The global warming doomsday radicals ratchet up their rhetoric, Washington DC is all talk of the New Green Deal, enter Governor Wolf and his questionable action to have Pennsylvania join RGGI and one can wonder what happened to prudent realistic energy policy.
No matter all the concern for immediate climate action, we still need fossil fuels and we should not be afraid to admit this as fact and plan accordingly. The federal administration attempts to retard and retire domestic production of oil and gas. At the same time it refuses to sanction the Nord Stream 2 pipeline carrying natural gas from Russia to Germany and continues to enable OPEC and Russia to dictate the price of oil.
Again what is the rationale to disregard the fact Pennsylvania has an abundance of clean natural gas that assures us lower overall emissions and carbon reduction in the years to come. Governor Wolf espouses a different plan. He wants our state to join the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, RGGI. RGGI is a group of 11 northeastern and Mid-Atlantic States that seek to reduce greenhouse gas emissions with an introduction of a carbon tax. Fossil fuel burning plants would have to purchase credits to offset their carbon-dioxide emissions. By executive order he has willfully ignored due process and bypassed the state legislature. Pennsylvania is the only state, if it were to join RGGI that makes more power than it uses exporting electric power out of state, and it is also the only state that proposes to join by executive action and not by approval of the state legislature. It is argued there were virtual public hearings and support from various review groups and boards. On July thirteenth the Pennsylvania Environmental Quality Board voted in favor to join RGGI by a vote of 15 to 4. Ten of the yes votes are Governor Wolf appointees along with a southeastern democrat state senator and state representative. Difficult to call this an impartial or unbiased board.
State senators are calling the Governor’s action questionable and some say totally illegal because Wolf is imposing a tax not a fee and therefore cannot be enacted without legislative approval. In response the state senate recently passed Senate Bill 119 which will create the Pennsylvania Carbon Dioxide Cap and Trade Authorization Act which if passed by the house will prohibit the Department of Environmental Protection from joining RGGI without legislative approval. According to one of the bill supporters Republican Senator Gene Yaw, “a carbon tax is a major energy and fiscal policy initiative that-if it is imposed on Pennsylvania employers and ratepayers – must be approved by the General Assembly”. Countering Senator Yaw was democratic Senator Carolyn Comitta from West Chester, who is one of the members of the EQB who voted yes to join. She said joining RGGI will Pennsylvania not only survive in the clean energy economy but to grow and succeed.
But back to what is realistic and prudent and which Pennsylvania State should prevail. How sensible is it in western Pennsylvania to embrace solar where the sun shines less than Seattle Washington? Again how prudent is the policy that embraces more expensive and less reliable forms of electric generation? Much of Pennsylvania due to geology and geography is part of a three state region that has abundant clean natural gas, with the Marcellus and Utica region now regarded as being one of the most cost effective energy sources in the world. Prudent development of this domestic natural resource over an extended period of time would provide Pennsylvania with a low cost, predictable and sustainable energy supply. It would guarantee positive employment continuity, generous tax revenues, with life cycle costs, and carbon footprints arguably comparable to the touted renewables. Instead the lowland Governor along with his supportive board ignore the arguments of good common energy sense, and balancing future climate action by utilizing to its fullest potential clean natural gas. Perhaps rather than embracing RGGI Pennsylvanians should look west and join with the states of Ohio and West Virginia and collaboratively support development of natural gas. Thereby together use improving technology, best engineering practices and environmentally sound management to produce and supply natural gas to help reduce and control greenhouse gas emissions. The debate goes on.