Key votes on major energy policy issues are expected this week, including preserving access to energy choice, relief of costly federal ethanol mandates, and Gov. Wolf’s efforts to join a regional cap-and-trade program.
The state Senate will vote on a resolution disapproving the Wolf administration’s rulemaking to enter Pennsylvania into the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative.
The PA Chamber sent a memo to the Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee in mid-September supporting the RGGI disapproval resolution. The memo notes outstanding concerns for employers that have not been addressed in the final rulemaking, among them the need to account for leakage (a shift in power to non-RGGI states within the 13-state PJM grid where our state is the No. 1 power producer) in order to protect Pennsylvania’s manufacturing and industrial base. In the years since the governor first announced his intention for the state to join RGGI, the PA Chamber has continually expressed support for a balanced energy and environmental policy, recognized the impact of greenhouse gas emissions on climate change and the potential for market-based approaches to be more efficient than command-and-control regulatory schemes.
SCR1 was passed by the Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee in June. Per the Regulatory Review Act, the Senate was given the longer of 10 session days or 30 calendar days to pass it. If it passes, the House will then also have the longer of 10 session days or 30 calendar days to pass it as well, and present it to Gov. Wolf for approval. The regulation will only be retracted if the governor signs the resolution – a highly unlikely scenario – or if the legislature overcomes his veto with a two-thirds majority vote. Given there are not 20 legislative days remaining on the session calendar in 2021, it is probable that this issue will extend into the first quarter of 2022 or later.
Senate Bill 119, which passed the Senate in June, would require legislative approval to join multi-state carbon trading programs like RGGI. If neither S.B. 119 nor the disapproval resolutions are enacted, Pennsylvania will join RGGI the quarter following the publication of the final rule in the Pennsylvania Bulletin.
Also scheduled for a vote this week in the state House is H.R. 148, urging the Biden administration to provide administrative relief to costly energy mandates that require refiners to blend a certain amount of ethanol into their products or secure expensive credits. These mandates raise the cost of gasoline and diesel, as well as food, and are threatening the financial viability of the few remaining refiners in the northeastern United States, which employ thousands of workers.
House Bill 1947 is also scheduled for a committee vote in the House Local Government Committee. The measure is companion legislation to S.B. 275 and preserves the prerogative for state policymakers to set energy policy. The legislation prohibits local governments from impeding a property owner to have access to utility service or the energy resource of their choosing.