PA Senate Committee Urges IRRC Disapproval Of Final RGGI Regulation
On August 18, Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee, chaired by Sen. Gene Yaw (R-Lycoming), approved sending a letter urging the Independent Regulatory Review Commission (IRRC) to disapprove the “CO2 Budget Trading Program,” proposed regulation – #7-559 (IRRC #3274).
The vote was 7 to 4, Republicans supporting the letter.
The IRRC is scheduled to consider the regulation in a meeting on September 1.
The letter reflects the view of organized labor, business leaders and elected officials that the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) would impose a massive tax on all coal and natural gas electric generation plants in the Commonwealth and cause the loss of thousands of jobs, without delivering the promised emissions-reducing benefits.
In addition, the final proposed rulemaking lacks any statutory basis and is opposed by wide, bipartisan majorities in both chambers of the General Assembly.
The letter notes that RGGI fails to meet the requirement of the state Regulatory Review Act that the state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) produce “acceptable data” to form the basis of the regulation.
“DEP’s data from its most recent modeling of RGGI’s impact on regional CO2 emissions concludes that 99.1 percent of all CO2 reductions in Pennsylvania would be offset by increases in CO2 emissions in non-RGGI PJM states, such as neighboring Ohio and West Virginia,” the letter states.
Based on the failure of DEP and the Environmental Quality Board to meaningfully respond to the objections raised in the committee’s previous comment letter and numerous other commentators (organized labor, business leaders, the regulated community, IRRC, etc.), the committee urged IRRC to exercise its independence and reject this proposed final regulation.
DEP disregarded IRRC’s previous recommendation to delay RGGI by at least one year to allow for impacted industries and communities to engage.
“Nevertheless,” the letter concludes, “we believe IRRC’s rejection will help pave the way for a more constructive dialogue between the Governor’s Office and the General Assembly to consider common sense energy policy reforms that do not impair our economy and harm our constituents.”
The House Environmental Resources and Energy Committee has already scheduled a meeting for September 2 on a concurrent resolution to disapprove of the RGGI regulation in anticipation of action by the IRRC on September 1.
PPA has been actively monitoring this climate-related regulation by DEP as well as the Regional Transportation Initiative for its impact on our members.