Vitali: Budget bill would delay Pa. climate plan

HARRISBURG, Dec. 14 – State Rep. Greg Vitali, D-Delaware/Montgomery, said while the landmark climate change agreement approved Saturday in Paris underscores the urgency of the world to act on climate change, legislation moving through the General Assembly would do just the opposite.

Vitali said the Fiscal Code bill (H.B. 1327), which is part of the overall budget agreement, would further delay state implementation of the federal clean power plan, which is designed to reduce greenhouse gas emission from coal- and gas-fired power plants.

"The EPA passed its regulations in August and it is now dependent on the states to develop their state-specific plans to reduce emissions," said Vitali, the Democratic chairman of the House Environmental Resources and Energy Committee. "Pennsylvania planned to release its plan next September but this bill is part of a continuing strategy of delay by the coal industry."

Additionally, the bill would take $12 million from Alternative Energy Investment Act, which is earmarked for renewable energy and energy-efficient buildings and it uses it to promote natural gas infrastructure development, Vitali said.

"The Alternative Energy Investment Act is dedicated to promoting technologies like solar energy, wind energy and geothermal," Vitali said. "Natural gas is a fossil fuel, and our state needs to start moving away from all fossil fuels and focus on renewable energy.

"This legislation also is blatantly unconstitutional because it violates a provision in the state constitution that requires the content of bill be limited to a single subject. Regrettably, the Senate chose to ignore this constitutional mandate," he said.

Vitali said the Fiscal Code bill passed the Senate last week and is expected to be considered by the House tomorrow or Wednesday. It is unclear whether the governor will sign this bill should it reach his desk.