Governor Wolf Reaffirms Commitment to Combat Climate Change, Provides Update on RGGI Process
June 22, 2020
Governor Tom Wolf reaffirmed his commitment to combat climate change by providing the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) with a six-week extension to develop a proposed rulemaking to allow Pennsylvania to participate in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI).
Initially, the governor through executive action instructed DEP to develop a plan to present to the Pennsylvania Environmental Quality Board (EQB) by July 31, 2020. Under the amended executive order, the deadline has been extended to September 15, 2020.
“Addressing the global climate crisis is one of the most important and critical challenges we face. Even as we continue work to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, we cannot neglect our responsibility and our efforts to combat climate change,” Gov. Tom Wolf said. “Amending this order will provide DEP with more time to develop a strong plan without impacting our over goals for implementing the regulation.”
“Given the feedback from members of our advisory committees and the general public comments, and the disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, we plan to continue our conversations and outreach among the environmental justice community, affected communities, and general public throughout this summer,” said DEP Secretary Patrick McDonnell. “Gathering additional feedback prior to promulgation will allow us to strengthen the regulation and work with affected communities and will not affect the ultimate timeline for the regulation go into effect.”
RGGI is a market-based collaboration among 10 Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states to reduce greenhouse gas emissions while generating economic growth. Governor Wolf issued an Executive Order in October 2019 instructing DEP to begin the regulatory process of participating in RGGI.
The RGGI states have reduced power sector CO2 pollution by 45 percent since 2005, while the region’s per-capita GDP has continued to grow. Through its first six years of existence, RGGI investments were found to return $2.31 billion in lifetime energy bill savings to more than 161,000 households and 6,000 businesses that participated in programs funded by RGGI proceeds, and to 1.5 million households and over 37,000 businesses that received direct bill assistance.
Pennsylvania exports nearly a third of the electricity it produces, and the cost of RGGI compliance for exported electricity will be paid by electric customers in the states where that electricity is ultimately used.
Reducing CO2 emissions as part of combatting climate change is a top priority for the Wolf Administration. In January 2019, Governor Wolf signed an executive order to set Pennsylvania’s first statewide climate goals, aiming to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 26 percent by 2025 and by 80 percent by 2050, compared to 2005 levels.