Pennsylvania General Assembly Pushes Through Climate Change Legislation
On July 3, 2008, Harrisburg moved another step closer towards enacting climate change legislation when the House of Representatives passed Senate Bill 266, the Pennsylvania Climate Change Act, by a vote of 176 to 24. Previously, the House and Senate had passed similar, but separate, pieces of climate change legislation. The House action clears the way for a single climate change bill to be forwarded to Governor Rendell for his signature.
While the Pennsylvania Climate Change Act does not set targets for greenhouse gas reductions, it does establish a number of programs designed to require the Department of Environmental Protection ("DEP") to study and report on climate change issues. First, the Act requires DEP to submit within nine months to the General Assembly a report on the potential impact of climate change in Pennsylvania. The Act also requires DEP to compile an annual inventory of greenhouse gas emissions from all sources within Pennsylvania. In addition, the Act requires DEP to submit to the Governor and General Assembly within fifteen months a "climate change action plan" that, among other things, is supposed to evaluate cost-effective strategies for reducing or offsetting greenhouse gas emissions from various sectors within Pennsylvania and recommend any legislative changes necessary to implement the action plan. A new action plan must be submitted every three years. The Act also directs DEP to establish within 90 days a greenhouse gas registry where entities can record voluntary reductions or avoidances of greenhouse gas emissions.