Yaw: Senate Committee Disapproves Wolf RGGI Tax on PA Energy Producers

(HARRISBURG) – The Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee today voted to disapprove a Wolf Administration regulation that imposes a tax on Pennsylvania energy producers by entering the state into the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), according to Senator Gene Yaw (R-23), chairman of the committee.

“This is the most significant and devasting thing that has happened to employers in Pennsylvania in more than a decade,” Senator Yaw said. “It is crushing to all businesses who rely on any form of energy and to our families who, according to estimates, will see their energy bills increase by 18 percent.”

The committee voted 7-4 to adopt Senate Concurrent Regulatory Review Resolution 1, which disapproves a Wolf Administration regulation that paves the way for Pennsylvania to join RGGI, a collaboration of 11 Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states that sets a cap on total carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from electric power generators in their states.

“When Gov. Wolf announced his decision to join RGGI in 2019, the tax rate was $5.20 per ton of CO2. Since then, the RGGI tax rate has increased 79 percent to $9.30,” Senator Yaw said. “DEP’s so-called ‘independent’ models emphasized the RGGI tax rate would not surpass $7 per CO2 ton until at least 2025.”

The resolution now goes to the full Senate for consideration. The Senate has either 10 legislative or 30 calendar days – whichever is longer – to consider the disapproval resolution. If approved, the resolution goes to the House chamber, which also has 10 legislative or 30 calendar days window to pass the resolution and present it to the governor.

If the Governor vetoes the disapproval resolution, it will return to the Senate who may consider overriding the veto. Two-thirds of the Senate must support the resolution to override the veto. The measure then goes to the House where the same two-thirds vote is required.

“As a result of this unilateral decision, Pennsylvania coal plants will have to pay a 50-60 percent tax per MWh of electricity generated that coal plants in states like Ohio and West Virginia will NEVER pay,” Senator Yaw said. “Meanwhile, as the Governor embarks on his quest to eliminate all coal and many natural gas plants in PA, Ohio and West Virginia are moving forward with massive subsidies to ensure their coal and natural gas plants continue to operate for as long as their useful life will permit.”

On October 3, 2019, Governor Wolf directed the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to join RGGI with Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Virginia

To comply, power plants must purchase a credit or “allowance” for each ton of CO2 they emit. Pennsylvania would be the only state in the compact with a substantial number of coal or natural gas power energy production facilities and the only one to join the compact without legislative approval.

Lawmakers have strenuously opposed the Governor’s edict since the beginning, citing that it overstepped the Administration’s powers by usurping the legislature’s exclusive powers to impose taxes and that the carbon tax would devastate local economies and cost thousands of jobs.

WATCH: Senator Yaw makes the case for disapproval of the RGGI regulations

To watch the entire hearing from today click here. For more Senate action on the RGGI rulemaking, click here.

For more state-related news and information, visit Senator Yaw’s website at www.SenatorGeneYaw.com or on Facebook and Twitter @SenatorGeneYaw.

CONTACT: Nick Troutman

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