Pennsylvania lawmakers must stop obstructing popular climate measures

Governor Tom Wolf’s plan to join the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) has faced hurdle after hurdle. After a contentious, years-long debate over Pennsylvlania’s future in the cap-and-trade initiative, it finally seemed like we were making meaningful progress. In January of this year, Governor Wolf vetoed S.C.R.R.R.1, a resolution that would have blocked participation in RGGI. 

Unfortunately, it’s not smooth sailing yet. On March 29, the Pennsylvania State Senate is planning a vote to override the governor’s veto, needlessly obstructing Pennsylvania’s progress on clean energy and blocking job creation and economic development. 

Standing in the way of Pennsylvania’s RGGI participation is also completely at odds with what Pennsylvanians themselves want for the Commonwealth. New polling data finds that the majority of Pennsylvanians are concerned about the changing climate. Through participation in RGGI, Pennsylvania stands to reduce pollution from carbon emissions anywhere from 97 to 227 million tons by 2030 — leading to cleaner air and a drop in health concerns like asthma. 

Like much of the country, Pennsylvania residents are also worried about economic security, with jobs and the rising costs of living ranking among their highest concerns. RGGI participation is projected to add 27,000 jobs to our workforce and $2 billion to the Gross State Product by 2030. These funds can be invested in solutions like energy efficiency or renewable energy, which is overwhelmingly supported by Pennsylvania residents. These efforts will also result in savings for Pennsylvania households, since solar is the cheapest form of energy production. Our polling found that a bipartisan majority of Pennsylvanians would like to see increased solar deployment in their communities. In fact, rooftop solar outperformed every other energy source, including coal and natural gas. 

If invested thoughtfully and strategically, the money earned from auctioning off emission quotas could bring significant benefits to Pennsylvania’s most overburdened residents. Low-income communities are the most likely to be located near polluting facilities like coal plants, and many Pennsylvanians believe these same communities should be the first to reap the benefits of a clean energy transition. When asked how RGGI funds should be allocated, Pennsylvanians selected affordable clean energy for low-income communities as their top choice. 

It’s time for Pennsylvania legislators to stand up for the best interests of their constituents and pursue solutions to our collective challenges. Joining RGGI is a common-sense measure with benefits supported by Pennsylvanians of all backgrounds and political leanings. Tell the Pennsylvania Senate: stop standing in the way of economic growth and climate action.

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