Senators Criticize Governor’s Unilateral Decision to Tax Carbon

HARRISBURG – Senators Joe Pittman, Gene Yaw and Dave Argall reiterated their legislative proposal requiring General Assembly approval should a tax be imposed on Pennsylvania employers. From their co-sponsor memorandum of September 17, 2019, the Senators stated that a carbon tax is a major energy and fiscal policy initiative.

After the Governor signed an Executive Order today to join into a multi-state compact, such as the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, the Senators question the Constitutional authority of the Governor’s order, citing the checks and balances between branches of government in Pennsylvania.

The Senators have proposed legislation to describe the process for legislative approval before Pennsylvania imposes a carbon tax on employers engaged in electric generation, manufacturing or other industries operating in the Commonwealth.

“I am deeply disappointed in the Governor’s decision today to unilaterally move forward with entering Pennsylvania into the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, which taxes all carbon-emitting sources of generation and puts Pennsylvania generators at a competitive disadvantage against our neighboring state,” said Senator Pittman. “The 41st Senatorial District provides thousands of family sustaining jobs through the generation of affordable, reliable, and resilient coal and waste coal electricity.  The coal and waste coal electric plants in the 41st district employ close to 800 individuals at a salary well above the statewide average. While the Governor often touts his mantra “Jobs that Pay,” he has unfortunately chosen to disregard these fine men and women, and their families, in favor of supporting an unnecessary and expensive trading scheme.  I choose to stand with and fight for these hard working men and women and will continue to advocate for policies that ensure the future of these important electric plants.”

“There are a lot of unanswered questions as to what entering RGGI would entail for the citizens of Pennsylvania,” said Senator Yaw.  “Perhaps the most important is “cost.” How is this going to impact industry?  We have numerous gas fired power plants, as well as coal.  What is the impact going to be on the petrochemical cracker plant in Beaver County? I support efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but it is worth noting that, since RGGI began trading allowances in 2009, the current nine RGGI states have reduced carbon emissions by 17%, while Pennsylvania has reduced carbon emissions by 28%.  This was accomplished all without government mandate and at great savings to consumers. Furthermore, it is clear to me we have very little in common with New York, New Jersey, and the New England states.  Maybe we have more of an interest with Ohio and West Virginia, especially when it comes to coal and natural gas.  How can we have a common interest with New York and the New England region when they prohibit the importation of our gas?  They thumb their nose at Pennsylvania gas and embrace and purchase gas from Russia. For a step of this magnitude, which affects consumers, business, industry and public policy – the legislature, who represents the citizens of this state, must be involved in the dialogue on joining RGGI.  It cannot be a unilateral decision.”

Senator Argall stated, “Governor Wolf recently sent a letter to Washington in support of the struggling coal refuse industry and the need for federal legislation to assist the operations of these plants, and now he flipped his stance to tax their operations.”


Carlton Logue (Senator Pittman)

Nicholas E. Troutman (Senator Yaw)

Joshua J. Paul (Senator Argall)

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