Environmentalists on both sides of the Mason Dixon line are breathing a sign of relief as PA’s Independent Regulatory Review Commission (IRRC) voted to approve regulations required to join the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI).
On Wednesday, the IRRC voted on a CO2 Budget Trading Program. This vote was one of the last steps in Governor Wolf’s push to bring the Commonwealth into RGGI and would help meet his plan to reduce state carbon emissions by 25% by 2025, and 80% by 2050.
RGGI is a “cooperative, market-based effort among the states of Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Virginia to cap and reduce CO2 emissions from the power sector. It represents the first cap-and-invest regional initiative implemented in the United States” (RGGI)
The IRRC’s approval of the CO2 Budget Trading Program represents a significant win for Maryland and Pennsylvania environmentalists. The Susquehanna River, which flows through much of Eastern and Central Pennsylvania and empties into the Chesapeake Bay, is just one prime example of how the fates of these two great states are intertwined.
To finalize PA joining RGGI, the regulations will next be sent to the Attorney General, who will review them and give final approval. The Governor hopes to join RGGI by early 2022, but administration officials have noted concerns regarding potential legal challenges. Key voices in the Republican-dominated General Assembly have also voiced consideration of legislation aimed at blocking the Governor’s plan.