Friday, February 16, 2024

Sen. Comitta: Let's Work Together To Address Climate Change, But Stop Rehashing The Same Old Arguments Against RGGI That Are Not Protecting Our Planet And Our People

On Friday, February 2, Sen. Gene Yaw (R-Lycoming), Majority Chair of the Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee, introduced
Senate Bill 1058 to abrogate the final regulation reducing carbon pollution from power plants [RGGI].

In a press release, Sen. Yaw said, “For four years, Pennsylvania taxpayers have footed the bill for this unconstitutional, unilateral decision.  RGGI is wrong for Pennsylvania, and it is time to repeal this regulation and focus on putting forth commonsense, environmentally responsible energy policy that recognizes and champions Pennsylvania as an energy producer.”

“Not only would RGGI leave thousands struggling to pay their utility bills during a time of record inflation, but it would also have a detrimental impact on the reliability of our region’s already strained electric grid.

“There is more work to be done, but this legislation is an important component to ensuring energy reliability, sustainability, and affordability for Pennsylvania families and businesses.”

On Monday, February 5, the Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee met in the only Senate committee meeting without video coverage and voted along party lines-- Republicans supporting-- to report Senate Bill 1058 out of Committee to the Senate Calendar where it now waits for action.

While we don’t have a video record of the debate in Committee, Sen. Carolyn Comitta (D-Chester), who serves as Minority Chair of the Committee, read this statement into the record--

“Thank you, Senator Yaw.   I am opposed. 

“In one of my first meetings on this Committee, we voted on similar legislation.

“Over the past three years, we have spent an inordinate amount of time and energy on efforts to delay, obstruct, or stop RGGI – a carbon cap-and-invest program. 

“What we have not done is address climate change.

“Despite our differences of opinion, I respect all of my legislative colleagues on both sides of the aisle. It doesn’t add up.

“But to say things like “Pennsylvania residents and employers can no longer bear the weight of RGGI,” does not make sense. 

“How can we blame RGGI for anything when Pennsylvania is not yet even part of it? 

“Why should we take up this legislation when RGGI is currently before the courts? 

“We haven’t even given RGGI a chance. 

“And because of that, we’re missing out. 

“According to estimates from the Natural Resources Defense Council, Pennsylvania has missed out on more than $1.67 billion in RGGI proceeds over the past eight auctions. 

“We’ve lost a lot of money.   We’ve lost a lot of time. 

“And we’ve lost a significant opportunity to reduce the carbon emissions that are making the Climate Crisis worse every single day. 

“Now, I could read you the long list of all the stakeholder organizations that support RGGI and oppose this legislation. 

“I will spare you that because they haven’t changed from the last time we had this discussion. 

“But let’s put RGGI aside for a moment. 

“What have we done to address the Climate Crisis? 

“What have we done to reduce our emissions and protect environmental health?

-- “We could update our Alternative Energy Portfolio Standards and pass Community Solar (SB 230). 

-- “We could improve protections from the fracking industry, which according to multiple studies, negatively impacts our health. We have a whole package of legislation on that (SB 581 to increase setbacks). 

“I could go on and on, but the bottom line is we cannot blame RGGI for legislative inaction. 

“RGGI isn’t the problem for Pennsylvanians.   Climate Change is. 

“So let’s turn our collective legislative attention to addressing the existential crisis of our time – Climate Change. 

“That’s why I’m sitting here with you in the Senate today. 

“I’m here to do everything I can to protect our planet for the next generation – for my children and grandchildren, and yours. 

“If we can effectively begin to address Climate Change through RGGI, or another carbon cap-and-invest program as recommended by the Governor’s bipartisan RGGI working group, then let’s work together on that. 

“We can do it. We must do it. 

“But let’s stop rehashing the same old arguments that are not moving us forward to protect our planet and our people. 

“Let’s work together to address the real problem that is impacting our communities, our health and safety, our infrastructure, and our energy industry. 

“And that is Climate Change. 

“Thank you.  I ask for a no vote.”

October 2021

On October 4, 2021,  Sen. Comitta called for hearings on the failure of the Commonwealth to invest in the state's clean energy infrastructure.

She made the comments at a joint hearing of the Senate Community Development and Environmental Committees on the impacts to the economy and consumers of "failing to invest in Pennsylvania's natural gas infrastructure.”  Read more here.

Sen. Comitta said--

"I really appreciated the opportunity to hear all of the viewpoints today about our natural gas infrastructure and jobs.

"As I mentioned at the beginning of this hearing, it's so important, really crucial that we bring everyone to the table and that we hear what everyone has to say regarding both energy infrastructure, environmental protection and jobs. This is of course the only way we're going to make progress on all of these issues.

"We've all agreed that environmental health does not need to come at the cost of economic health, and vice versa.

"Several environmental organizations who were not invited to participate today have submitted testimony, and in order to benefit from these diverse viewpoints, I hope you will take a moment and read and review that testimony from the Clean Air Council, Penn Future and PennEnvironment.

"If we're going to take a whole, complete and honest picture of our energy policies, perhaps we should schedule a hearing on the Commonwealth's failures and opportunities to invest in our clean energy infrastructure.

"On the heels of the startling and recent Greenpeace report that exposed the lies perpetuated for decades by the world's largest fossil fuel companies and their central role in the climate crisis, also on the heels of Harvard and hundreds of other colleges and universities and global investment companies divesting billions of dollars in investments in fossil fuel companies, and on the heels of Pope Francis and a global interfaith coalition calling for governments and major investors to halt loans and investments in fossil fuel companies who are not showing a clear switch to clean energy production by 2023.

"On the heels of all these major economic and moral global shifts, let's get together soon and discuss how we can understand and eventually embrace these changes so we can make Pennsylvania a leader in the world's clean energy future, protecting family sustaining jobs, public health, and environmental health.

"At the [Senate Environmental] Committee hearing last week, PJM said, "Pennsylvania's energy is key to the PJM state's transition to a clean energy future." Pennsylvania is a net energy exporter. PJM reminded us that we have 140 percent of the energy we need to power Pennsylvania.

"That being said, it would be very helpful to have a discussion about the role of Pennsylvania's natural gas industry and the PJM region's transition to clean energy, a transition that is already happening.

"The production of energy is shifting rapidly toward clean energy not because of RGGI [Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative] or the radical environmental left.

“It's happening because of economic drivers and the moral climate crisis we face.

"I believe Pennsylvania's energy and jobs future is bright, and I look forward to continuing our conversation to that end. Again, thank you, Mr. Chairman and all my colleagues and the panelists."

The Republicans on the Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee have yet to hold the hearings Sen. Comitta suggested in 2021.

Sen. Gene Yaw (R-Lycoming) serves as Majority Chair of the Senate Environmental Committee and can be contacted by calling 717-787-3280 or sending email to:   Sen. Carolyn Comitta (D-Chester) serves as Minority Chair and can be contacted by calling 717-787-5709 or sending email to:

Upcoming Events:

-- February 20-- Agenda Posted.  DEP Climate Change Advisory Committee meeting.  Room 105 Rachel Carson Building. 9:00 a.m.  Visit the Committee webpage for options to join the meeting remotely.  Contact: Lindsay Byron, at or (717) 772-8951.  Read more here on the agenda.

-- February 22-- Ohio River Valley Institute Webinar Announcing A Roadmap For Industrial Decarbonization In Pennsylvania.  3:00 p.m.  Read more on the agenda.


-- StateImpactPA - Rachel McDevitt: PA Environmental, Religious And Other Groups Criticize Shapiro Plan For Ignoring Climate Change   

-- Tribune-Democrat: DEP Approves Permit For 3,971 Acre Keyser Mostly Underground Metallurgical Coal Mine In Somerset County

Related Articles:

-- Sen. Comitta: Let's Work Together To Address Climate Change, But Stop Rehashing The Same Old Arguments Against RGGI That Are Not Protecting Our Planet And Our People  [PaEN]

-- DEP Climate Change Advisory Committee Meets Feb. 20 To Review 2024 Climate Impacts Assessment, PA Greenhouse Gas Inventory, Climate Action Plan  [PaEN]   

-- Ohio River Valley Institute Feb. 22 Webinar To Announce A Roadmap For Industrial Decarbonization In Pennsylvania  [PaEN]

-- Coalition For Community Solar Access Thanks House Consumer Protection, Technology & Utilities Committee For Hearing, Calls For Vote On House Bill 1842  [PaEN]

-- PennEnvironment Report Finds PA Lags Behind Many States In Rooftop Solar Facilities, Recommends Policies For Improving Growth  [PaEN] 

-- PA Solar Center, Partners Host Feb. 23 Webinar On Solar Energy For Municipalities And Water Authorities  [PaEN] 

-- PUC Invites Comments On Williams Natural Gas Pipeline Co. Proposal To Construct 2 Solar Energy Facilities To Provide Electricity To Compressor Stations In Columbia, Wyoming Counties  [PaEN] 

-- DEP Approves PennEnergy Resources 1.5 Million Gallon/Day Water Withdrawal For Shale Gas Drilling From Big Sewickley Creek In Beaver County  [PaEN]  

-- Southwest PA Municipal Project Hub Will Help Municipalities In 10 Counties Apply For Historic Federal Funding To Develop Clean, Sustainable Economic Development Projects, Communities  [PaEN]

-- Penn State Extension Energy Essentials: Unraveling Hydrogen Rainbow; Renewable Energy On The Farm; Carbon Markets, Climate-Smart Forestry  [PaEN]

-- Ohio River Basin Alliance, National Wildlife Federation Report Identifies Community Concerns, Priorities For Local Waters In Ohio River Watershed  [PaEN] 

-- PA Taxpayers To Give $130.9 Million In Tax Credits To Subsidize Shell Petrochemical Plant In Beaver County; Total Expected To Be $1.17 Billion Thru 2042; No Regard For Environmental Compliance Record  [PaEN]

-- Bloomberg TV: Canada’s Energy Minister: Period Of Using Natural Gas As Transition Fuel Should Be Short; Gas Should Not Replace Renewables; Canada Has Adopted Controls On LNG Exports The US Has Not  [PaEN]

-- Natural Gas Intelligence: 76% Increase In LNG Natural Gas Export Capacity Already Under Construction; US Group Fears Buildout Will Hurt American Businesses Urge ‘US Consumers First’ Policy  [PaEN]

[Posted: February 16, 2024]  PA Environment Digest

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