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Court suspends governor’s efforts to allow state to join RGGI

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Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf’s plan for the state to enter the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) suffered a setback this week when the Court of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania halted publication of the final rule.

In a one-sentence order on Tuesday, the court said: “Processing of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative settlement for publication in the Pennsylvania Bulletin is suspended pending a further order from the Yard.”

The release of the regulatory settlement scheduled for Saturday would have brought Pennsylvania into the RGGI, a multistate carbon tax agreement, through the regulatory process rather than legislative approval. The regulation would have required power plants powered by fossil fuels to pay a price per tonne for their carbon dioxide emissions.

Republicans in the state legislature had passed a measure preventing the state from joining the RGGI, but Wolf vetoed the legislation. On Monday, the state Senate failed to override the veto. Republicans had previously sought an injunction preventing the publication of the settlement while the matter made its way through the courts.

A hearing on that dispute is scheduled for May 4. The new court order prohibits the Wolf administration from releasing the final settlement until the litigation is resolved.

Republican leaders praised the court for its decision, saying all other RGGI states entered with the approval of their legislatures and a bipartisan majority of Pennsylvania lawmakers still voted against the issue.

Senate Chairman Pro Tempore Jake Corman (R-Bellefonte), Senate Majority Leader Kim Ward (R-Westmoreland), Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Pat Browne (R-Lehigh) and Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Environmental Resources and Energy Gene Yaw (R-Lycoming) applauded the court’s decision.

“Governor Wolf’s approach to this issue violates the Constitution by attempting to usurp the powers that are vested in the General Assembly,” the senators wrote in a joint statement. “We can’t allow him to change the rules just because he doesn’t like the outcome. We appreciate that the court has halted this troubled policy until all legal issues can be addressed on the merits. .

The senators said the settlement will increase electricity costs for state residents.

“The Governor’s attempt to unilaterally enter Pennsylvania into the RGGI would put even more financial pressure on Pennsylvania families with increased electricity bills at a time when they are already struggling due to inflation and political anti-energetics from Governor Wolf and President Biden,” the senators said. wrote. “We need an energy strategy that makes the best use of our natural resources and unlocks the full potential of our economy – not crippling in the name of political ideology.”