PAC Questions the Benefit of the Commonwealth Entering the Regional Green House Gas Initiative

The Pennsylvania Anthracite Council has questioned the benefit of Pennsylvania’s planned entry into the multi-state Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI).

In its comments to the Pennsylvania Environmental Quality Board (EQB), the PAC argued that the Administration has not provided an adequate explanation showing a “compelling public interest that justifies the regulation “and the state’s entry into RIGGI. The PAC argues that regulators have overlooked some basic facts and information that dispel their claims.

According the United State Energy Information Administration (EIA) from 2009 to 2016, Pennsylvania’s three major energy sources of coal, natural gas and petroleum from all sectors of the economy introduced a combined1.92 billon metric tons of GHG into the atmosphere.

However, since 2009 coal use in Pennsylvania and the emissions that accompany its use entered into a steep decline. While coal still accounted for 51% of GHG emissions in the Electric Power Sector in 2016, its total emissions within that sector had declined by 86.5% since 2009 to its lowest levels ever.

Further, according to EIA figures, by 2016 total GHG emissions from burning coal accounted for just 31.5% of total of all GHG emissions in the state and for the first time was less than both natural gas and petroleum.

Additionally, Vincent Brisini, a former Deputy Secretary with the DEP Bureau of Air Quality and current Director of Environmental Affairs with Olympus Power provided comments to the Joint Environmental Committee pointing out that “Pennsylvania electric generators have reduced carbon dioxide emissions 33.2% from 2005 emission levels while at the same time maintaining over 30% of the electricity generating being exported to other states that no longer or never did generate enough electricity for their own needs.”

He further went on to point out that “the 33.2% reduction exceeds the targets set by Governor Wolf, the Paris accords and even the vacated clean power plan all well ahead of their respective levels.” As other industrial nations like the United States, Canada and the European Union bow to mounting social pressure and move to other fuel sources, China continues to increase its coal power generating capacity.

In fact, according to the non-profit organization, “Global Energy Monitor (GEM),” China has nearly 148 gigawatts of coal-fired plants either being built or likely to be revived, a figure that is roughly equal to the European Union’s existing coal power capacity. Considering this capacity, the Chinese government may increase its coal power cap from 1,100 GW to 1,400 GW.

Finally, the PAC pointed out that adopting RGGI by Executive Order is like building a house on shifting sand, without sinking pylons to anchor it in place. If RGGI can be adopted by the stroke of the Governor’s pen then it can likewise be erased by the courts and if not by them, then by stroke of our next governor’s pen if he or she chooses. Instead, the PAC pointed out that it makes more sense for the administration to work with the legislature who is also elected to represent the people to find a reasonable compromise on this issue.

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