Senator Pittman Grills DEP Chief on Impacts of RGGI, Carbon Tax

Speaking at today’s (March 11) Senate Appropriations Committee budget hearing with the Department of Environmental Resources (DEP), Senator Joe Pittman strongly criticized the Wolf Administration for its failure to work with communities that would be devastated by the Carbon Tax that would be imposed under the Governor’s plan to join the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative.

“In the 19 months since the Governor started this process, I have had two conversations with you. That’s it.,” Senator Pittman told DEP Secretary Patrick McDonnell. “The Governor has yet to step foot in my district. The Governor has yet to have any conversations with me about substantive results to fix the economic and public education devastation that you’re going to implement on my communities. My county commissioners had one phone call in 19 months” (after multiple requests on their part) “and all we hear is affected communities will be engaged. You haven’t engaged us.”

On October 3, 2019, Governor Wolf directed the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to join RGGI — a collaboration of nine Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states. The states (Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island, and Vermont) set a cap on total Carbon Dioxide (CO2) emissions from electric power generators in their states. In order to comply, power plants must purchase a credit or “allowance” for each ton of CO2 they emit. Pennsylvania would be the only state in the compact with a substantial number of coal or natural gas power energy production facility.

Under questioning from Senator Pittman, Secretary McDonnell admitted that the carbon tax under RGGI would only be collected if coal-fired electric plants continued to operate.

“Candidly, it’s why the communities I represent look at this as nothing more than monopoly money —because we don’t believe it’s going to be there,” Senator Pittman said. “The only way it’s going to be there is if we continue to emit carbon and we lose the ability to have our planet saved. I think the whole concept of this is pretty incongruent.”

Senator Pittman added that the Administration has made no effort to mitigate the sweeping impacts that would occur if the Carbon Tax resulted in closure of the power plants in his district.

“If you are about ready to implement RGGI and kill my communities, the time for conversation is over,” Senator Pittman said. “Where are my jobs? Where are my solar panels? Where are my windmill workers? Where are my jobs and, oh by the way, where is the funding for public schools – because you are going to rip the heart out of my public schools.”


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