State lawmakers took action on a number of energy-related bills last week – the most notable of which was a disapproval resolution regarding the Wolf Administration’s plan to have Pennsylvania join the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, a hotly debated CO2 budget trading program for power plants.
As RGGI has moved through the process, the PA Chamber has regularly communicated to lawmakers, the Independent Regulatory Review Commission and the Environmental Quality Board the need to guard against displacing generation to non-RGGI states in the 13-state PJM grid, to protect our state’s industrial base and our lead role as an electricity exporter, and to be explicit about the costs of entering into the initiative.
In a memo to the Senate, the PA Chamber urged the disapproval resolution’s advancement, since the final-form RGGI regulation from the Environmental Quality Board does not meaningfully address the concerns that have been raised by the business community. Having passed the Senate, the House also has the longer of 10 session days or 30 calendar days to pass the resolution and present it to Gov. Wolf. As it is likely he will veto the resolution, a two-thirds majority vote in the General Assembly would be needed to override the governor’s veto – an action that could be anticipated in the first quarter of 2022 or later.
House and Senate lawmakers also took action last week on identical bills in their respective chambers that would allow business and individual energy consumers to choose the utility and energy source that best meets their needs. Senate Bill 275 and H.B. 1947 – which are both known as the “Energy Choice Act,” would offer consumers the continued assurance that municipal government will not unduly interfere with their ability to make their own energy choices. The PA Chamber sent memos to the state Senate prior to its passage of S.B. 275 and to the House Local Government Committee before committee lawmakers voted to advance H.B. 1947, voicing support for the measures.
“Access to gas service is also vital to local economic development efforts and residential customers should be afforded access to it as well, as infrastructure buildout continues in the state,” the memos expressed. The PA Chamber had previously provided perspective regarding this legislation in written comments for a joint public hearing, where we urged support of the “Energy Choice Act”. Senate Bill 275 and H.B. 1947 both await further consideration by the House.
Lastly, the PA Chamber sent a memo last week to lawmakers on the House Environmental Resources and Energy Committee urging a “yes” vote on H.R. 148, which urges the federal government to reduce Renewable Fuel Standard volume requirements to provide relief to refiners in southeastern Pennsylvania. This bipartisan measure was crafted with recognition to the significant financial burdens refineries face as they work to produce transportation fuels to a number of industries.
“Gov. Wolf has filed a hardship waiver with the federal Environmental Protection Agency requesting relief from these onerous federal mandates, and members of Pennsylvania’s federal delegation in both parties are supporting this request for reform,” the memo stated. “Business and labor groups are also aligned in supporting this request for relief, and we ask you to join the 47 members of the Pennsylvania State Senate who earlier this year passed a similar resolution.”