Vote by DEP’s small business advisory committee says PA should not join regional cap and trade group
As small businesses and all Pennsylvanians deal with the health and economic crisis, the Wolf administration’s effort to push through a regulation on the state’s energy producers that will lead to higher prices for all consumers faces growing opposition.
On July 22, a vote by the Small Business Compliance Advisory Committee, which makes non-binding recommendations to Pennsylvania’s Department of Environmental Protection, voted not to support the proposal to join the Regional Green House Gas Initiative (RGGI), a multi-state cap and trade program to limit emissions of energy producers. Now, three DEP advisory boards have opposed the proposed regulation.
It is widely accepted that the impact of RGGI would result in higher costs for energy producers, and that would be passed directly down to consumers in the form of higher utility bills. It is believed the cap and trade program would lead to coal plants closing, cause economic harm to the state’s natural gas drilling industry, and many high paying jobs would be lost.
“At this time of crisis that is so economically damaging, one has to wonder why Governor Wolf is pushing ahead with a policy that will raise prices, eliminate jobs, and hurt the economy,” said Rebecca Oyler, legislative director for NFIB in Pennsylvania. “Even though numerous DEP advisory boards have now said no to joining this cap and trade program, members of the legislature have spoken out against it, and there is a bill pending that would require legislative approval, the Governor can still opt to use executive fiat to join anyway. That is not a representative government.”
NFIB, which advocates on behalf of its 14,000 small business members in the state, said many of them are struggling to stay afloat during the pandemic due to business shutdowns or limited reopenings. Higher energy bills would hurt their ability to remain open. A recent report using Public Utility Commission data shows 55,000 businesses and 800,000 individuals are currently at risk for energy shutoffs.
“Small businesses will lead our state’s recovery, and we need to do everything we can to set them up for success,” added Oyler. “Increasing their energy costs at a time where many are struggling to stay afloat is a big mistake. Today’s vote by this committee is another indication this ill-advised policy should not be pushed through by Governor Wolf.”
NFIB holds one seat on the Small Business Compliance Advisory Committee and two NFIB member small business members also serve on that committee. Today, the panel, which also includes state regulators and other appointees, voted 4 to 3 to recommend against the state’s participation in the RGGI energy cap and trade program.