Pennsylvania governor announces new renewable energy standard, endorses statewide carbon-capping market

Pennsylvania Gov. Josh Shapiro (D) on Wednesday endorsed a statewide carbon-trading market in the state while seeming skeptical about a regional market embraced by his predecessor.

Speaking in Scranton, Shapiro endorsed pending legislation in the state Legislature that will create a statewide carbon-capping market, with proceeds paying for rebates to electricity ratepayers and renewable projects in the Keystone State.

“We will not take direction from anyone outside of this commonwealth,” Shapiro said during his remarks. “This initiative will be established by us, run by us. We will set our own cap, we will set our own price. We won’t have any other state determining what is right for us in Pennsylvania.”

The proposal would remove Pennsylvania from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), a multi-state carbon-capping market, in favor of the new Pennsylvania program, the Pennsylvania Climate Emissions Reduction Act.

Shapiro’s predecessor, Gov. Tom Wolf (D), joined RGGI during his term, making Pennsylvania the first major fossil fuel-producing state to do so. Last November, however, Pennsylvania’s Commonwealth Court ruled with Republicans in the state Senate that the state Department of Environmental Protection is not authorized to collect revenues under the program.

Shapiro also announced a new renewable energy standard for the state that would require renewables supply at least 50 percent of consumer electricity. It is the first update in more than 20 years to the state standard, which currently requires only 18 percent of electricity be renewables.

“Pennsylvania is falling behind in the race to create clean and reliable energy — and we must take action to be more competitive, ensure our consumers pay less for their electricity bills, and create more jobs and opportunities for our businesses to grow and our workers to get ahead,” Shapiro said.

In a statement Wednesday, Conservation Voters of Pennsylvania Executive Director Molly Parzen praised the renewable energy standard but expressed concerns about a full exit from RGGI.

“RGGI has a 15-year track record of reducing carbon pollution while investing billions of dollars in expanded clean energy,” she said in a statement. “Any new plan that is adopted must provide at least the same benefits to the environment and to our communities as RGGI.”

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