Harrisburg, PA – (April 22, 2022) After two and a half years of public comment, legislative votes, and expert review, Pennsylvania’s first cap-and-invest climate change program will go into effect, significantly addressing the state’s carbon pollution emissions.
Publication of the CO2 Budget Trading Rule in the Pennsylvania Bulletin finalizes Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) regulations that establish a robust market-based program and align Pennsylvania’s program with the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI).
“Finalizing this transformative climate policy is a victory for all of Pennsylvania and future generations,” said Jacquelyn Bonomo, President & CEO of PennFuture. “Pennsylvania is responsible for 4 percent of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions and 1 percent of global emissions. This cap-and-invest program will deeply cut into Pennsylvania’s pollution by limiting what comes from our dirtiest power plants.”
DEP’s CO2 Budget Trading Program is an essential step to decarbonize Pennsylvania’s electricity sector. Using the proven RGGI model, Pennsylvania will cap carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from fossil-fuel powered electric generation, such as coal and fracked gas power plants that currently don’t pay for the pollution they emit, leveling the playing field for clean energy producers.
Polluting facilities covered by these new regulations are given a “budget” of CO2 emissions and must obtain, by purchase or trade, allowances to pollute through either the quarterly RGGI auctions or the secondary market. Models estimate auction proceeds would direct $2 billion over the next decade to clean air initiatives all across the Commonwealth.
The 11 current RGGI-member states have so far reduced CO2 emissions by 47 percent. RGGI is credited for creating 45,000 jobs, adding $4 billion in economic value across the region. In Pennsylvania, RGGI is expected to result in a net increase of more than 30,000 new jobs.
When Pennsylvania becomes the 12th state to align with RGGI, the cap-and-invest program will instantly become the most promising program to support the state’s coal-dependent communities in their transition to a clean energy economy.
“Coal plants are closing due to anemic profits and their own inability to compete with low-cost renewable energy and fracked gas. Aligning with RGGI offers a financial lifeline for coal-dependent communities,” said Rob Altenburg, PennFuture’s Senior Director for Energy and Climate. “The General Assembly should lead this historic moment by passing The Energy Transition and Recovery Act (SB15), which would broaden the types of programs that can receive RGGI auction proceeds. Such programs could offer worker support as well as assistance for Pennsylvania’s coal-dependent communities to find new sources of livelihoods that do not lean on failing coal plants.”
With publication of the CO2 Budget Trading Program, Pennsylvania is set to participate in the September and December RGGI auctions. More than 40.7 million credits will be made available, translating to an estimated $550 million of potential proceeds in the program’s first year based on current auction prices.
PennFuture is Pennsylvania’s leading environmental advocacy organization with offices in Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Harrisburg, Erie and East Stroudsburg. We are protecting our air, water and land, and empowering citizens to build sustainable communities for future generations.
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