Pennsylvania One Step Closer to Joining RGGI Despite Negatives

The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) has been the source of much controversy in Pennsylvania. The state legislature has persistently tried to pass legislation blocking Governor Wolf from pushing Pennsylvania into the initiative. They have even gone as far as refuse to confirm appointments to the Public Utility Commission, which currently has a vacancy and split control, but the governor has refused to relent.

RGGI is a program that seeks to limit greenhouse gas emissions; the cap-and-trade initiative includes Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont and Virginia thus far. Pennsylvania is the only state in the Mid-Atlantic and northeast regions with a self-sufficient energy industry that will undoubtedly be hurt by joining. Other members have notoriously chosen to import sanctioned Russian energy to meet local needs, which is hardly an equitable tradeoff. 

As the Allegheny Institute notes, RGGI rules require fossil-fueled electric power generators with a capacity of 25 megawatts (MW) or greater to buy allowances equal to their carbon dioxide emission caps. This initiative was created to replace fossil fuels with untested and more costly sources of energy.

If Pennsylvania is to join RGGI, the carbon tax would annihilate benefits created through the development of the Marcellus Shale, which makes Pennsylvania the nation’s second-largest natural gas producer after Texas. Pennsylvania is the third-largest net supplier of energy to other states, after Wyoming and Texas, with a robust state economy. However, being a part of RGGI would greatly inhibit the state from generating its projected +$800 billion in annual GDP without this industry.

RGGI is just another tax vehicle under the guise of a benevolent environmental agenda. Pipelines pushing natural gas and oil are far more environment-friendly than other form of transportation. To be more environmentally conscious and bolster the economy at the same time, the state of Pennsylvania needs to be supporting and increasing effective energy infrastructure within the state.