On Sept. 14, the PA Chamber submitted a memo to the Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee in support of a disapproval resolution of the Wolf administration’s rulemaking to enter Pennsylvania into the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative. The memo notes the Chamber’s outstanding concerns that have not been addressed in the final rulemaking, among them the need to account for leakage to non-RGGI states within the PJM grid and to protect Pennsylvania’s manufacturing and industrial base.
The committee passed the resolution along party lines 7-4. Per the Regulatory Review Act, the full Senate will now have the longer of 10 session days or 30 calendar days to pass the disapproval resolution. 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 left in 2021, it is possible this issue will extend into the end of the first quarter of 2022 or later.
The importance of enacting balanced policy with respect to emissions and energy costs was reinforced last week with the Independent Fiscal Office’s release of a research brief noting Pennsylvania remains the nation’s biggest net exporter of electricity by far. The brief shows a reduction in energy prices over the past five years, correlating to an increase in natural gas’ share of the power generation mix. At the same time, power prices in states participating in RGGI increased. The report also shows the power generation mix in neighboring, non-RGGI states, like Ohio and West Virginia, are more emissions-intensive than Pennsylvania. In short, Pennsylvania’s embrace of competitive markets has to date produced significant reductions in both cost and emissions.