Governor Shapiro Appeals Commonwealth Court’s RGGI Decision

This past Tuesday, the Shapiro Administration appealed the recent Commonwealth Court rulings that had blocked the implementation of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI). The General Assembly had never voted to approve RGGI. The Wolf Administration had adopted it through Executive Order by pursuing a regulatory process. The program would have generated several hundred million dollars to the state for the purpose of funding environmental programs.

For these reasons, the Court ruled that in essence RGGI was a tax. In Pennsylvania, adoption of a tax is required to be approved by the legislature. Thus according to court the process by which RGGI was adopted was unconstitutional. The Governor had thirty days to appeal the Commonwealth Court ruling to the State Supreme Court. It should be noted there is no time limit as to when the Supreme Court would need to rule on the appeal (if it ever does).

Governor Shapiro, who expressed being uncomfortable with RGGI during his campaign, stated that he appealed the court ruling to protect the regulatory process for the future. Several months ago, he had appointed a task force of unions, coal companies and environmental groups to work on an alternative to RGGI. Those suggestions were rejected by Senate Republicans.

It has been reported that the Administration has not opposed a stay on the implementation of RGGI before the Supreme Court rules. It is unclear at this point whether there will be negotiations between the Senate Republicans and the Governor on the issue.