Chamber Minute

October 2019

Hi, I’m Gene Barr, president of the Pennsylvania Chamber.

Welcome to this month’s Pennsylvania Chamber Minute.

In early October Governor Tom Wolf began the process of entering Pennsylvania into the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative – a “cap and trade” program for power plants in the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast states.  Commonly referred to as RGGI [REGGIE], this initiative requires power plants in the participating states to buy a credit, or “allowance,” for every ton of carbon they emit, with each state capping the amount of allowances available in line with regional goals of reducing CO2 emissions.  These credits can be purchased at regional auctions, or through secondary markets.  Pennsylvania would be the eleventh state to enter into RGGI, which already includes Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island and Vermont.  New Jersey, a former participant, is scheduled to re-enter the program in January of 2020.

As the state moves through the regulatory process – which is expected to take about two years – the PA Chamber is highlighting the fact that time and again, Pennsylvania employers have proven their dedication to environmental awareness by developing innovative solutions to improve efficiency, savings and safety while minimizing water and energy waste at their facilities. Through competitive markets and cleaner burning fuel, Pennsylvania businesses reduced CO2 emissions in the Commonwealth more than any other RGGI state and more than 48 other states in the country.  As Pennsylvania develops its program, it is important that job creators preserve their longstanding freedom to innovate, and maintaining energy choice is a necessary component to any state regulations. 

Throughout this process, we are encouraging legislative input and an analysis of costs to ratepayers and the industry in order to ensure that the Commonwealth’s approach to greenhouse gas regulations is balanced.  Policymakers need to leverage the state’s great energy assets and encourage private sector competition without stifling potential economic growth, and we encourage full evaluation of alternatives, such as trading with states with more similar generation portfolios as ours.  But to be clear, climate change is real and so is the need to have the business community at the table to discuss solutions and consider the tradeoffs. 

Here are your key takeaways from this month’s message:

  • Governor Tom Wolf announced the Commonwealth will be entering into the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative.
  • This initiative is a carbon “cap and trade” program that would require power plants with a certain capacity to buy a credit for every ton of carbon the plant emits.
  • The Pennsylvania Chamber is calling for the business community to be at the negotiating table to discuss how best to proceed to ensure the private sector has the flexibility to innovate creative solutions to lower carbon emissions.

Thanks for spending a minute of your time with the Pennsylvania Chamber, the Statewide Voice of Business.