Letter to the Editor: Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative

HARRISBURG – During the past week there has been a lot of attention and talk centered around an important piece of legislation. Known as the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), or House Bill 2025, this legislation was passed by the Senate last week by a bi-partisan vote of 33-17 vote. HB 2025 was a legislative reaction to yet one more attempt by the Governor to set himself up as sole arbiter, eliminating the legislature in his unilateral actions yet again. There is growing distrust that the Governor’s unilateral actions unnecessarily subvert our residents’ Constitutional rights. Adding to that argument, on Monday September 14th, U.S. District Court Judge William Stickman ruled much of Governor Wolf’s actions since March 13th have been unconstitutional.

Let’s examine HB 2025 further:

  • This bill prohibits the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) from taking action to join or participate in a State or regional greenhouse gas cap-and trade program or establish such a program unless specifically authorized by a vote of the General Assembly.

What House Bill 2025 does not do is:

  • Increase carbon emissions or air pollution.
  • Ignore climate change.
  • Prohibit the future entry into the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI).

In very simple terms, DEP entering into this regional compact under the direction of the Wolf Administration is counter to progress and collaboration, and instead would provide a unilateral adoption of an interstate compact in a fashion contrary to any previous compact adapted by Pennsylvania. In fact, Pennsylvania is party to both the Chesapeake Bay Commission and the Susquehanna River Basin Commission which are interstate compacts that include several of surrounding states. Both of these compacts, and others, were established by Statute and include legislative oversight as well as Federal representation.  The administration’s approach was intended to ignore you – our citizens – by once again ignoring the legislature. Any costs and/or operational issues would have been decided solely by the Governor, an approach surely not reflective of our constitutional form of government.

Further, the unilateral authority Governor Wolf was pursuing, would require power plants to buy allowances of carbon emissions, under a certain cap. While that sounds good on the face, that immediately points to two glaring consequences that will hit the people of Pennsylvania:

First, skyrocketing electricity costs. All increased operating electric generation costs will most certainly be passed directly onto you, the consumer. 

Second, plants which cannot afford to purchase enough credits to sustain their operations will be forced to close, which could lead to an estimated 15,000 to 20,000 lost jobs in the Commonwealth. 

HB 2025 sought to limit the Governor’s powers, powers which he has abused and powers which have been found by the Federal court to be unconstitutional! RGGI may be a good approach, but only with legislative involvement to balance against the capricious nature of our Governor’s actions.

For more information on Senator Mensch’s legislation, visit www.senatormensch.com.  State updates can also be found on Senator Mensch’s Facebook at facebook.com/PASenatorBobMensch/ or Twitter @SenatorMensch.

 

CONTACT: Madison Scarfaro mscarfaro@pasen.gov  (215) 541-2388