Pennsylvania’s Climate Change Initiatives Entering 2020

January 21, 2020
Thomas M. Duncan, Esq.
MGKF Special Alert - Pennsylvania Forecast 2020

On October 3, 2019, Governor Wolf issued an Executive Order directing the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (PADEP) to propose a rulemaking to the Environmental Quality Board (EQB) by no later than July 31, 2020 to join the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI).  RGGI is a collection of northeastern states that have instituted a cap and trade program to reduce CO2 emissions from fossil fuel-fired electric power generators with at least 25 megawatts of capacity.  The Executive Order is intended to further Gov. Wolf’s goal of reducing statewide greenhouse (GHG) emissions by 26 percent by 2025 and by 80 percent by 2050, based on 2005 levels.  If PADEP in fact proposes a rulemaking to the EQB by July 31, 2020, the EQB would likely provide a public comment period in the fall of 2020.  PADEP currently expects that the RGGI rule would take effect in the first quarter of 2022. 

For now, a rulemaking petition submitted by a group of individuals and organizations in 2018 that requests that the EQB establish a cap-and-trade program to reduce statewide GHG emissions will be held in abeyance while PADEP and the EQB work on the RGGI rule.  For a more detailed explanation of this pending rulemaking petition, please refer to our article from late 2018.

On December 17, 2019, the EQB voted to approve proposed regulations to reduce methane emissions by setting volatile organic compound emissions standards for existing oil and gas operations.  A 60-day public comment period is forthcoming.

More recently, on December 19, 2019, a group of northeastern states, including Pennsylvania, which together have formed the Transportation and Climate Initiative, issued a draft Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with a goal of creating a cap-and-invest program to reduce CO2 emissions from the transportation sector.  The program would specifically target fuel suppliers.  A final MOU is expected in the spring of 2020, at which time states could decide whether to participate in the program.