WILKES-BARRE, PA – The state Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee, chaired by Sen. Gene Yaw, R-23 and Sen. John Yudichak (D-14) held a second Committee hearing Thursday morning to discuss the federal Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) plan to cut carbon pollution from nationwide power plants. In June, the EPA proposed its Clean Energy Policy as part of President Barack Obama’s Action Plan addressing climate change.
The public hearing, held on the campus of Wilkes University, featured testimony from the Energy Center for Enterprise and the Environment at Citizens for Pennsylvania’s Future, also known as PennFuture; the Natural Resources Defense Council; the Electric Power Generation Association; PPL Generation’s Eastern Fossil and Hydro division, as well as representatives from consulting and consumer alliance organizations.
The hearing marked the second time state legislators addressed the proposed federal policy, which has been met with skepticism from Pennsylvania’s coal industry and business community who argue that the proposal would increase electric prices and raise the cost of doing business in the state. Subsequently, environmentalists, including those supporting the solar, wind and energy efficiency sectors, heralded the Obama administration’s proposal.
“As legislators, we have an obligation to the environment, but we also have an obligation to the consumer,” Yaw said. “We have to balance the needs of both as we examine a complex issue like this one, which is why I think it is imperative for this committee to look at the short and long-term effects of this federal proposal on our environment and overall economy.”
Jake Smeltz, testifying on behalf of the Electric Power Generation Association, noted that EPA’s emission reduction goals appear to be very aggressive, resulting in unintended consequences with the bulk power system. Smeltz echoed a U.S. Chamber of Commerce figure noting the new plan could potentially cost as many as 442,000 jobs in 2022 and put 224,000 Americans out of work, on average, annually. Smeltz added that the federal plan should take a state-specific approach, rather than a one-size fits all model and allow Pennsylvania to work collaboratively with other states, and the opportunity to enter into a regional compliance plan.
Christina Simeone, Director of the PennFuture Energy Center, a non-profit, membership-based environmental advocacy organization focusing on land, air, water and energy issues, testified that historically, and over the long-term, the United States has been the largest greenhouse gas emitter, eclipsed only recently by China. “Doing nothing or promoting continual delay should not be an option,” Simeone said. “Pennsylvanians will continue to spend more and more money on climate change related damages, the eventual cost of addressing climate change will increase and lead to severe future economic disruptions, and the impacted industries before you today will have more severe requirements and less flexibility.”
Legislation is currently pending in the Pennsylvania General Assembly that would require the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to develop a state-specific carbon reduction plan. The legislation also requires the plan to be submitted and approved by both chambers of the state legislature prior to being formally submitted to the EPA.
For a complete list of testifiers, along with testimony and hearing Video/Audio, visit www.senatorgeneyaw.com
CONTACT: Adam Pankake, 717-787-3280