Tuesday, November 21, 2023

Shapiro Administration Announces Appeal Of RGGI Rejection To PA Supreme Court To Preserve Authority For Future Governors

On November 21, the Shapiro Administration released this statement on its decision to appeal the
November 1 decision of Commonwealth Court declaring the DEP regulation limiting carbon pollution from power plants (RGGI) an “invalid tax" to the PA Supreme Court.

The statement said--

"The Commonwealth Court's decision on RGGI - put in place by the prior administration - was limited to questions of executive authority and our Administration must appeal in order to protect that important authority for this Administration and all future governors.

"The Governor stands ready and willing to implement the recommendations of the RGGI Working Group - and he would sign legislation replacing RGGI with a Pennsylvania-based or PJM-wid cap-and-invest programs, as they proposed.

"Should legislative leaders choose to engage in constructive dialogue, the Governor is confident we can agree on a strong alternative to RGGI - if they take their ball and go home, they will be making a choice not to advance commonsense energy policy that protects jobs, the environment, and consumers in Pennsylvania.

"We urge Republican and Democratic leadership to join us at the productive table the Governor has set with labor, environmental advocates, energy producers, and consumer advocates to further a commonsense energy policy that moves our Commonwealth forward.

"Now is the time for action, inaction is not an acceptable alternative."


The York County-based Evangelical Environmental Network issued this statement on the Shapiro Administration's decision to appeal the RGGI ruling--

“We at the Evangelical Environmental Network (EEN) and its policy partner EEN Action thank Governor Shapiro for taking the important step in moving toward a safe and healthy future for all generations by appealing the lower Commonwealth court’s decision regarding the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI). 

“In Mark 12, the Bible tells us to “love your neighbor as yourself.” This decision allows us to care for the health and wellbeing of our neighbors throughout the Commonwealth, especially our children.

“Over the last two years, over 80,000 pro-life evangelical Christians have urged Governor Shapiro to support Pennsylvania reaffirming its commitment to RGGI in comments delivered to the Governor by EEN and EEN Action. 

“According to 2020 polling, 72% of all Pennsylvanians support RGGI, particularly because RGGI will benefit the Commonwealth by creating thousands of family-sustaining careers and ensuring a safe and healthy future for generations to come. 

“While we support cap and trade in general, RGGI has a proven track record in 11 states in the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast regions and has brought billions in revenue to ensure a clean energy future for participating states. 

“Unfortunately, it is estimated that Pennsylvania has lost $1.5 billion from not being a part of RGGI since 2021. 

“Today’s announcement underscores the findings of the recent memorandum issued by the RGGI Working Group, commissioned by Governor Shapiro, that states, “Reducing greenhouse emissions is both necessary and inevitable, and a cap and investment carbon regulation for the power sector that generates revenue to support the Commonwealth’s energy transition would be the optimal approach.” 

“EEN and EEN Action are grateful for Governor Shapiro’s appeal of the lower court’s decision. We continue to pray that our Legislature will act to defend the lives and health of Pennsylvania’s children by joining forces with Governor Shapiro for policies that benefit all Pennsylvanians and make Pennsylvania the leader in a new energy future.”

The Moms Clean Air Force offered this comment on the appeal--

“The recently announced appeal of the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court’s decision on the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) is a win for families. 

“Cap and invest programs, like RGGI, were identified by the Governor’s RGGI Working Group as the best way to decrease greenhouse gas pollution and generate revenue, which can be used to equitably support the state’s energy transition. 

“Moms across Pennsylvania are thankful for the appeal of the Commonwealth Court’s decision,” Brooke Petry, Pennsylvania Field Organizer for Moms Clean Air Force stated. “This action is a step closer to protecting children’s health and the climate from the power sector's dirty air pollution. We should seize every opportunity to reduce carbon and the associated harmful air pollution from fossil-fuel fired power plants. Decreasing air pollution improves public health by reducing asthma attacks, heart disease, respiratory disease, diabetes, cancer and premature death. Environmental justice communities suffer disproportionately from pollution and climate change impacts making rules addressing climate change vital.  

“An analysis by the state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) indicates participation in RGGI will result in a reduction of up to 639 premature deaths from respiratory illnesses and 30,000 fewer hospital visits for respiratory illnesses like asthma for children. This is further supported by a first of its kind study that shows that by lowering harmful soot from power plants, RGGI has helped to avoid asthma attacks, preterm births, low birth weight, and more. The health benefits were quantified between $191 million and $350 million.”

“Pennsylvania is the third largest greenhouse gas polluting state and is home to the third dirtiest power sector in the nation,” Vanessa Lynch, Pennsylvania Field Organizer for Moms Clean Air Force shared. “Linking to a program such as RGGI is critical to protecting children’s health.

"We are all pleased this decision will be appealed. RGGI will decrease air pollution coming from power plants and make it easier for Pennsylvania's children to breathe clean air. As a mom, nothing could be more important–or worth fighting for."

Clean Air Council Executive Director and Chief Counsel, Joseph Otis Minott, Esq. issued the following statement:

“As the nation’s fourth largest emitter of carbon dioxide, Pennsylvania needs RGGI, an effective cap-and-invest program, to advance a commonsense energy plan that cuts climate pollution and ensures an equitable energy transition and the jobs that come with it. 

“The Governor’s appeal gives us a crucial chance to participate in this program and secure a clean energy economy for Pennsylvania. 

“The Governor’s diverse RGGI stakeholder group reached the consensus that such a cap and trade program for the power sector would be critical for generating the funds needed to support the state’s clean energy transition. 

“RGGI is the clear choice for meeting the working group’s goals and Governor Shapiro’s criteria of supporting climate action, clean energy job creation, public health protection, and energy affordability.”


-- AP: PA Governor Appeals Decision Blocking Plan To Make Power Plants Pay For Greenhouse Gases

-- Pittsburgh Business Times: Industry Groups Criticize Shapiro’s Decision To Appeal RGGI Case

-- The Center Square: State Appeals Carbon ‘Tax’ Decision [RGGI]

-- PA Capital-Star: Shapiro Says State Will Appeal Commonwealth Court’s RGGI Decision

-- City & State PA: Shapiro Administration Will Appeal Court Decision On RGGI

-- PennFuture Stands With Gov. Shapiro In Fight For Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative

-- City & State PA Guest Essay: To Save Our Climate, The Flight For RGGI Must Continue - By Joe Minott, Clean Air Council

Related Articles:

-- Commonwealth Court Declares RGGI ‘Invalid Tax’ And Enjoins DEP, EQB From Enforcing Its Provisions  [PaEN]

-- Gov. Shapiro’s Work Group Concludes A Cap-And-Invest Carbon Pollution Regulation Program Would Be Optimal Approach To Reducing Greenhouse Emissions From Power Plants; Scale Up Solar Energy [PaEN]

-- PA Oil & Gas Industry Compliance So Far In 2023 - It Isn’t Pretty [PaEN]

[Posted: November 21, 2023]  PA Environment Digest

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