Friday, June 4, 2021

Sen. Comitta To Introduce Bill Investing RGGI Proceeds In Helping Communities & Workers In Clean Energy Transition, Environmental Justice Areas, Promote Energy Efficiency

On June 4,
Sen. Carolyn Comitta (D-Chester), Minority Chair of the Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee, announced plans to introduce legislation to invest the proceeds from the proposed Carbon Pollution Reduction Program covering power plants (RGGI) in efforts to help communities and workers during the transition to clean energy, environmental justice areas and other initiatives.

“A climate crisis is happening before our eyes. It is caused by human activity and carbon emissions.  Every day, its impacts grow more severe. Every day, the need to act quickly and effectively grows more urgent,” said Sen. Comitta.

“According to Pennsylvania’s recently released 2021 Climate Impacts Assessment, average annual temperatures in the commonwealth will rise by 5.9°F by the middle of the century, with significant implications for public health, environmental justice and equity, our agriculture, recreation, and tourism industries, and the infrastructure we all depend on,” Sen. Comitta explained.

“Meanwhile, over the past decade, more than a dozen coal-fired power plants have closed in Pennsylvania, due to the shifting economics of energy, and a rapid movement to less expensive natural gas generation,” said Sen. Comitta. “That shift has left communities across the state grappling with lost tax revenue and unemployment, and limited resources to promote new economic development or provide workforce training and support.”

She said to address these challenges, she is inviting her Senate colleagues to co-sponsor legislation to invest the proceeds from the proposed Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) program. 

“This legislation makes targeted investments to support environmental justice communities, workers affected by energy transition, and Pennsylvania’s growing clean energy and commercial and industrial sectors,” said Sen. Comitta.

The legislation will establish several funds to disburse the estimated $300 million or more in annual revenue generated through future RGGI auctions--

-- 37.5 percent to the Energy Communities Trust Fund; 

-- 12.5 percent  to the Environmental Justice Communities Trust Fund;

-- 46 percent to the Clean Air Fund divided as follows-- 

     -- 56 percent to the Greenhouse Gas Abatement, Energy Efficiency, and Clean and Renewable Energy Investments Account

     -- 44 percent to the Commercial and Industrial Energy Efficiency Account; 

     -- 4 percent for administration of the program.

The Energy Communities Trust Fund will provide direct support to dislocated workers and communities experiencing impacts from the closure of existing power plants and the loss of jobs and investment. 

A trust fund board made up of representatives from the executive branch, General Assembly, organized labor, and the state workforce development board.

The Environmental Justice Trust Fund will make investments in Environmental Justice communities across the commonwealth that are disproportionately at risk from climate impacts. 

The trust fund board will similarly be composed of representatives from the executive branch and legislature, as well as nominees made by DEP’s Environmental Justice Advisory Board.

Funding from the Greenhouse Gas Abatement, Energy Efficiency, Clean and Renewable Energy Investments Account will support investments in carbon capture utilization and storage, abandoned oil and gas well plugging, energy efficiency, transportation, climate-smart farming practices, forest stewardship, and clean and renewable energy investments, including biomass, geothermal, hydropower, energy storage, and solar and wind technologies, all of which will help drive in-state investment and job creation.

Finally, revenue will be dedicated to employers in Pennsylvania’s industrial and commercial sector to help reduce their greenhouse gas emissions through investments in process electrification, fuel switching, combined heat and power, demand response and reduction, energy efficiency, and carbon capture utilization and storage.

"By making these targeted investments, we can both address the existential threat of climate change while also ensuring that all Pennsylvanians – from communities that form the backbone of our traditional energy economy to those currently bearing the brunt of health and safety risks associated with pollution and climate change – aren’t left behind in the transition,” said Sen. Comitta.

“Climate change is here. The science is clear. The economic realities are clear. The risks of inaction are dire.”

Click Here for a copy of the co-sponsor memo.

For more information on RGGI, visit DEP’s Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative webpage.


Ohio River Valley Institute: Answering The Hardest Question Asked By Workers And Communities That Feel Threatened By Energy Transition 

Ohio River Valley Institute: Jobs And Equitable Transition: Bridging The Chasm Between Rhetoric And Action

Related Articles:

-- House Committee Meets June 8 On Bill To Take Away DEP’s Authority To Adopt Carbon Pollution Reduction Programs

-- House Environmental Committee Hearing June 22 On Pennsylvania CO2 And Climate

-- DEP Citizens Advisory Council To Hear About Energy Storage, Climate Change Impacts, Clean Energy Workforce Needs June 15 

-- 4 DEP Advisory Committees Express Their Support For DEP’s Final Carbon Pollution Reduction Regulation Covering Power Plants [RGGI]

-- PJM Successfully Clears Capacity Auction To Ensure Reliable Power Supply; Renewables, Nuclear, Natural Gas Saw Greatest Increases, Coal Saw Largest Decrease

-- The Hershey Company Releases 2020 Sustainability Report 

-- Eco-Friendly Process To Convert Carbon Dioxide Back Into Fuel Offers Way To Close The Carbon Loop 

[Posted: June 4, 2021]  PA Environment Digest

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