Vitali holds public hearing on climate change and joining the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative

HAVERTOWN, Nov. 1 – State Rep. Greg Vitali, D-Delaware/Montgomery, today hosted a hearing of the House Democratic Policy Committee to discuss Pennsylvania joining the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative.  

“Joining RGGI is the single most important thing Pennsylvania can do to combat climate change,” said Vitali, Democratic chairman of the Environmental Resources and Energy Committee.

The RGGI is a 10-state cap-and-trade program designed to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from the electric power sector.

Speakers included Franz Litzprincipal, Litz Energy Strategies, LLC; Chris Hoaglend, program manager, Maryland Department of Environment;  M. Gary Helmlead market strategist, PJM Interconnection; Patrick McDonnell, secretary, Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection; John Hangerpresident, Hanger Consulting, LLC; Mark Szybistsenior attorney, Climate and Clean Energy Program, Natural Resources Defense Council; Tanya McCloskey, acting consumer advocate, Pennsylvania Office of Consumer Advocate; and Andrew Williamsdirector, regulatory and legislative affairs, Environmental Defense Fund.

All speakers presenting at the hearing were supportive of Pennsylvania joining RGGI.

Acting Consumer Advocate Tanya McCloskey remarked, “I believe that using our generation market mechanisms through a program like RGGI is the best means to achieve these goals in the most cost-effective manner.”

"Governor Wolf took a necessary step when he committed to placing a binding, declining limit on power-sector carbon pollution," said Andrew Williams, director of regulatory and legislative affairs for Environmental Defense Fund. "With the goal of limiting carbon, Pennsylvania can implement a plan that incentivizes competition and allows the market to determine the best and most efficient outcome, while ensuring real emissions reductions and creating value for commonwealth residents."

“Maryland has benefited greatly from RGGI, and we want our neighbors in Pennsylvania to benefit, as well,” said Chris Hoagland of the Maryland Department of the Environment.

NRDC’s Mark Szybist stated, “By establishing carbon limits, participating in RGGI’s trading markets, and legislating stronger commitments to renewable energy and energy efficiency, Pennsylvania can shape its energy markets so that they produce electricity that is not just affordable and reliable, but also clean.”

Hanger Consulting’s John Hanger said, “The closure of TMI is bad enough. Yet, unfortunately, more closures of nuclear units in Pennsylvania will happen, unless Pennsylvania joins RGGI. We are allowing polluters to use the atmosphere as a dumping ground for free. I urge Pennsylvania to join RGGI as quickly as possible.”

Representatives from the natural gas industry and the coal industry were invited. They declined and did not submit testimony.

Visit www.pahouse.com/policycommittee for Policy Committee materials.

On Oct. 3, Gov. Tom Wolf signed an executive order directing the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection to develop regulations establishing a RGGI-compatible program in order to present them to the environmental quality board by June of 2020.