Major Pennsylvania Businesses, Institutions Declare Support for Regional Carbon Initiative
More than a dozen employers across the state urge lawmakers to join Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative
September 15, 2020 /3BL Media/ - More than a dozen businesses and higher education institutions with operations, facilities, and more than 14,000 employees across Pennsylvania urged state lawmakers today to support the commonwealth’s participation in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI). RGGI is a bipartisan, multi-state effort to cut carbon dioxide emissions from electric power generation.
Pennsylvania’s power sector is the fifth-largest emitter of carbon dioxide in the United States.
“[We] recognize the importance of preparing Pennsylvania’s economy to meet the needs of the future,” they wrote in a letter made public today. “RGGI presents one of our most cost-efficient opportunities to accelerate emissions reductions while preserving Pennsylvania’s proud status as an economic powerhouse for the many years to come.”
Signatories include bp, Chatham University, Dickinson College, DSM North America, Exelon, Friends Fiduciary Corporation, Haverford College, Kimberton Whole Foods, Lutron Electronics, Mars Incorporated, National Foundry Products, Nestle, Schneider Electric, Steve Harvey Law LLC, Swarthmore College and UNFI.
“RGGI presents one of our most cost-efficient opportunities to accelerate emissions reductions while preserving Pennsylvania’s proud status as an economic powerhouse for many years to come,” write the businesses and institutions. “We encourage Pennsylvania’s lawmakers and stakeholders to constructively work together to support and swiftly implement the Commonwealth’s participation in this important initiative.”
Ten states in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic, including Maryland, New York and New Jersey, already participate in RGGI, and Virginia has finalized plans to participate beginning in January. The initiative is designed to reduce power-sector carbon dioxide emissions by capping them under a gradual, market-based program. Since RGGI’s launch in 2008, it is estimated that power-sector emissions have been cut in half in the states that have been participating in the program. Meanwhile, according to a report, over the program’s first ten years, growth in Gross Domestic Product in RGGI states outpaced the rest of the country by 31 percent, and electricity prices fell by 5.7 percent while prices increased in the rest of the country. RGGI has also significantly reduced air pollution, leading to more than $5.7 billion in health savings.
Furthermore, proceeds from RGGI participation are used by states to help consumers install energy efficiency measures, access solar power, lower their electricity bills, and more.
“Businesses and institutions across Pennsylvania recognize the imperative to reduce emissions and accelerate a just transition to a low-carbon energy system,” said Brianna Esteves, manager of state policy at Ceres. “RGGI presents a market-based opportunity for the state to transition away from its reliance on high carbon-emitting sources, while attracting new business and staying competitive in the modern, clean energy economy.”
The Wolf Administration initiated a rulemaking process for Pennsylvania to participate in RGGI in October 2019. A proposed rule has now been drafted, and tomorrow (September 15) the state’s Environmental Quality Board will take an important step in the regulatory process by voting on the proposal. If the Board votes in favor of moving the proposed RGGI regulation forward, it will be subject to an extensive public comment period.
“Colleges and universities across Pennsylvania have been and continue to be leaders on their campuses and in their communities when it comes to reducing their carbon footprint,” said Tim Carter, President, Second Nature. “They understand how crucial it is to not only make a commitment to do so, but to follow through with the necessary steps to make it happen. Pennsylvania has an opportunity to help these important institutions, as well as many others in the state, achieve their goals by joining RGGI.”
Following an extensive public input process, the earliest the commonwealth could participate in RGGI is January 2022.
Last week, a subcommittee of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) Market Risk Advisory Committee issued a report outlining the major risk climate change poses to the financial system's ability to sustain the American economy, and emphasized the need for pricing carbon emissions.
To learn more about Pennsylvania business and institution support for RGGI, please visit www.RGGIforPA.com.
Ceres is a sustainability nonprofit organization working with the most influential investors and companies to build leadership and drive solutions throughout the economy. Through powerful networks and advocacy, Ceres tackles the world’s biggest sustainability challenges, including climate change, water scarcity and pollution, and inequitable workplaces. For more information, visit: www.ceres.org and follow @CeresNews.
About Second Nature
Second Nature is committed to accelerating climate action in, and through, higher education. This is accomplished by mobilizing a diverse array of higher education institutions to act on bold climate commitments, to scale campus climate initiatives, and to create innovative climate solutions. Second Nature aims to align, amplify, and bridge the sector’s efforts with other global leaders to advance urgent climate priorities. secondnature.org.