The Phoenix

Our state should stay out of greenhouse gas initiative

- By State Sen Gene Yaw State Sen. Gene Yaw is a Republican who serves as chairman of the Senate’s Environmen­tal Resources & Energy Committee.

If Gov. Tom Wolf’s administra­tion gets its way in court, Pennsylvan­ia will join the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) in a matter of weeks.

The administra­tion’s potential victory — a hollow quest to lower carbon emissions in Pennsylvan­ia — will cost residents $2 billion in the next five years. How? According to the Department of Environmen­tal Protection’s own budget projection­s, energy producers will spend an estimated $410 million each year buying credits at RGGI’s quarterly auctions meant to offset the emissions their facilities generate. Make no mistake, this is a carbon tax, which means utilities will increase customers’ rates to recoup their added costs.

So on top of record-breaking inflation, skyrocketi­ng gas prices and supply chain nightmares, Pennsylvan­ians will pay up to 25% more to keep the lights on and stay warm. And that clean air RGGI promises to deliver? It won’t exist either, since nothing can prevent carbon dioxide and other air pollutants emitted from power plants in Ohio or West Virginia from drifting across state lines. Even the most optimistic projection­s show a CO2 reduction of less than 1% by 2030.

Virginia recognizes the abject failure of RGGI to achieve any of its stated goals and wasted no time reversing course on the legislatur­e’s shortsight­ed decision to join the program two years ago.

Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s executive action — and correspond­ing legislativ­e action — will protect the state’s most vulnerable from an unconscion­able spike in utility costs at a time when global conflict and economic uncertaint­y threaten us all.

If only this administra­tion felt a similar allegiance to the 13 million people it represents. If only they supported energy policy that prioritize­d independen­ce and valued the plentiful resource right beneath their feet. Instead, the proposal is to leave Pennsylvan­ia’s environmen­tal and economic destiny to the whims of officials in New York and New Jersey. In each auction, the 11 states compete for a finite number of credits allowed under the regional cap, based on a collective goal to reduce emissions 30% by 2030. That means New England states joined New York, Delaware, New Jersey, Maryland and Virginia in setting an “acceptable” level of power sector carbon pollution. None of those states boast a robust energy industry but rather rely on foreign imports to meet demand.

So Pennsylvan­ia, the number two natural gas producer in the country and thes top power exporter, should set its environmen­tal policies based on other states’ standards?

Frustrated Virginia lawmakers and the environmen­tal groups that bankroll them will inevitably challenge Youngkin’s order in the courts. The Southern Environmen­tal Law Center had the audacity to tell Forbes that the state’s RGGI participat­ion “cannot be undone by a simple pen stroke” since only the legislatur­e “gets to decide laws in Virginia.”

It’s strange how their counterpar­ts here claim the exact opposite — the state’s Air Pollution Control Act somehow gives our governor unilateral power to enact a tax on the power sector without any legislativ­e input.

The administra­tion will dance around this fact like it did during DEP’s budget hearing before a Senate committee. But the truth remains — 162 out of 253 elected officials in Pennsylvan­ia oppose joining RGGI because it will raise electricit­y bills, send thousands of jobs out of state and do nothing to improve air quality. Only a veto override — or a successful legal challenge — can prevent us from barreling head-first into this disastrous carbon tax scheme.

 ?? ?? Sen. Gene Yaw
Sen. Gene Yaw

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