Public comment period opens for draft RGGI rule

  • Rachel McDevitt

State regulators plan to hold ten virtual public hearings on a proposed rule that would have Pennsylvania join a regional effort to curb greenhouse gas emissions.

It’s the next step in a long process for joining the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), which has been a topic of hot debate at the state capitol.

Through an executive order, Democratic Governor Tom Wolf directed the Department of Environmental Protection to join RGGI by regulation. Republicans who control the state legislature have tried to stop it, claiming RGGI will harm the state’s fossil fuel economy–especially in coal-dependent areas.

Supporters of joining say it would be an important step to mitigate climate change and help grow the economy.

A big part of RGGI’s impact depends on how states spend the money it raises.

The agreement among ten northeastern states sets a limit on carbon dioxide emissions from power plants and charges generators for each ton of CO2 they emit.

Pennsylvania expects to bring in about $300 million through the program in the first year.

While the Department of Environmental Protection hasn’t yet detailed the plan for that revenue, money from the program would go into the state’s Clean Air Fund and could go to energy efficiency, clean energy, and greenhouse gas reduction measures.

Pennsylvania is the fourth largest emitter of greenhouse gases in the country. Regulators said they have a compelling interest to reduce emissions to address climate change and protect public health and the environment.

The draft rulemaking was published in the Nov. 7 edition of the Pennsylvania Bulletin.

A DEP spokesman said they scheduled ten virtual hearings to accommodate the high level of public interest in the rule. Hearings are slated from December 8-14, with sessions scheduled for the morning, afternoon, and evening.

People can also submit written comments until January 14th, 2021 by using DEP’s eComment, emailing RegComments@pa.gov, or mailing to: Environmental Quality Board, P.O. Box 8477, Harrisburg, PA 17105-8477.

Instructions for submitting a comment can also be found on DEP’s website.

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