Thursday, March 31, 2022

House Passes Bill To Block RGGI Regulation - Again; Senate Republicans File Lawsuit

On March 30, the House voted 126 to 72 to pass
House Bill 637 (Struzzi-R-Indiana) designed to block the final DEP regulation establishing a Carbon Pollution Reduction Program covering power plants that’s consistent with the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative.

The vote total is not enough to override a Governor’s veto, which happened to a similar bill in 2020.  Read more here.

This House Bill, however, is different from the 2020 legislation because House Republicans amended it to include a one-time allocation from federal American Rescue Plan funding--

-- $125 million for research, development, construction or site development of carbon dioxide and methane reduction technologies, including carbon capture, micro-grid nuclear power plants, sequestration and hydrogen fuel projects.   At least $12.5 million is to be used for methane abatement projects from plugging abandoned gas wells.

-- $62.5 million for sewer and water infrastructure and stormwater mitigation, including riparian planting for carbon dioxide reduction, stream buffering and streambank restoration.

-- $62.5 million for assisting workers and communities impacted by electric generation or manufacturing plant closures, including training projects, extended unemployment benefits and investments in projects to redevelop the closed plant sites.

The new language is an attempt to attract some Democrats to vote for the bill, but the vote on House Bill 2025 in 2020 was about the same-- 130 to 71.

The House chose not to move a companion bill they also had on the Calendar-- Senate Bill 119 (Pittman-R- Indiana), but which does not include the one-time funding.  

The bill was reported out of the House Environmental Resources and Energy Committee and then referred to House Appropriations without changes.  Read more here.

Senate Republican Lawsuit

On March 29, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported Senate Republicans filed a petition with Commonwealth Court asking for an injunction to block publication of the regulations in the PA Bulletin so they would not go into effect.  Read more here.

On February 3, the Associated Press reported the Department of Environmental Protection filed a lawsuit in Commonwealth Court to compel the publication of the final regulations in the PA Bulletin so they would become effective.  Read more here.

This lawsuit is still pending.

Veto Override

There has not yet been an attempt to override Gov. Wolf’s January 10 veto of Senate Concurrent Regulatory Review Resolution 1 passed by the Senate and House that would have blocked publication of the final regulations under the Regulatory Review Act.  Read more here.

One of the stated reasons Gov. Wolf vetoed the resolution was that the House did not take action on the original measure within the deadlines established by the Regulatory Review Act, so that will be a point of dispute if this action is taken to court..

The resolution has been Tabled in the Senate and House since January 18.  

A veto override attempt must be made in the Senate by no later than April 5, according to provisions in the Regulatory Review Act. The Senate is scheduled to be in session the week of April 4.

If successful in the Senate-- which it will probably be-- the veto attempt then moves to the House which has interpreted the law to mean it has 10 legislative days or 30 calendar days to act, whichever is longer-- although the deadlines may be in dispute.

A veto override is thought to be less likely in the House.

Senate Joint Hearing

On March 29, the Senate Environmental Resources and Energy and Community, Economic and Recreation Development Committees heard very familiar and often repeated pro/con comments on the economic and environmental impacts of the final Carbon Pollution Reduction regulation.  Read more here.

Some sparks did fly at the hearing when Sen. John Yudichak (I-Luzerne), who Senate Republicans appointed as Majority Chair of the Senate Community, Economic and Recreational Development Committee, called opponents of natural gas infrastructure projects “radical environmentalists” and arguments by supporters of the RGGI carbon pollution reduction regulations covering power plants “hysteria.”  Read more here.

Sen. Yudichak’s remarks came a day after the Republican Chair of the House Environmental Committee Rep. Daryl Metcalfe (R-Butler) said opponents of natural gas infrastructure projects “just need to be ignored and politically ran over.”  Read more here.

Visit DEP’s Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative webpage for more information on the final regulations.


-- StateImpactPA - Rachel McDevitt: House Republicans Move To Block PA From RGGI Climate Program, Offer One-Time Federal Money Instead

-- Post-Gazette - Laura Legere: Republican Senators File For Injunction To Block Gov. Wolf’s Carbon Pollution Cutting Plan For Power Plants - RGGI

-- League Of Conservation Voters: 43 PA Conservation, Faith, Business, Environmental Groups Oppose House, Senate Bills To Kill RGGI 

-- PA Capital-Star Guest Essay: RGGI Carbon Credit Opponents Play Cynical Games With Dangerous Costs - Clean Air Council

-- PennLive Letter: Pennsylvanians Support Caps On Power Plant Pollution - PA League Of Women Voters

-- Inquirer Guest Essay: Investing In Clean Energy Will Add Over 126,000 Jobs In PA - Keystone Research Center

Related Articles:

-- Senate Committees Hear Familiar Pro/Con Comments On Economic, Environmental Impacts Of EQB’s Final Carbon Pollution Reduction Program Covering Power Plants - RGGI  [PaEN]

-- Majority Chair Of Senate Committee Calls Opponents Of Natural Gas Infrastructure ‘Radical Environmentalists,’ Arguments By Of Supporters Of RGGI ‘Hysteria’  [PaEN]

-- Republicans On House Committee Move Bills To Unleash Natural Gas Industry In Pennsylvania, Kill RGGI  [PaEN]

-- Republican Chair Of House Environmental Committee Believes Opponents Of Natural Gas Infrastructure Projects ‘Just Need To Be Ignored And Politically Ran Over’  [PaEN]

[Posted: March 31, 2022]  PA Environment Digest

No comments :

Post a Comment

Subscribe To Receive Updates:

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner