The Pennsylvania Independent Regulatory Review Commission (IRRC) approved Pennsylvania’s participation in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) on September 1st by a vote of 3-2. Established in 2008, RGGI is a bipartisan multi-state program that addresses carbon pollution by setting a cap on carbon emissions from power plants, which is lowered each year. It is considered the most successful state-level program for reducing global warming pollution in the nation. Currently, 11 Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states (Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia) participate in this program.
This decision follows nearly two years of regulatory review and public input, including a public comment period at the end of 2020 that showed Pennsylvanians overwhelmingly support joining this program. In addition, the Environmental Quality Board voted earlier this summer to adopt the final rulemaking as well. While the September 1st decision marks the final step in the regulatory process, legal and legislative challenges are expected throughout the fall.
PennEnvironment Research & Policy Center’s Executive Director David Masur issued the following statement in response to the vote:
“Today’s vote by the Independent Regulatory Review Commission reflects what climate experts, health professionals and Pennsylvanians have been saying for almost two years: We must take proactive steps to reduce global warming pollution, and RGGI is one of those critical steps.
“The vote by the IRRC in support of RGGI is that final sprint to the finish line in what feels like a two-year-long marathon regulatory process to get Pennsylvania to join this important climate program. An incredible amount of research, public input and dialogue was done to make the case that joining RGGI is one that Pennsylvanians should be proud of because it’s essential in the fight against climate change.
“We’re proud that Pennsylvania is one step closer to joining this bipartisan, proven program for reducing climate pollution.
“Given the massive amount of public input, thorough research and far-reaching expertise put into this process, we hope that polluters and their political allies stop attempting to put up roadblocks to participating in this program and get on the bandwagon in support of strong policies that will reduce our carbon footprint to solve the climate crisis.”