|Posted:||December 6, 2022 03:31 PM|
|From:||Senator Carolyn T. Comitta|
|To:||All Senate members|
|Subject:||RGGI Investments Act|
|A climate crisis is happening before our eyes. It is caused by human activity and carbon emissions. Every day, its impacts grow more severe. Every day, the need to act quickly and effectively grows more urgent.
According to Pennsylvania’s 2021 Climate Impacts Assessment, average annual temperatures in the Commonwealth will rise by 5.9°F by the middle of the century, with significant implications for public health, environmental justice and equity, our agriculture, recreation, and tourism industries, and the infrastructure we all depend on.
Meanwhile, over the past decade, more than a dozen coal-fired power plants have closed in Pennsylvania, due to the shifting economics of energy, and a rapid movement to less expensive natural gas generation. That shift has left communities across the state grappling with lost tax revenue and unemployment, and limited resources to promote new economic development or provide workforce training and support.
To address these challenges, I am reintroducing legislation that reflects the proposed Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) funding program. This legislation makes targeted investments to support environmental justice communities, workers affected by energy transition, and Pennsylvania’s growing clean energy and commercial and industrial sectors. Without legislation stipulating an investment structure, RGGI proceeds – an estimated hundreds of millions of dollars a year – would be limited exclusively to the Clean Air Fund where they will have a much more restricted scope and impact.
This legislation establishes several funds to effectively disburse the significant revenue generated annually through future RGGI auctions:
The Environmental Justice Trust Fund will make investments in Environmental Justice communities across the commonwealth that are disproportionately at risk from climate impacts. The trust fund board will similarly be composed of representatives from the executive branch and legislature, as well as nominees made by the Commonwealth’s Environmental Justice Advisory Board.
Funding from the Greenhouse Gas Abatement, Energy Efficiency, Clean and Renewable Energy Investments Account will support investments in carbon capture utilization and storage, abandoned oil and gas well plugging, energy efficiency, transportation, climate-smart farming practices, forest stewardship, and clean and renewable energy investments, including biomass, geothermal, hydropower, energy storage, and solar and wind technologies, all of which will help drive in-state investment and job creation.
Finally, revenue will be dedicated to employers in Pennsylvania’s industrial and commercial sectors to help reduce their greenhouse gas emissions through investments in process electrification, fuel switching, combined heat and power, demand response and reduction, energy efficiency, and carbon capture utilization and storage.
By making these targeted investments, we can both address the existential threat of climate change while also ensuring that all Pennsylvanians – from communities that form the backbone of our traditional energy economy to those currently bearing the brunt of health and safety risks associated with pollution and climate change – aren’t left behind in the transition.
Climate change is here. The science is clear. The economic realities are clear. The risks of inaction are dire.
Please join me in cosponsoring this legislation.