Governor Shapiro is appealing a blocking plan to make power plants pay for greenhouse gases
In a Nov. 1 decision, a 4-1 majority in the Commonwealth Court agreed with Republican lawmakers and coal-related interests who argued that Wolf’s carbon pricing plan amounts to a tax and therefore requires legislative approval.
Opponents said Wolf, a Democrat, sought to circumvent legislative opposition by unconstitutionally imposing the requirement through regulation.
The regulation allowed Pennsylvania to join the multi-state Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, which imposes a reduced price and cap on carbon dioxide emissions from power plants.
Shapiro has criticized it, but has not said definitively whether he would enforce it, should he win in court. Shapiro’s letter to lawmakers Tuesday also did not describe the need to combat climate change.
Instead, he put it in different terms, calling it “common sense energy policy” and saying he would sign another carbon pricing plan, if it wins legislative approval.
“If legislative leaders choose to engage in constructive dialogue, the Governor is confident we can agree on a stronger alternative to RGGI,” Shapiro’s office said in the statement. “If they take the ball and go home, they will choose not to advance a common-sense energy policy that protects jobs, the environment and consumers in Pennsylvania.”
Such a plan still has no chance of passing the state Legislature, where the Republican-controlled Senate is protecting its hometown coal and natural gas industries in the nation’s No. 2 gas state.
Republican lawmakers praised the court’s decision to block the regulation and urged Shapiro not to appeal it.
Instead, Republicans pushed to open up greater energy production opportunities in the state.
In the House, where Democrats hold a one-seat majority, no carbon pricing plan has been reached, nor has Shapiro’s more specific clean energy goal — a pledge to ensure Pennsylvania uses 30% of its electricity from renewables by 2030 — come to a vote. .
Supporters of the regulation included environmental advocates as well as solar, wind and nuclear energy producers.
They called it the largest move ever taken in Pennsylvania to combat climate change, and said it would have generated hundreds of millions of dollars annually to promote climate-friendly energy sources and lower electricity bills through energy conservation programs.
Critics said the regulation would increase electricity bills, hurt in-state energy producers and push new power generation to other states while doing little to combat climate change.
Opponents included natural gas interests, industrial and commercial energy users, and labor unions whose members build and maintain pipelines, power plants, and refineries.