Industry leaders protest Pennsylvania inclusion in RGGI

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Representatives from several industries gathered at a rally Wednesday at the Cheswick Power Plant in Springdale in voice opposition to Pennsylvania joining the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI).

Speakers at the event included state Sen. Gene Yaw (R-Lycoming), Senate Environmental Resources & Energy Committee chairman; state Sena. Joe Pittman (R-Indiana/Armstrong/Westmoreland); state Rep. Jim Struzzi (R-Indiana); state Rep. Pam Snyder (D-Greene/Fayette); Kevin Panzino, Cheswick Generating Station plant manager; Kenn Bradley, IBEW Local 29 business manager; and Shawn Steffee, Boilermakers Local 154 business agent.

Inclusion in RGGI could lead to the closure of several power plants, critics say, because it would create a carbon tax on air emissions from fossil-fueled power plants.

The Pennsylvania House of Representatives passed legislation in July that would allow only the General Assembly to impose a tax, and three state advisory panels housed within the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) evaluated the Gov. Tom Wolf’s RGGI proposal and rejected it.

The Power PA Jobs Alliance, a coalition of labor, management, and consumer stakeholders that oppose carbon tax proposals, disputes the DEP’s claim that cutting carbon dioxide pollution from power plants would save billions of dollars and hundreds of lives.

“The DEP’s own modeling shows no decrease in carbon dioxide emissions in our transmission organization as a result of Pennsylvania joining RGGI, but rather a shift in generation, and therefore jobs, to our neighboring states that do not tax,” a Power PA release stated.

Since 2009, carbon dioxide emissions from the electric power sector have decreased 33 percent, Power PA said.