The Senate Environmental Resources & Energy Committee today (September 14) approved a concurrent resolution disapproving a regulation by the state Environmental Quality Board (EQB) to have Pennsylvania join the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), according to Senator Joe Pittman, committee Vice Chairman.
Prior to the vote, Senator Pittman chided the Democratic members of the committee for turning a deaf ear to the calls from organized labor against RGGI and for deriding efforts to derail the governor’s unilateral edict that Pennsylvania join the compact of otherwise non-energy producing states. Pennsylvania would be the only state to join without legislative approval.
“I for one am more than willing and happy to stand as a fighter for working families. That’s what this is about. This is about working families,” Senator Pittman said. “Some may ridicule this as a waste of time and a waste of resources, but as far as I am concerned, fighting for family sustaining wages is why we are here,”
When the governor announced his unilateral decision to join RGGI in 2019, the carbon tax rate was $5.20 per ton of CO2. Since then, the RGGI tax rate has increased 79 percent to $9.30. Models produced for the state Department of Environmental Protection emphasized that the RGGI tax rate would not surpass $7 per CO2 ton until at least 2025.
Senator Pittman and his Republican colleagues have stressed that the carbon tax would not only violate the state Constitution, which grants exclusive power to the legislative branch to levy taxes, but would also result in the closure of Pennsylvania’s coal-fired power plants and the loss of hundreds of family sustaining jobs.
“For me this is an easy issue because it is about jobs. It’s about family sustaining wages. And yes, it’s somewhat parochial in terms of the district I represent.,” Senator Pittman said. “But all of us in the legislature, regardless of party affiliation and policy, should be very concerned about what we are preparing to do in allowing our executive branch to unilaterally engage in such policy initiatives.”
The resolution now goes to the full Senate for consideration. The Senate has either 10 legislative or 30 calendar days – whichever is longer – to consider the disapproval resolution. If approved, the resolution goes to the House chamber, which also has 10 legislative or 30 calendar days window to pass the resolution and present it to the governor.
If the Governor vetoes the disapproval resolution, it will return to the Senate who may consider overriding the veto. Two-thirds of the Senate must support the resolution to override the veto. The measure then goes to the House where the same two-thirds vote is required.
Even if a veto is not overridden, the process would still be far from complete, Senator Pittman predicted.
“This will go to court because this clearly is a tax and it is clearly a policy decision beyond the scope of their (EQB) regulatory authority,” Senator Pittman said. “The governor will be gone in 16 months and we may well be finding ourselves sitting here in a situation where we will be withdrawing from RGGI before it is ever implemented.”
Contact: Jeremy Dias firstname.lastname@example.org