One Step Forward

In a hard-fought bid to make Pennsylvania the first major fossil fuel state to adopt a carbon pricing policy, Governor Tom Wolf’s plan to fight climate change passed its last regulatory hurdle yesterday with the IRRC (Independent Regulatory Review Commission).

The 3-2 party-line vote allows Pennsylvania to join a multistate consortium, the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (aka ‘Reggie’) that sets a price and declining limits on carbon dioxide emissions from power plants. Pennsylvania’s energy sector is its largest emitter of carbon dioxide, which is the most pervasive greenhouse gas.

IRRC Commission Members
George D. Bedwick, Chairman – Appointed January 2021 by the Honorable Joanna McClinton, House Democratic Leader.
John F. Mizner, Esq., Vice Chairman – Appointed February 2021 by the Honorable Jake Corman, President Pro Tempore of the Senate.
John J. Soroko, Esq., Commissioner – Appointed February 2020 by the Honorable Mike Turzai, Speaker of the House.
Murray Ufberg, Esq., Commissioner – Appointed March 2015 by the Honorable Tom Wolf, Governor. February 2003 through March 2006 as an appointee of Governor Edward G. Rendell.
Dennis A. Watson, Esq., Commissioner – Appointed February 2021 by the Honorable Jay Costa, Senate Democratic Leader.
Link to 2021 IRRC Meetings

The most alarming photo I’ve ever taken of our regional air quality is this photo of the heavily fracked Hickory area in Washington County, Pa on May 14, 2015 which I titled ‘THE BLACK VEIL’

“The most important climate action that Pennsylvania has taken in more than a decade.”

Mark Szybist, senior attorney for the Natural Resources Defense Council

Electricity generated from wind, solar and nuclear will likely become more cost competitive. Yet a legal challenge can be anticipated, and the Republican-controlled Pennsylvania legislature may also try to block it, before Reggie can take effect early next year.

“We realize Pennsylvania cannot combat climate change on its own, but we also must recognize that the rest of the world cannot combat climate change without us.”

Patrick McDonnell, Secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection

Statement by Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf – September 1, 2021
“Climate change is one of the most critical issues we face and I have made it a priority to address ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. By participating in RGGI, Pennsylvania is taking a historic, proactive and progressive approach that will have significant positive environmental, public health and economic impacts. Participating in RGGI is one more way for Pennsylvania, which is a major electricity producer, to reduce carbon emissions and achieve our climate goals. In addition to the environmental benefits, participating in this cap-and-trade initiative will allow Pennsylvania to make targeted investments that will support workers and communities affected by energy transition. Today’s vote puts Pennsylvania one step closer toward our efforts to achieve these goals and I’m grateful that IRRC recognized the importance of our participation in RGGI.” 

Here’s to cleaner air in our Commonwealth of Pennsylvania!

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