Tom Wolf, Pennsylvania’s Democratic governor, is in favor of joining the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, a carbon-reduction program. State Rep. Pam Snyder is opposed.
Snyder, D-Jefferson, is concerned that joining RGGI would have a negative effect on her district, which encompasses all of Greene County and parts of Washington and Fayette counties. That’s why she is gratified that the Independent Regulatory Review Commission on Feb. 16 asked the state’s Environmental Quality Board to delay the commonwealth’s entry into RGGI by one year.
“This decision by IRRC shows that RGGI is definitely the wrong path for our state to take, notably during a pandemic,” Snyder said in a news release.
“In fact, several industry representatives, including the Pennsylvania Manufacturers Association and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, are rightfully concerned that such a move would impose a carbon tax and lead energy companies in my communities to close. Frankly, that would be beyond devastating. We can’t afford for that to happen.
“It is imperative that the governor take these recommendations from IRRC seriously and put an end to RGGI. My region is among those that would be adversely impacted, and if those energy jobs leave our state, we’ll be paying the price for years and generations to come.”
RGGI is a polarizing issue across the Keystone State. It is favored by environmental advocates, but opposed by many in industry who believe that joining the initiative will ultimately result in increased energy rates for consumers and businesses, and job loss, without significantly cutting greenhouse gas emissions, as supporters claim.
The initiative’s primary objective is to reduce emissions by 30% between 2020 and 2030.
Rachel Gleason, executive director of the Pennsylvania Coal Alliance and a member of the Power PA Jobs Alliance, said in a statement: “Many organizations and individuals are quickly discovering (that Wolf’s) unilateral plan will destroy Pennsylvania communities and economies, predominantly in Western Pennsylvania, and would be the largest restructuring of Pennsylvania’s energy landscape since deregulation.”
Referring to recent blackouts in Texas, where wind and solar energy are prominent, she added: “Coal is the only source that can provide more power at any time, and should be valued for its ability to sustain the livelihoods of residents and business throughout the country.”
Eleven states have joined RGGI – Virginia, plus 10 of the 11 located located in the northeastern U.S. Pennsylvania, is the exception.