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Gov. Tom Wolf talking to the Indiana Gazette news staff.

Gov. Tom Wolf has expressed agreement with points made in a Feb. 12 letter by state Sen. Joe Pittman, R-Indiana, that Pennsylvania should pursue the federal government’s Coal FIRST initiative to support carbon capture utilization and storage research.

But the governor sidestepped Pittman’s ongoing calls for the Wolf administration to work with the General Assembly “in determining the most appropriate path forward” regarding state energy policy and the governor’s plan to join the commonwealth to the Northeast Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative.

“We know from repeated global energy scenario reports that carbon capture utilization and storage will be necessary to meet the economy-wide emission reductions required if we are to have a chance at achieving a two-degree climate mitigation goal,” the governor wrote in a July 17 letter released to The Indiana Gazette on Thursday.

“I have directed the departments of Conservation and Natural Resources, Environmental Protection and Community and Economic Development to work together to explore approaches that we can take to support viable CCUS projects that emerge in the commonwealth,” Wolf continued.

“We are also aware of the opportunities that could arise from Pennsylvania companies seeking funding support from Coal FIRST,” Wolf wrote. “We understand that Washington County-based CONSOL was one of seven selected to proceed with a preliminary front-end engineering and design study towards the development of an advanced carbon capture ready coal-fired power plant.”

The July 17 letter was in response to Pittman’s July 14 letter, to which the Indiana senator attached a copy of the letter dated Feb. 12 regarding CCUS. That letter was regarding the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Energy Technology Laboratory announcing $64 million in federal funding for Carbon Capture Technology research.

The governor’s letter talked of “impacts of climate change” including predictions that “by 2050, Pennsylvania is expected to warm by 5.4 degrees” Fahrenheit.

“By the middle of this century, Philadelphia will feel like Richmond and Pittsburgh will feel like Washington, D.C.,” the letter continued. “Precipitation patterns will also increase by another 8 percent by 2050, with a winter precipitation increase of 14 percent.”

However, the July 17 letter never mentions the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative nor legislation pressed by Pittman and his Indiana County colleague state Rep. Jim Struzzi that would require Pennsylvania involvement in RGGI to be “vetted by the legislature.”

In a statement when Pittman’s letter was announced, a spokeswoman for Wolf said the governor would veto Struzzi’s House Bill 2025 should it reach his desk.

That bill has been passed in the state House and now is pending before the Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee, where Pittman is vice chairman.