Tuesday, July 13, 2021

Updated: EQB Approves Carbon Pollution Reduction Regulation Covering Power Plants

On July 13, the
Environmental Quality Board voted 15 to 4  to approve the final regulation establishing a Carbon Pollution Reduction Program covering power plants after an attempt at the beginning of the more than two hour long meeting to delay action by Republican legislators on the Board.

Rep. Daryl Metcalfe (R-Butler), Majority Chair of the House Environmental Resources and Energy Committee, and Sen. Gene Yaw (R-Lycoming), Majority Chair of the Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee made the motion to delay action.

The motion failed 15 to 4.

Rep. Metcalfe also made a series of other motions to delay action on the regulation.  The motions were similar to those he made to delay action on the regulation in September 2020.  Read more here. His motions included--

-- Motion to table the regulation until DEP holds in-person hearings in areas that will be impacted by the regulation.  Defeated 15 to 4

-- Motion to table the regulation for one year as recommended by comments from the Independent Regulatory Review Commission in order for public comments to be more properly considered.  [Note: The IRRC commissioners did not actually vote to approve those comments.].  Defeated 15 to 4.

-- Motion to table the regulation until the General Assembly is back in session in September so members can be more properly involved in the process.  Defeated 14 to 5.

-- Motion to table the regulation until DEP provides a written opinion on the issue of whether the “fee” that is part of the proposal is a “tax” which the EQB cannot legally adopt. Defeated 15 to 4. 

-- Motion to table the regulation until the EQB can hold a meeting when the public can physically attend the meeting. Defeated 15 to 4.

Both Rep. Metcalfe and Sen. Yaw made it clear they continue to oppose the Carbon Pollution Reduction Program. Rep. Metcalfe said the House will continue to move legislation to take away DEP’s authority to adopt the regulation when the General Assembly returns in September.

John St. Clair, a member of DEP’s Citizens Advisory Council on the Board from Indiana County where some of the affected coal-fired power plants are located, made a motion to table the regulation until the investment plan for funds generated by the program is available. Defeated 15 to 4.

EQB approval of the final regulation is just the first step in finalizing the regulation under the Regulatory Review Act which requires another review by the Independent Regulatory Review Commission and the Senate and House before it can become final.

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

For copies of available handouts and other related documents, visit the Environmental Quality Board meetings webpage.

House Environment Committee Meets

The House Environmental Resources and Energy Committee has scheduled a meeting for July 27 to consider a letter to the Independent Regulatory Review Commission urging them to disapprove of the regulation establishing the Carbon Pollution Reduction Program covering power plants.

The meeting will be held in Room G-50 of the Irvis Building starting at  9:00 a.m.  Click Here to watch live.

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: dmetcalf@pahousegop.com. Rep. Greg Vitali (D-Delaware) serves as Minority Chair and can be contacted by calling 717-787-7647 or sending email to: gvitali@pahouse.net.

Sen. Yaw

Sen. Gene Yaw (R-Lycoming), Majority Chair of the Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee, released this statement on the EQB action-- “RGGI is a superficial stab at addressing climate change. The proposal would work fine if we are going to put a bubble over Pennsylvania, but we are not. Pennsylvania has lowered its emissions to a greater extent than what the RGGI states have actually done – and we have done it on our own. According the PJM, difference in the savings with RGGI verses without RGGI is .0089%. We are driving employers out of Pennsylvania for minimal benefits to the environment. Additionally, we will see electric rate increases of 12% to 18%.” “Under RGGI, we are transferring part of our economy and part of our environmental protections to nine or 10 other states. I am not in favor of transferring anything. We can do things better on our own. I have more faith in Pennsylvanians doing things the right way and protecting the environment than what other states say we should do. “Energy will not be cheap and will not come from Pennsylvania. In fact, estimates show that 86% of the energy will not be coming from RGGI states. What’s the benefit to Pennsylvania? The benefit to Pennsylvania is nothing. All we have done is create jobs in West Virginia and Ohio. The bottom line is that this is going to cost thousands of Pennsylvania jobs. Whether boilermakers, construction trades or people who work in power plants, these jobs are not going to be replaced with jobs building windmills or solar panels. “We need a diverse energy portfolio. We need to look at the big picture. RGGI does not look at the big picture but rather targets a small part of energy production by targeting coal-fired plants. We need to have a bigger plan that considers all aspects of energy production including manufacturing, storage and recycling and disposal.” Click Here for the complete release.


PennFuture issued this statement on the EQB approval of the Carbon Pollution Reduction Program--

"The Environmental Quality Board’s vote to approve the final-form rule for a carbon reduction program in Pennsylvania is a significant milestone after years of climate inaction in Harrisburg,” said Rob Altenburg, PennFuture’s senior director for energy and climate. “The science is clear: to combat climate change we need to do everything we can to cut our carbon pollution—particularly from fossil fuel generation—and cooperating with other states participating in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) is currently our best chance to do that in a real, measurable, and cost-effective way. 

"Today’s vote will be applauded by a majority of Pennsylvanians who demand immediate action on climate change. Though some additional steps remain in this process, the rulemaking process is continuing to move forward and the program is on track to go into effect next year.

"PennFuture thanks the Environmental Quality Board for supporting such a robust and thorough rule, which was vetted during a public comment period that included hours of testimony from 449 people as well as 14,038 written comments — the vast majority of which supported the rule proceeding. 

"While this program is a significant step forward, more will need to be done to meet our climate goals. This program does not cover transportation emissions or industrial emissions, and it does little to address carbon pollution from generators burning waste coal.

"Regardless, we will continue to do our part to ensure that a carbon reduction program comes to Pennsylvania, and we will oppose any attempts to derail or delay this final rule from being implemented. Our shared climate and environment is at a tipping point and cannot be subjected to political games and partisanship any longer.”

Joseph Otis Minott, Esq., Executive Director and Chief Counsel of Clean Air Council, issued the following statement on the EQB action--

“We congratulate Governor Wolf and his administration for advancing the RGGI rulemaking one step closer to the finish line.  

“Today’s EQB vote, which follows four different advisory committee votes of approval in May, represents a major milestone in Pennsylvania’s efforts to combat climate change.  

“Pennsylvania participation in RGGI will yield significant benefits across the board: up to 227 million tons of carbon pollution reductions by 2030; billions of dollars in public health benefits; and hundreds of millions of dollars annually available for reinvestment in Pennsylvania’s environmental justice and frontline communities.  These investments can help improve housing quality, increase efficiency, and lower electricity bills, as well as further eliminate air pollution.

"After more than 21 months of public outreach and stakeholder engagement by DEP - including a lengthy public comment period that saw over 14,000 comments submitted, of which nearly 90% supported RGGI - Clean Air Council looks forward to the next step in the process: IRRC’s finding that this rulemaking is clearly in the public interest.”


-- Rachel McDevitt: Board Approves RGGI Rule, Moving PA A Step Closer To Joining Carbon Emissions Program

-- Laura Legere: Wolf’s Carbon-Cutting Plan For Power Plants Gets Key Approval

-- MCall/AP: Wolf’s PA Power Plant Carbon Pricing Plan Nears Finish Line

-- PA Cap-Star: State Regulatory Board Gives PA Greenlight To Join Regional Climate Cap-And-Trade Program

-- Rep. Metcalfe Names Wolf’s Minion EQB Members For Rubberstamping Job-Killing, Carbon Tax Imposing RGGI Scheme

-- DEP: EQB Adopts Final CO2 Budget Trading Program Rulemaking 15 To 4

Related Articles:

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

--Gov. Wolf: 2021 Climate Impacts Report Projects Pennsylvania Will Be 5.9° F Warmer by Midcentury, Precipitation To Increase, Targets Areas to Reduce Risk

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

--Senate Republicans Report Out Bill Taking Away DEP Authority To Reduce Carbon Pollution From Any Source, Including Power Plants

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

--Senate Republicans To Gov. Wolf: We Will Reject Any Nominees To PUC Until You Withdraw Your Executive Order Joining RGGI Carbon Pollution Reduction Program For Power Plants

[Posted: July 13, 2021]  PA Environment Digest

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