Friday, April 8, 2022

DEP Appeals Commonwealth Court Order Blocking Publication Of Final RGGI Regulation

On April 7, the Department of Environmental Protection appealed the April 6 Commonwealth Court order blocking publication of the final regulation establishing a Carbon Pollution Reduction Program covering power plants consistent with the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative to the PA Supreme Court.

The question presented to the PA Supreme Court for review is “Did the Commonwealth Court err as a matter of law in issuing an injunction, without argument or a hearing, enjoining and restraining the LRB’s publication of the RGGI Regulation, a ministerial duty mandated by statute?”

Click Here for a copy of the appeal.

The April 6 Commonwealth Court order was in response to lawsuits filed by Senate Republicans 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 Department of Environmental Protection also 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.

No Veto Override

On April 4, the Senate failed by one vote-- 32 to 17-- to get the two-thirds vote required by the state constitution to override Gov. Wolf’s veto of Senate Regulatory Resolution #1 that blocks the final DEP regulation.  Read more here.

The failed vote ends the veto override attempt on the resolution.

The arguments used for and against the resolution were the same familiar and often repeated comments on the economic and environmental impacts heard on the regulation since the concept was first suggested in 2019 by Gov. Wolf.  Read more here.

Senate Republicans also failed again to suggest any alternative to RGGI to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from power plants or to help workers and communities caught in the market-driven clean energy transition.  Read more here.

The new wrinkle was an attempt by the natural gas industry and their politicians to promote their agenda to lock Pennsylvania consumers more firmly into foreign energy markets and demand that sets the price we pay for natural gas and oil-- with no limit-- regardless of how much we drill.  Read more here.

As national and international media have reported repeatedly from the oil/natural gas companies themselves and investors-- “The fracking revolution revived the energy industry in Texas and the U.S., ushering in years of cheap oil and gas. But don’t count on frackers riding to the rescue this time.”  Read more here.

House Legislation?

The Senate, however, now has the opportunity to take action on House Bill 637 (Struzzi-R-Indiana) that would also block the RGGI, but it also includes a one-time allocation from the federal American Rescue Plan funding to address, somewhat, worker, community and clean energy issues--

-- $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.

House Bill 637 is now in the Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee which had a meeting scheduled for April 6, but did not take up the bill.

Both the Senate and House are in voting session April 11, 12 and 13.


-- AP:  Commonwealth Court Blocks Publication Of DEP RGGI Regulation [Can Be Appealed]

-- StateImpactPA - Rachel McDevitt: Commonwealth Court Pauses PA’s Effort To Enact RGGI Rule

--PA Capital-Star: State Court Blocks PA Carbon Pricing Scheme For Power Generators

-- Post-Gazette - Laura Legere: Gov. Wolf’s Climate Rule Survives Veto Override Attempt In PA Senate; Court Sets May 4 Hearing On Republican Lawsuit To Block Rule

-- AP: Republican-Controlled PA Senate Fails To Override Key Element Of Gov. Wolf’s Climate Plan

-- PennLive - Charles Thompson: Plan To Wean PA Power Plants Off Fossil Fuels Survives PA Senate Override Test

-- Republican Rep. Mehaffie Proposing Bill To Use RGGI Proceeds To Support Development Of Small Modular Nuclear Reactors

Related Articles:

-- PEC Blog: Pennsylvania Power Plant Greenhouse Gas Emissions Increased 9.6% In 2021 

-- 6th Oil/Natural Gas Shock: ‘Drillers Continue To Return Cash To Shareholders… Rather Than Boost Production’

-- Quarterly Report: DEP Issued 77 Notices Of Violations To Conventional Drillers, 8 To Shale Gas Drillers For Attempting To Abandon Wells Without Plugging Them    

[“Warning: The average person is likely to be shocked at the number and extent of the violations documented by DEP day in and day out.”]

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

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

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

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

[Posted: April 8, 2022]  PA Environment Digest

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