July 8, 2022

Pennsylvania Court Pauses RGGI, Denies Environmental Intervenors

For Immediate Release 
Jared Stonesifer, stonesifer@pennfuture.org

HARRISBURG, PA (July 8, 2022) – Today, the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania granted a preliminary injunction halting the carbon budget and trading rule that allows Pennsylvania to participate in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, or RGGI. This cap-and-invest system would reduce carbon pollution from Pennsylvania’s power plants by up to 227 million tons by 2030, according to the Department of Environmental Protection, as well as add $2 billion to our Gross Domestic Product and 30,000 jobs to our economy. This delay threatens to derail critically-needed investment to address climate change and reduce air pollution across the state. 

The following reaction is from PennFuture Senior Attorney Jessica O’Neill, lead attorney for PennFuture, Clean Air Council, Sierra Club, Environmental Defense Fund, and Natural Resources Defense Council:

“While only temporary, the court’s decision is yet another roadblock and stalling tactic from RGGI opponents.The impact that RGGI will have on the health, safety, and welfare of our members, our climate, and our environment cannot be overstated. Simply put, RGGI will save lives, create jobs, and lower Pennsylvania’s carbon footprint at a time when we need it most. 

“We expect the Department of Environmental Protection to appeal today’s ruling, which means the Supreme Court will have the opportunity to reinstate the RGGI rule. It doesn’t stop here – we will continue to fight. We eagerly anticipate our next opportunity to defend this rule, which will unquestionably save lives by improving air quality and is necessary to cut Pennsylvania’s significant carbon footprint from the power sector.”

The court's opinion can be read in full here. 

On June 28, the Commonwealth Court also denied the environmental groups’ request to intervene in the lawsuits. Ms. O’Neill, on behalf of the organizations, issued the following statement regarding the denial of their intervention in these critical cases:

“By denying our organizations the ability to participate in RGGI litigation, our important environmental interests have been improperly ignored by the Commonwealth Court. We have been working for years to advance necessary regulations to reduce carbon emissions in Pennsylvania, and RGGI is a critical component to reach our goal of net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. We are exploring all options in relation to the denial of our right to participate in these matters and will continue to fight for Pennsylvania’s carbon budget and trade rule and for our constitutional right to clean air.”

The court's opinion on the intervention can be read in full here.

The legal challenges to Pennsylvania’s RGGI rule still remain before the Commonwealth Court in McDonnell v. PA Legis. Review Bd. (41 MD 2022) and Bowfin, et al. v. PA Dept. of Envir. Protection (247 MD 2022).