HARRISBURG – State Sen. Gene Yaw (R-23), Chairman of the Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee, issued the following statement following today’s Environmental Quality Board (EQB) vote to consider the Governor’s proposal to bring Pennsylvania into the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), a consortium of states that impose a carbon tax on electricity production and require fossil fuel generators to purchase allowances.
“I’m extremely disappointed, but not surprised by the vote today. As I said from the beginning, there are a lot of unanswered questions as to what entering RGGI would entail for the citizens of Pennsylvania. Perhaps the most important is “cost.” How is this going to impact industry? How many jobs will be lost? What are the impacts on ratepayers?
I am even more dismayed that the Board voted not to support many of the motions, including to increase the public comment period from 60 days to 180 or even 120 days, as well as to guarantee a public, in-person hearing in Indiana County, which would be severely impacted by the rulemaking. It’s unconscionable that the EQB Administration appointees closed the door on the workers and families from Western Pennsylvania.
I support efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but it is worth noting that, since RGGI began trading allowances in 2009, the current 10 RGGI states have reduced carbon emissions by 23%, while Pennsylvania has reduced carbon emissions by 29%. This was accomplished all without government mandate and at great savings to consumers.
For a step of this magnitude, which affects consumers, business, industry and public policy – the legislature, who represents the citizens of this state, should have been involved in the dialogue on joining RGGI. Unfortunately, the Governor felt differently. This was clearly another unilateral decision.