PA Senate Passes Resolution To Block Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative Regulations; Now Goes To House
On October 27, the Senate voted 32 to 18, just short of a veto-proof margin, to adopt a concurrent resolution to block final DEP regulations from going into effect setting limits on greenhouse gas emissions from power plants consistent with the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative.
The resolution had been on the Senate Calendar since it was reported out of the Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee on September 14. Read more here.
The resolution now goes to the House which must also adopt the resolution before it would go to Gov. Wolf for his action. The Senate and House would then have the opportunity, by two-thirds vote, to override his veto.
Gov. Wolf has already said he would veto the resolution, if it got to his desk. The Senate and House would then have the opportunity, by two-thirds vote, to override his veto.
The House had its own concurrent resolution to block the regulations on its voting calendar since the House Environmental Resources and Energy Committee reported it out of Committee on September 2 [Read more here], but they did not act on it within the 30 calendar days or ten legislative days limit prescribed in the state Regulatory Review Act.
It is not known whether the House will take action on the Senate-passed resolution and get a second 30 calendar day or ten legislative day time period for legislative action.
There is no provision in the Regulatory Review Act for a second time period for legislative action on this type of resolution.
Both the Senate and House had a notation on their voting Calendars of the time limit for action imposed by the Regulatory Review Act. It said, “Editorial Note: Final action on this resolution must occur within 30 calendar days or ten legislative days following its date of report from committee, whichever is later.”
Separately, the Senate passed legislation in June– Senate Bill 119 (Pittman-R-Indiana)– that would also block the regulations from going into effect. The bill has been in the House Environmental Resources and Energy Committee since that time.
In September, the House Environmental Committee reported out its own version of the bill– House Bill 637 (Struzzi-R-Indiana)– which is now Tabled in the House.
Both the Senate and House bills are like legislation Gov. Wolf vetoed in September of 2020. Read more here.
Attorney General Review
Attorney General Josh Shapiro, who announced he was running for Governor, last week separated himself from Gov. Wolf on the RGGI issue saying–
“We need to take real action to address climate change, protect and create energy jobs and ensure Pennsylvania has reliable, affordable and clean power for the long term. As governor, I will implement an energy strategy which passes that test, and it’s not clear to me that RGGI does.” Read more here.
As Attorney General, however, Shapiro has a statutory responsibility to formally review the final regulation from DEP for “form and legality” before it can be published as a final regulation and take effect.
Republican leaders from the Senate and House have been urging Shapiro to disapprove the regulations and say DEP doesn’t have the authority to adopt what they see as a “tax.” Read more here.
The Office of Attorney General has already reviewed the regulations once at the proposed stage and concluded they do meet the requirements for form and legality, are authorized by statute and are constitutional.
The Office will get a second chance to review the final regulations, which have not changed significantly from the original version.
— StateImpactPA – Rachel McDevitt: Senate Moves Resolution To Block RGGI, Key Part Of Wolf’s Climate Plan; Resolution Now Goes To The House
— AP: AG Shapiro Breaks With Wolf Over RGGI Strategy On Climate Change
— PA Cap-Star: Gubernatorial Candidate Shapiro Is Skeptical Of RGGI; Unclear If AG Shapiro Will Do Something About It
— Office Of Attorney General: Responds To Republicans On Review Of RGGI Regulation