, minimum reserve price).
-- Each TCI jurisdiction has different transportation needs and unique authorities; therefore, each jurisdiction would independently decide how proceeds are invested to achieve carbon emission reductions and other policy goals—like improved air quality and more affordable access to transportation.
The Regional Initiative received more than 1,200 comments on the framework in written form and in public engagement sessions which they used to develop the next step of the project.
 On December 17, 2019, the Regional Initiative put a draft Memorandum of Understanding out for public review containing an outline of a cap-and-invest greenhouse gas reduction program for transportation fuels.  Comments are due by February 28.
The TCI jurisdictions conducted economic modeling to evaluate various options for a program that caps and reduces carbon dioxide pollution from combustion of gasoline and on-road diesel fuel by up to 25 percent compared to 2022 levels over 10 years.
Preliminary modeling estimates that by 2032, the proposed program could yield monetized annual public health benefits of as much as $10 billion, including over 1,000 fewer premature deaths, and over 1,300 fewer asthma symptoms annually region-wide, among other safety and health benefits.
The associated auction of pollution allowances under the proposal is projected to generate up to nearly $7 billion annually that participating jurisdictions could invest in solutions to further reduce pollution and to improve transportation choices for rural, urban and suburban communities.
Each participating jurisdiction would decide how to invest the auction proceeds to support TCI program goals.
In November, Senate and House Republicans announced legislation to take away DEP’s authority to adopt any program to reduce greenhouse gas emissions-- Senate Bill 950 (Pittman-R-Indiana) and House Bill 2025 (Struzzi-R-Indiana). Click Here for more.
Sen. Kim Ward (R-Westmoreland) serves as Majority Chair of the Senate Transportation Committee and can be contacted by calling 717-787-6063 or send email to:  Sen. John Sabatina (D-Philadelphia) serves as Minority Chair and can be contacted by calling 717-787-9608 or send email to:
Sen. Gene Yaw (R-Lycoming) serves as Majority Chair of the Senate Environmental Committee and can be contacted by calling 717-787-3280 or sending email to:   Sen. Steve Santarsiero (D-Bucks) serves as Minority Chair and can be contacted by calling 717-787-7305 or sending email to:
(Photo: Senators Ward and Yaw.)
Related Article:
Bay Journal: PA Sets Lofty Goals For Climate Action, But Can It Achieve Them?
[Posted: January 23, 2020]  PA Environment Digest

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