Pennsylvania is one step closer to joining the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative. The Independent Regulatory Review Commission voted 3 to 2 on Sept. 1 to approve the regulation for Pennsylvania to join the regional cap-and-trade program.
The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative was created to limit carbon dioxide emissions from power plants. The original RGGI member states are Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island and Vermont.
Proponents of the move to join the RGGI say it’s necessary for Pennsylvania to reduce air pollution and could increase the state’s GDP and create new jobs. Opponents argue joining the program would amount to a burdensome carbon tax that would cost the state jobs and hurt the economy.
The regulatory package will now be reviewed by the General Assembly.
Pennsylvania has the fifth leading carbon dioxide emitting electricity generation sector in the country. The DEP says the RGGI is a significant component in achieving Pennsylvania’s goals to reduce net greenhouse gas emissions from 2005 levels by 26% by 2025 and 80% by 2050.
Gov. Tom Wolf has been pushing for the state to join the regional program. He signed an executive order, in October 2019, announcing the intention to join the program, and ordering the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection to draft a regulation to present before the Environmental Quality Board.
The Environmental Quality Board adopted the final-form rule to join the RGGI in July.
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