Yaw: Senate ERE Committee Approves Grant Program to Plug Orphaned Wells

HARRISBURG – The Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee approved legislation today that creates a sustainable plan to cap some of Pennsylvania’s orphaned oil and gas wells, Chairman Gene Yaw (R-23) said.

“We have hundreds of thousands of orphaned oil and gas wells that leak dangerous methane into the air we breathe every single day,” Yaw said. “This bill creates a framework for using the federal infrastructure funds awarded to Pennsylvania to tackle this problem and create a regulatory certainty that should prevent more abandonment by bankrupt operators.”

House Bill 2644 directs the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to use federal funding to create a grant program that targets abandoned wells unlikely to be chosen through the agency’s existing procurement-oriented program. The legislation would also transfer the responsibility of fixing bond amounts for well operators from the Environmental Quality Board to the General Assembly.

The DEP spends roughly $1 million annually to cap about 10 wells and has managed to remediate more than 3,300 since 1984. The agency recently told the federal government it has identified more than 26,000 wells in need of plugging, at a cost of $1.8 billion.

The legislation now advances to the full Senate for consideration.

 

CONTACT: Nick Troutman, 717-787-3280

Senate ERE Committee Approves Mineral Impact Study, Bill to Redirect Funds to Postmining Water Clean-Up

Harrisburg – The Senate Environmental Resources and Energy (ERE) Committee took action today on a proposed critical mineral impact study and a bill that redirects funding toward postmining water clean-up, Chairman Gene Yaw (R-23) said.

Senate Bill 1038 would redirect civil penalties collected for water violations related to coal mining under the Clean Streams Law to the Reclamation Fee Operations and Management (O&M) Trust Account. Doing so would provide more funding for ongoing clean-up of legacy coal mining sites, of which Pennsylvania has one of the largest inventories nationwide.

“This bill simply ensures fines collected for post-mining pollution discharge will continue to support reclamation of former mining sites,” Yaw said.

The committee also unanimously approved Senate Resolution 229, which directs the Joint State Government Commission to study the economic, environmental and health impacts of the critical mineral industry in Pennsylvania.

“Pennsylvania stands poised for a manufacturing renaissance, if only we can harness the power of newly-discovered reclamation processes that would make mining for these materials safer for the environment,” Yaw said. “Doing so would end our reliance on Chinese imports, where mineral extraction is unregulated and dangerous.”

The bills now move to the full Senate for consideration.

 

CONTACT: Nick Troutman, 717-787-3280

Independent Analysis Concludes RGGI Carbon Tax Could Increase Pennsylvania Electricity Costs 3.8x More Than Wolf’s Projections

HARRISBURG – Impartial analysis from the Independent Fiscal Office (IFO) projects the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) could nearly quadruple new electricity costs for consumers, Sens. Gene Yaw (R-23) and John Yudichak (I-14) said today.

The IFO, revered across state government for its nonpartisan examination of budgetary policy, reviewed the administration’s outdated RGGI modeling and presented its findings to a joint hearing of the Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee and the Community Economic and Recreational Development Committee on Tuesday.

Among the many shocking details of the report, IFO Director Matthew Knittel said Pennsylvania energy generators could spend upwards of $781 million annually on emissions credits at the RGGI auctions – nearly four times the amount anticipated by the administration’s taxpayer-funded analysis used to justify our participation in RGGI in 2020. The IFO also warned members that “those costs would be pushed through to final customers.”

“Thoughtful, independent testimony from a diverse group of experts in government, business, and organized labor confirms the many concerns legislators have raised about the administration’s unilateral and unconstitutional decision to push Pennsylvania into the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative without legislative action,” said Yudichak.

This $781 million represents a carbon tax on electricity generation that will have a direct impact on electricity rates for residential, commercial and industrial customers. This will be particularly harmful to low and fixed income households already smothered by energy poverty and runaway inflation, Yaw said.

“The IFO’s findings confirm my worst fears about the administration’s hasty push to join RGGI,” Yaw said. “The cost of this program will cripple our economy at a time when we can least afford it.”

“Growing evidence from economists and environmental scientists suggest that RGGI will devastate Pennsylvania’s energy industry, dramatically increase energy costs for every consumer and produce no material gains in reducing greenhouse gas emissions,” Yudichak said.

Yaw and Yudichak sent a letter to the IFO last month requesting an audit of the modeling completed by ICF International and used by the Department of Environmental Protection to tout RGGI’s supposed economic and environmental benefits.

When Gov. Tom Wolf signed the 2019 executive order that would force Pennsylvania into the regional carbon tax program, auction clearing prices – the amount energy producers pay to buy “credits” to offset their emissions – would only be $3.24 per short ton in 2022. At that time, taxpayer-funded analysts insisted prices would stay under $4 through 2030.

The auction clearing price set on Dec. 1, however, exceeded $13 per short ton, more than four times what the department estimated and 40% above the Sept. 8 clearing price alone.

The IFO said this spike in clearing prices casts doubt on every projection the former analysis made. For example, net generation from coal and natural gas – two sources of carbon emissions targeted by RGGI – will likely grow 16%, not the flat rate assumed by ICF, to account for increased demand.

IFO analysis also concluded that emissions reductions between 2008 and 2020 for the 10 RGGI states were comparable to non-participating states – a fact that unravels the entire premise for joining the program in the first place, Yaw said.

“This is disastrous policy built on delusions of grandeur, and we must do everything we can to prevent Pennsylvania from diving headfirst off this proverbial cliff,” Yaw said.

The hearing also included perspectives from Pennsylvania’s business, labor and educational experts. Full video of the hearing and testimony from each of the participants can be found on the Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee’s website.

CONTACT:

Nick Troutman (Yaw)
Scot Pitzer (Yudichak)

Senate Republicans Continue Fight Against Wolf’s Job-Killing Carbon Tax

Governor Wolf’s push for Pennsylvania to join the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) has been a bad deal from the start. The carbon tax proposal – which was NOT approved by the General Assembly –is projected to increase electricity rates for consumers, cut energy and manufacturing jobs and lead to the closure of Pennsylvania power plants.

One estimate found the proposal could result in 22,000 lost jobs and a total loss to the economy as high as $7.7 billion a year.

Every other state that joined RGGI did so through the legislative process. The Wolf Administration is attempting to join RGGI through executive action, circumventing the General Assembly’s constitutional authority to make laws, join interstate compacts and approve or disapprove any tax increases on Pennsylvanians.

Last week, Senate Republican leaders filed an injunction to prevent the Wolf Administration from moving forward with RGGI until all legal challenges are resolved on their merits. We will continue to fight against the Wolf Administration’s unilateral action that would kill Pennsylvania jobs, push energy bills even higher and do irreparable harm to our state’s economy.

Brief in Support of Application 

Application for Special Relief 

POSTPONED MEDIA ADVISORY: Joint Senate Hearing to Discuss Economic Impacts of RGGI

HARRISBURG – The Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee will hold a joint hearing with the Community, Economic and Recreational Development Committee on Tuesday, March 29 at 10 a.m. to discuss the economic impacts of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI).

The Independent Fiscal Office will discuss the results of its own analysis regarding RGGI’s effects. The IFO offers revenue projections for use in the state’s annual budget process as well as impartial analysis of fiscal and economic concerns that assist the General Assembly in evaluating policy decisions.

Additional panels will include testifiers from affected businesses and labor groups, including the Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry; the National Federation of Independent Business; the Pennsylvania Manufacturers’ Association; the Virginia Manufacturers’ Association; the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers; the International Brotherhood of Boilermakers and Boilermakers Local 154.

The hearing will be held in Hearing Room 1 of the North Office Building. A livestream link will also be available at PASenateGOP.com.

 

CONTACT:

Nick Troutman (Yaw)

Scot Pitzer (Yudichak)

 

MEDIA ADVISORY: Joint Senate Hearing to Discuss Economic Impacts of RGGI

HARRISBURG – The Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee will hold a joint hearing with the Community, Economic and Recreational Development Committee on Monday, March 21 at 1 p.m. to discuss the economic impacts of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI).

The Independent Fiscal Office will discuss the results of its own analysis regarding RGGI’s effects. The IFO offers revenue projections for use in the state’s annual budget process as well as impartial analysis of fiscal and economic concerns that assist the General Assembly in evaluating policy decisions.

Additional panels will include testifiers from affected businesses and labor groups, including the Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry; the National Federation of Independent Business; the Pennsylvania Manufacturers’ Association; the Virginia Manufacturers’ Association; the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers; the International Brotherhood of Boilermakers and Boilermakers Local 154.

The hearing will be held in Hearing Room 1 of the North Office Building. A livestream link will also be available at PASenateGOP.com.

CONTACT:

Nick Troutman (Yaw)

Scot Pitzer (Yudichak)