On Dec. 15, the PA House approved a concurrent resolution by a 130-70 vote that disapproves the Wolf administration’s pending regulation to enter the state into the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, a cap-and-trade program for power plants in the mid-Atlantic and New England. In October, the Senate previously passed the same resolution by a 32-18 vote. The PA Chamber supported the legislative efforts to disapprove the resolution, noting in its memo of support that our outstanding concerns with respect to costs, leakage and impacts to manufacturing were not appropriately considered in the final rulemaking.
For the resolution to take effect and void the regulation, Gov. Wolf must either sign the resolution or let it lapse into law by taking no action, or the General Assembly must overcome his veto with a two-thirds vote in both chambers.
Gov. Wolf is expected to veto the resolution, which will open a window of ten legislative days in each chamber to attempt to override his veto. If the General Assembly cannot muster enough votes in both chambers, the regulation will be published in the Pennsylvania Bulletin, with compliance obligations beginning the start of the next quarter. Once the rule takes effect, DEP is expected to offer a six-month window to affected facilities to modify their operating permits.
The PA House also passed H.B. 1842 last week by a vote of 108-95, which directs the Environmental Quality Board to establish reportable quantities for spills and releases. The Chamber supported this legislation and noted in its memo of support that the Clean Streams Law for decades has directed the Department of Environmental Protection to develop standards of pollution, which it has not done and which has left the regulated community under the duress of an inconsistent enforcement regime of spill reporting.
The PA Chamber also filed comments to DEP this week in response to its redrafted technical guidance on the same issue, again advocating for a reportable quantity framework at the state level.