HARRISBURG – In a letter sent to Secretary Patrick McDonnell of the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) today, state Sen. Gene Yaw (R-23) questioned the impartiality of ICF International, Inc., a Fairfax, Virginia-based global consulting and technology services company employed by DEP to study Pennsylvania’s potential participation in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI).
DEP utilized consulting firm ICF International’s Integrated Planning Model to estimate the effects joining RGGI would have on Pennsylvania’s electricity generation, CO2 emissions and the PJM Interconnection.
Yaw, who serves as Chairman of the Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee, referenced a July 9, 2020 letter that was circulated to members of the state’s Environmental Quality Board (EQB) by businesses supporting DEP’s proposed RGGI regulations. He noted that a signatory to that support letter was ICF, the company which DEP has hired to do the modeling to provide an evaluation of the RGGI proposal.
“I am not going to waste either of our time by detailing why this scenario raises serious ethical issues as well as questions of transparency,” Yaw said in the letter to Secretary McDonnell. “In short, ICF has shown that it is biased and that its modeling work will always be subject to question.”
Over the past several months, Yaw and other Pennsylvania legislators have expressed concerns with the RGGI plan that joins Pennsylvania with states that import their electricity and have banned new pipelines thus allowing Pennsylvania natural gas to flow to large markets like New York City and Boston.
Participating RGGI states, through legislative or regulatory action, agree to implement the Initiative through a tax and spend program involving CO2 emitting electric power plants. In order to show compliance with the CO2 cap, power plants are taxed when forced to purchase an “allowance” for each ton of CO2 they emit.
Yaw’s letter went on to state that, “DEP has had its RGGI proposal rejected by three citizens advisory groups composed of membership chosen by the administration. Now, the company hired to do impartial modeling clearly cannot continue in that capacity. DEP needs to do a top to bottom reboot of the RGGI idea. A beginning might be to talk to the legislature.”
The Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee will be holding further hearings on RGGI in the coming weeks. To preview the Committee’s most recent June 23rd hearing, click here: https://environmental.pasenategop.com/062320/