Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative
The Pennsylvania Environmental Quality Board (EQB) is now accepting comments on the proposal for Pennsylvania to take part in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative to reduce climate change pollution from electric power plants. Comments may be submitted through the eComment system. Comments will be accepted through January 14, 2021.
The EQB will also host 10 virtual public hearings beginning December 8 through December 14, 2020. All comments received whether written or in spoken testimony are given equal weight.
For more information, including how to register to present testimony at a hearing, please see the EQB webpage.
RGGI is an initiative of 10 New England and Mid-Atlantic states, to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the power sector while generating economic growth. Together Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York Rhode Island and Vermont cap and reduce their power sector carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. This is achieved by setting a regional cap or limit on carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from electric power plants in the participating states.
Support for RGGI
Qualifying power plants must acquire CO2 allowances equal to the amount of CO2 emitted. And while each state has its own allowance budget, the only firm cap is the regional one. Entities in each of the qualifying states can purchase and trade allowances- allowing for the most efficient and cost-effective emissions reductions. Also since RGGI is a market-based approach, the quarterly auction sets the price for the purchase of allowances- ensuring transparency. Furthermore the revenue from the quarterly auctions are returned to the states for reinvestment in efficiency, and other GHG reduction programs that further reduce power sector emissions.
Governor Wolf states that climate change is the most critical environmental threat confronting the world, and given that power generation is one of the largest contributors to greenhouse gas emissions, it is time to take concrete, economically sound and immediate steps to reduce emissions. The
Pennsylvania Climate Action Plan detailed the many steps to reduce emissions and recommended that Pennsylvania create a cap-and-trade program for the electricity generation sector. To do so,
Governor Wolf recently signed an Executive Order that directed DEP to begin a rulemaking process that will allow Pennsylvania to participate in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), with the goal of reducing carbon emissions from the electricity sector.
By participating in RGGI Pennsylvania will reduce climate pollution from carbon emissions by a massive 188 million tons by 2030. Emission of other harmful pollutants like nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxide, and particulate matter emissions will also drop significantly. These reductions will particularly benefit those most often impacted by marginal air quality, such as children and at-risk seniors, especially in low income and environmental justice communities.
Air pollution reductions:
Carbon pollution – 188,000,000 tons
Nitrogen Oxide pollution – 112,000 tons
Sulfur Dioxide pollution – 67,000 tons
Reducing carbon pollution isn’t the only benefit of RGGI. The health benefits of the reduced sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide emissions are significant - up to $6.3 billion by 2030, averaging between $232 million to $525 million per year. Additionally, DEP estimates that through 2030:
- Up to 639 premature deaths from respiratory illnesses will be prevented due to emission reductions resulting directly from RGGI participation
- 30,000 fewer hospital visits for respiratory illnesses like asthma for children and adults
- Adults would be healthier as well which results in over 83,000 avoided lost workdays due to health impacts
Explore the Health Benefits Data here.
DEP’s modeling estimates that from 2022 to 2030, participating in RGGI would lead to an increase in Gross State Product of nearly $2 billion and a net increase of over 27,000 jobs in this Commonwealth. The results also show that overall citizens of this Commonwealth could see a cumulative increase in Disposable Personal Income of $3.7 billion by 2050. These estimates are at the low end because they do not include investments of RGGI revenues in things like energy efficiency improvements for businesses and homeowners, economic support for communities that see changes resulting from changing electricity generation and usage, and clean energy sources.
Support for RGGI
Many groups and individuals from across Pennsylvania support reducing climate change pollution by linking up with RGGI.
RGGI Modeling Results
The Department has hired an expert modeling consultant to identify how Pennsylvania would be affected by RGGI participation. Explore the data and presentations below to see how Pennsylvania will benefit by participating in RGGI.
Read about the Department’s modeling process in this Modeling Report. You can further explore the data and presentations below to see how Pennsylvania will benefit by participating in RGGI.
Stakeholder Engagement and Public Outreach
In Executive Order 2019-07, Governor Wolf explicitly directed the Department to conduct a robust public outreach effort while developing this rulemaking. The Department is doing so in many ways, including the events below that, although only reflecting a portion of the outreach being conducted, are useful in following the progress of this proposed rulemaking. You can learn about how the Department will continue to engage through the rulemaking process in our
Guide to the Environmental Regulatory Process in Pennsylvania or view the
Spanish version here.
Expand AllClick here for a more accessible version
The Department hosted a virtual meeting with the Environmental Quality Board on September 15, 2020. The Department provided a presentation to the Board on the CO2 budget trading program proposed rulemaking.
The Department held an informational presentation on how Pennsylvania can reduce climate pollution by participating in RGGI via webinar on Thursday August 6, 2020. The presentation outlined how participating in RGGI will lower greenhouse gas and other air pollution emissions from electric power plants. The presentation also covered benefits of the program, including health and economic benefits.
The Department hosted a virtual meeting with the Small Business Compliance Advisory Committee on Wednesday July 22, 2020. The Department provided a presentation to the committees on the draft Annex detailing Pennsylvania’s CO2 budget trading program.
The Department hosted a virtual meeting with the Citizen’s Advisory Council on Tuesday, May 19, 2020. The Department provided a presentation to the committees on the draft Annex detailing Pennsylvania’s CO2 budget trading program.
The Department hosted a virtual meeting with the Air Quality Technical Advisory Committee on Thursday May 7, 2020 at 9:15 a.m. The Department provided a presentation to the committees on the draft Annex detailing Pennsylvania’s CO2 budget trading program.
In response to requests to provide more opportunities to learn about the Carbon Dioxide Budget Trading Program at the last meeting, the Department hosted a virtual special joint informational meeting with the Air Quality Technical Advisory Committee and the Citizen’s Advisory Council on Thursday April 23, 2020 at 1:00 p.m. The Department provided a presentation to the committees on the modeling results associated with Pennsylvania’s participation in a CO2 budget trading program.
DEP unveiled preliminary draft regulations to allow Pennsylvania to participate in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI). Members of the Department’s Air Quality Technical Advisory Committee (AQTAC) heard details about the preliminary rulemaking which designs a carbon dioxide trading program in Pennsylvania using the RGGI Model Rule and also incorporating revisions and additions specific to Pennsylvania including:
- A waste coal generation set-aside allowance allocation
- Flexibility for on-site generation tied to manufacturing facilities
- Adds a qualifying offset for abandoned well plugging
- Adds a provision to allow a PA-only auction if economically beneficial
The preliminary draft regulation was presented to members for informational purposes only.
On February 3, 2020 DEP had the opportunity to provide testimony at the Joint Legislative Air and Water Pollution Control and Conservation Committee’s (JLCC) hearing focusing on the impacts of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) on Pennsylvania’s Co-Generation Industry. The Secretary testified to the additional flexibility provided in the rule for co-generation tied to Pennsylvania manufacturing facilities. Additionally he highlighted the unique benefits of waste coal generation beyond electricity production and the proposed set-aside option to assist Pennsylvania waste-coal generation facilities with RGGI compliance- thereby avoiding significant compliance costs under the current proposal.
What Does RGGI Mean for PA?