PA AFL-CIO Encourages Caution In Consideration Of PA RGGI Carbon Pollution Reduction Program For Power Plants
On May 12, the Pennsylvania AFL-CIO thanked the members of DEP’s Air Quality Technical Advisory Committee for hearing the concerns of working people on DEP’s proposed carbon pollution reduction program covering power plants that is compatible with the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative enrollment.
The Air Quality Technical Advisory Committee met on May 7 to discuss the proposal and voted 9 to 9, with one abstention, to not approve a motion to recommend DEP go to the Environmental Quality Board with the proposal. Read more here.
Union workers from the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, the International Brotherhood of Boilermakers, and consumer advocacy organizations testified on the ramifications of the RGGI enrollment on Pennsylvanians and communities across the Commonwealth.
Workers voiced their opposition to RGGI because its implementation would displace or eliminate jobs at coal and natural gas plants and devastate communities.
Pennsylvania's enrollment in RGGI must include a robust and transparent discussion accessible to consumers and workers; understandably, the COVID-19 pandemic has posed significant challenges and required adjustment in public engagement, not to mention its economic consequences.
"RGGI enrollment would impose a carbon tax on coal and natural gas plants that would prove financially fatal to several key jobmakers around the state. That, combined with the economic impact of COVID-19, would decimate communities and pass energy rate hikes onto consumers at the worst possible time," said federation President Rick Bloomingdale.
"Given that data modeling demonstrates that RGGI would have a marginal impact on air quality and other environmental factors, there is no guarantee that RGGI's intention would speed Pennsylvania's progress toward reducing carbon emissions," Bloomingdale continued.
Secretary-Treasurer Frank Snyder remarked, "We must take every action today to preserve Pennsylvania jobs. High-risk decisions must have a significant economic return for our communities; so far, any rewards from RGGI enrollment do not outweigh the risks. We have put forth that the best way to make significant strides in our environmental health is to invest in a 21st-century update to our energy grid and infrastructure. Right now is the time to seize the moment, bringing good jobs to communities that desperately need them and make long-term progress in reducing our carbon footprint. RGGI is not a solution, and Pennsylvanians can't afford it."
The DEP Citizens Advisory Council is scheduled to hold a virtual meeting May 19 to further discuss DEP’s proposed carbon pollution reduction program.
Gov. Wolf signed an Executive Order in October directing DEP to join the interstate Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative through a regulation adopted by the Environmental Quality Board.
RGGI is a market-based cap-and-invest by northeast states to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from power plants.
DEP met with the Citizens Advisory Council on November 19 to outline the process for developing the regulations needed to implement the program.
DEP released a draft regulation establishing a proposed cap-and-invest program on January 30, However, it did not include key provisions related to the overall cap on carbon emissions and how much the cap would be reduced each year.
DEP again met with the Citizens Advisory Council and the Air Quality Technical Advisory Committee April 23 on the proposal to hear a presentation on the latest modeling results.
The Air Quality Technical Advisory Committee met on May 7 to discuss the proposal and voted 9 to 9, with one abstention, to not approve a motion to recommend DEP go to the Environmental Quality Board with the proposal.
DEP Secretary Patrick McDonnell also said the agency has been holding meetings with individual stakeholders on the proposal.
In addition, there have been multiple hearings and information meetings in the Senate and House already on the proposal. Click Here for more background on Senate and House reviews.
Gov. Wolf’s Executive Order directs DEP to present a proposed regulation reducing carbon pollution from power plants to the Environmental Quality Board in July.
For more information on RGGI, visit DEP’s Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative
[Posted: May 12, 2020]
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