(The Center Square) — The defeat of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) in a nearby state has given hope to opponents in Pennsylvania that the carbon pricing program can be stopped before it begins in the commonwealth.
In Virginia, the state’s Air Pollution Control Board voted 4–3 to withdraw from RGGI, after the General Assembly passed a resolution to join it in 2020. Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin had called RGGI — which requires energy producers to buy credits that limit how much carbon dioxide they can release — a “failed program” and vowed to remove Virginia from the multi-state compact.
Virginia Democrats were highly critical of the move and a legal challenge is expected to follow.
In Pennsylvania, the future of RGGI remains mired in court, but legislative Republicans have hope that action in Virginia will help them defeat it.
“Today’s decision by Virginia’s Air Board to repeal the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) is a glaring example of yet another state to recognize that RGGI is nothing but an oppressive carbon tax,” Sen. Gene Yaw, R-Williamsport, said in a press release on Wednesday. “Residents across RGGI’s eleven states are being deceived into paying for their economic demise, all under the guise of lowered emissions.”
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The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative is mostly composed of states with a small energy sector; Pennsylvania’s entrance would make it the largest energy producer to join the compact. Yaw, a longtime opponent of RGGI, argued that it’s a threat to the economy that doesn’t benefit the environment.
“In Pennsylvania, the threat of RGGI has driven fossil fuel plants out of existence, halted the construction of new natural gas power plants, and handcuffed businesses from making further investments with an uncertain regulatory future,” Yaw said. “Even if implemented, RGGI would have virtually no positive effect on the environment.”
Environmental groups, however, argue that the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative would be a boon for the commonwealth.
“Our analysis demonstrated that Pennsylvania stands to benefit economically from participating in RGGI by generating revenues that exceed the impact on wholesale power prices and by increasing the amount of federal clean energy tax credit funding that flows to Pennsylvania,” a report from Synapse Energy Economics argued. “Notably, Pennsylvania realizes a cumulative $1.5 billion in electricity cost savings between 2025 and 2030 by participating in RGGI.”
Anthony Hennen is a reporter for The Center Square. Previously, he worked for Philadelphia Weekly and the James G. Martin Center for Academic Renewal. He is managing editor of Expatalachians, a journalism project focused on the Appalachian region.
This article was republished with permission from The Center Square.