inside sources print logo
Get up to date Delaware Valley news in your inbox

Yaw Introduces Bill to Repeal RGGI Carbon Tax

State Sen. Gene Yaw has filed legislation to repeal the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) carbon tax.

Former Gov. Tom Wolf (D) signed an executive order in 2019 to bring the state into RGGI, a move the state legislature previously rejected. According to Yaw, RGGI, a multi-state compact, would increase consumer electricity rates while cutting energy and manufacturing jobs and lead to the closure of Pennsylvania power plants.

In a memo circulated to Senate members, Yaw said Senate Bill 1058 would repeal a CO2 Budget Trading program regulation promulgated by the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and the Environmental Quality Board (EQB) despite bipartisan objection from the General Assembly.

“For four years, Pennsylvania taxpayers have footed the bill for this unconstitutional, unilateral decision,” said Yaw (R-Bradford). “RGGI is wrong for Pennsylvania, and it is time to repeal this regulation and focus on putting forth commonsense, environmentally responsible energy policy that recognizes and champions Pennsylvania as an energy producer.”

Last year, the Commonwealth Court ruled Pennsylvania’s entrance into RGGI may only be achieved through legislation duly enacted by the General Assembly, not merely through rulemaking promulgated by DEP and EQB. That ruling has been appealed to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court by Gov. Josh Shapiro (D), and the appeal remains pending. In the past, legislation preventing Pennsylvania from unconstitutionally being entered into RGGI has received bipartisan support.

Perhaps to appear moderate while campaigning for governor, Shapiro did not back RGGI and refused to call for an end to fracking. Now that he is in office, he is fighting in court to uphold his predecessor’s action. Shapiro justified his decision to appeal the Commonwealth Court RGGI ruling as a defense of executive authority.

But other states that are part of RGGI—Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Virginia—joined with legislative approval rather than executive fiat.

According to the nonpartisan Independent Fiscal Office, RGGI could cost Pennsylvanians more than $663 million per year. The Department of Environmental Protection estimate put the number tens of millions of dollars higher, at $688 million.

Virginia, which Republican Gov. Glenn Younkin leads, is trying to leave RGGI. However, Democratic legislators oppose the withdrawal, and the Association of Energy Conservation Professionals has filed a lawsuit to block it.

Yaw said this legislation comes after a series of hearings with members of the Ohio General Assembly to discuss PJM and the reliability of the mid-Atlantic power grid it manages. PJM projects 20 percent of its existing capacity will retire between now and 2030. That would leave it without sufficient power to meet the demands of consumers.

Yaw added thermal generation retirements, like the recently announced Brandon Shores power plant closure in Maryland, coupled with the threat of RGGI, only further compromise the integrity of the electric grid. One Federal Energy Regulatory Commissioner (FERC) recently said the shutdown could cause a “potentially catastrophic” scenario. However, a recent FERC order shows concerns about the outlook of the region’s power production are being heard.

“Not only would RGGI leave thousands struggling to pay their utility bills during a time of record inflation, but it would also have a detrimental impact on the reliability of our region’s already strained electric grid,” Yaw said. “There is more work to be done, but this legislation is an important component to ensuring energy reliability, sustainability, and affordability for Pennsylvania families and businesses.”

The other RGGI member states are not energy-producing states. Pennsylvania has the highest production of natural gas after Texas. And fossil fuels here fund 424,000 jobs.

The threat of RGGI in Pennsylvania has driven fossil fuel plants out of existence, halted the construction of new natural gas power plants, and handcuffed businesses from making further investments with an uncertain regulatory future, according to Yaw. When this generation is retired by states with “clean energy goals,” the new generation cannot keep pace with the former plants.

The ongoing energy transition has had a detrimental impact on the reliability of Pennsylvania’s electric grid, making blackouts and restrictions on when and how residents and companies can use electricity inevitable, he noted.

Carl A. Marrara, executive director of the Pennsylvania Manufacturers’ Association, commended Yaw and the Senate for “tackling this important issue.”

“Senate Bill 1058 is necessary legislation to remove the unconstitutional mess, in the form of a $500 million energy tax, that the Wolf administration unilaterally imposed upon Pennsylvania’s ratepayers,” said Marrara. The Commonwealth Court’s decision last year clearly stated that RGGI is a tax and that, per the Constitution of Pennsylvania, taxation authority is granted solely to the legislature. Repealing RGGI will allow the General Assembly and Gov. Shaprio to debate and implement energy policies that make actual sense for our commonwealth.”

Please follow DVJournal on social media: Twitter@DVJournal or

Plunging Temps Remind New England of Cold, Hard Truth: Grid Still Relies on Coal, Oil

Energy sector officials have been warning for years about the risks posed to New England’s grid by plunging temperatures, risks exacerbated by anti-energy-infrastructure policies across the region.

Now with New England facing its coldest temperatures since the “polar vortex” of 2019 and wind chills of -45 degrees below zero across the U.S. northern tier states, the grid is under stress once again.

“Well-documented natural gas pipeline constraints, coupled with global supply chain issues related to deliveries of oil and liquefied natural gas (LNG), are placing New England’s power system at heightened risk heading into the winter season,” ISO New England Inc, operator of the region’s power grid said in a December 6 statement.

In that same statement, Peter Brandien, vice president of System Operations & Market Administration, warned “if the region experiences an extended period of extreme cold weather, fuel supplies into the region could become constrained resulting in challenging system operation.”

As ISO=NE continues its work with the New England states and industry stakeholders to transition to what it considers a cleaner grid, the organization said it must also maintain real-time power system reliability.

“In recent years, oil and LNG have filled the gaps when extended periods of very cold weather have constrained natural gas pipeline supplies,” according to ISO New England’s president and CEO Gordon van Welie. “Higher prices globally for these fuels, as well as pandemic-related supply chain challenges, could limit their availability in New England if needed to produce electricity this winter.

“The region would be in a precarious position if an extended cold snap were to develop and these fuels were not available,” van Welie said.

Dan Kish of the Washington, D.C.-based Institute for Energy Research (IER) says these warnings were not sexy at the time, but people are paying attention now.

“What they pointed to was a growing gap between demand for energy and the supply that people are making available either through pipelines or electrical lines or anything else and because New England is an area of the country that does not have a lot of energy production,” says Kish. “I would be concerned based upon what the people who oversee the grid have said about it.”

“Part of the problem with the grid is the problems created by people that say we need to fix the grid,” says Kish. “The more diversity one has, the more options people have to use whatever fits those needs, and when you begin closing those down, that puts excessive strain on the grid, and that’s why the grid is running into trouble.”

Which is why New Hampshire maintains the 459 MW Merrimack Station in Bow, the last coal-burning power plant in New England. While it is seldom powered up, its owners, Granite Shore Power, make millions in capacity payments by acting as a reliable electricity backup for the grid.

“Coal-fired plants no longer supply baseload power,” says the U.S. Energy Information Administration, “but they play an important role in providing electricity on high demand days.”

Green activists have been trying unsuccessfully to shut down the Bow plant for years. Four protesters with the left-wing organization “No Coal, No Gas” were arrested Saturday after two chained themselves to a smokestack at the Bow plant.

None of the four arrested are residents of New Hampshire, according to police reports.

So, what power source should New England use during high-demand periods if they succeeded in getting Bow shut down?

“I recognize that the transition does not happen in one day, and the workers at the coal plant deserve options in the transition away from fossil fuels,” Rebecca Beaulieu, Communications & Youth Programs Organizer at 350 New Hampshire.

Beaulieu argues that coal provides just 3 percent or so of New England’s power, even during a peak in usage, and that three percent can be made up by renewables. “We would love to see the coal plant replaced with solar or wind energy – something that would benefit the residents of Bow and end the pollution of their air and water.”

And she’s right: On. Tuesday, ISO-NE reported just 2.55 percent of power on the grid came from coal. However, that’s about the same as wind (2.9 percent) and 100 times more than solar (o.o2 percent.) Wind and solar output would have to double to replace coal — and that’s assuming there’s not another 2019.

“Wind and solar operate pretty poorly when it’s cold or snowing,” says Kish.

Meanwhile, the use of oil surges during cold periods like this one. According to the dashboard, New England was getting 17 percent of its energy from oil on Tuesday, more than hydro/wind/solar combined.

One of the stated goals of the “No Coal, No Gas” movement is to prevent the Bow plant from being converted to natural gas – despite the fact it emits about half as much carbon as coal.

“Europe right now has been going through a situation where they’re closing industries because you simply can’t make fertilizers or metal, or steel because the cost of energy has gone through the roof because they’re a few years ahead of us in this so-called green transition,” Kish said.

“So, make no mistake about it: The grid itself is actually put in peril by many of the things that they’re preaching that we ought to adopt.”

Follow us on social media: Twitter: @DV_Journal or