Pennsylvania Capitol building in Harrisburg

In this Jan. 15, 2019, file photo an America flag flies at the Pennsylvania Capitol building in Harrisburg, Pa. The rights of crime victims would be enshrined in the Pennsylvania Constitution under a proposed amendment that could go before the state’s voters later this year, but opponents warn the change has the potential to end up violating the rights of criminal defendants. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File)

HARRISBURG — Gov. Tom Wolf on Thursday vetoed a bill championed by local state representatives that would have required legislative approval before Pennsylvania could enter the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) or any similar multi-state compact.

“Once again, this governor’s allegiance lies with his own power and his own agenda,” state Rep. Jim Struzzi, R-Indiana, said in a news release. “Regardless of what the governor says, this bill does not prevent Pennsylvania from joining RGGI.

“Rather, it ensures the people of Pennsylvania have a say in the decision. It is meant to ensure proper research is done regarding the impacts RGGI would have on jobs, exports and energy prices. To date, none of that research has been done, and the Wolf administration seemingly has no interest in doing it at any point in the future.”

House Bill 2025 would have created the Pennsylvania Carbon Dioxide Cap and Trade Authorization Act clarified that the administration does not have the authority to unilaterally join RGGI and prohibited the Department of Environmental Protection from joining RGGI without legislative approval.

The Senate approved House Bill 2025, introduced by Struzzi, by a 33-17 vote, including five Democrats, on Sept. 9. The bill also had bipartisan support in the House, where it was approved 130-71 on July 8.

“My legislation is meant to ensure that the people of Pennsylvania have the opportunity to be heard. So far, they have not. The fundamental principle of American government is that the power lies with the people. Evidently, the governor has forgotten that,” Struzzi said.

State Sen. Joe Pittman, R-Indiana, also slammed the governor for his veto.

“With his veto of House Bill 2025, Governor Wolf has signed the economic death warrant of the communities I represent,” Pittman, the prime sponsor of the companion bill (Senate Bill 950), said in a separate news release. “We will continue to explore all avenues, legislative and legal, to prevent the Governor from unilaterally increasing the bills of electricity consumers by $300 million while exporting thousands of good paying family sustaining jobs to other states.”

On the other hand, PennFuture, an outspoken proponent of RGGI, applauded the governor “for doing the right thing in vetoing House Bill 2025,” said Rob Altenburg, director of the PennFuture Energy Center. “It’s clear that the governor possesses the legal authority to implement a cap-and-invest carbon reduction program in Pennsylvania, and there’s no good reason for the Legislature to attempt to take away that authority.

“The science is crystal clear: we need immediate and meaningful action to cut our carbon pollution, and implementing a program similar to the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative is our best chance to accomplish that goal.”