Gov. Tom Wolf’s executive order to the state Department of Environmental Protection to enable the state to join the Northeast Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative suffered another setback Tuesday.
By 9-3 with one abstention, the department’s Citizens’ Advisory Council rejected an 85-page proposal establishing a carbon dioxide budget trading program, or carbon tax, in the Keystone State.
It was the second time a DEP panel rejected the proposal. On May 7 the Air Quality Technical Advisory Committee voted 9-9 with one abstention, effectively killing a motion by that panel to move the proposal forward.
That proposal aims “to cap and reduce CO2 (carbon dioxide) emissions from the power sector,” with a tax recently set at $5.65 per short ton of CO2 generated from such venues as fossil-fueled power plants.
Opponents believe that such a so-called carbon tax could lead to a shutdown of several of those plants in and around Indiana County.
In turn, the Power PA Jobs Initiative said, it would mean the loss of thousands of jobs, a depletion of tax revenue that could endanger at least one school district hosting a plant, Homer-Center, and higher costs for electricity.
That alliance is a coalition of labor, management and consumer stakeholders opposed to RGGI, including political leaders on both county and state levels.
Wolf’s administration has insisted that it won’t suspend plans to join RGGI, which also covers 10 other Northeastern states.
The Power PA Jobs Initiative includes supporters of House Bill 2025 and Senate Bill 950, which would require that RGGI be “vetted through the Legislature.”
HB 2025’s prime sponsor, state Rep. Jim Struzzi, R-Indiana, said he was “very happy and thankful to see the CAC’s decision … to help protect Pennsylvania’s energy jobs.”
Struzzi hoped that the House Environmental Resources and Energy Committee would take up his bill. The committee’s chairman, state Rep. Darryl Metcalfe, R-Butler County, appeared ready to oblige.
“RGGI is guaranteed to increase energy prices and kill family-sustaining jobs through excessive carbon emissions taxation and overregulation,” Metcalfe said in a news release issued by Struzzi’s office.
“I am looking forward to working together with Rep. Struzzi to advance his legislation which would begin the process of reining in the rogue governor’s unlawful executive order to enter Pennsylvania into this false science-driven compact without the constitutionally-required approval of the people’s legislature,” Metcalfe said.
The companion SB 950, whose prime sponsor is state Sen. Joe Pittman, R-Indiana, remains in the Senate’s Environmental Resources and Energy Committee. Its chairman, Sen. Gene Yaw, R-Lycoming County, is a co-sponsor of SB 950, but that panel has no meetings scheduled at this time, and the full Senate is not scheduled to return to session until June 1.