Governor Wolf takes on greenhouse gases

A plume of exhaust extends from a Pennsylvania power plant.
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Governor Tom Wolf recently announced that the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) joined the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), a collaboration between nine Mid-Atlantic and Northeast states to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions and combat climate change. 

Other U.S. states participating in this action are Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island, and Vermont. They set up a cap on totally CO2 emissions from electric power generators within the state.

To show they’re following the cap, power plants need to purchase credit for the total number of CO2 they emit. The credits are purchased from an RGGI auction. The auction was held on Sept. 4, and it ended up costing companies $5.20 per ton. The profit from the auction goes back to the states, in proportion to regulations in each state. 

Climate experts say that reducing CO2 emissions helps the state combat climate change. 

In a press release, Gov. Wolf stated, “Climate change is the most critical environmental threat confronting the world, and power generation is one of the biggest contributors to greenhouse gas emissions.”

Wolf added that “Given the urgency of the climate crisis facing Pennsylvania and the entire planet, the commonwealth must continue to take concrete, economically sound and immediate steps to reduce emissions. Joining RGGI will give us that opportunity to better protect the health and safety of our citizens.”

When it comes to the actual electricity, according to the press release, “Pennsylvania exports nearly a third of the electricity it produces, and the cost of RGGI compliance for exported electricity will be paid by electric customers in the states where that electricity is ultimately used.”

The Wolf administration has heavily focused on combatting climate change, including signing an order in January with the goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 26 percent by 2025 and 50 percent by 2050. 

Randy Padfield, director of the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency, said in a press release that, “Combatting climate change demands cooperation among many state agencies but also a proactive approach, and joining RGGI will help reduce carbon emissions, which will, in turn, reduce the threat of weather-related natural disasters.”

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