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Attempt to block Pa. from joining multi-state climate initiative fails in Senate

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by Marley Parish, Pennsylvania Capital-Star
April 4, 2022

With lawmakers being one vote shy of overriding a veto from Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf, the Republican-controlled Senate failed to approve an attempt to block Pennsylvania from joining the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative on Monday.

After more than an hour of debate, lawmakers in the upper chamber voted 32-17, failing to meet the two-thirds requirement to block Wolf’s plan to enter the multi-state agreement, which requires that electricity generators pay for their carbon emissions.

For months, Republicans have argued that the plan is unconstitutional and accused Wolf of circumventing the legislative process by seeking regulatory approval from an independent review panel. Speaking on the Senate floor ahead of the vote, they also cautioned that RGGI will lead to higher electricity bills and shut down power plans — ultimately resulting in lost jobs.

Every GOP lawmaker supported the measure, joined by Allegheny County Democrats Sens. Jim Brewster, Lindsey Williams, and Wayne Fontana. Despite previous support for RGGI, Sen. John Yudichak, I-Luzerne, also supported the proposal.

“The fight against the RGGI carbon tax will continue in court,” Senate Majority Leader Kim Ward, R-Westmoreland, said in a statement. “This could have been a slam-dunk, bipartisan effort for Pennsylvanians to override the governor’s unilateral decision for Pennsylvania to join RGGI.”

Pennsylvania’s entrance into the 11-state agreement could still see legal challenges, but if it’s not struck down, the regulation could take effect as early as July 1.

Pennsylvania Capital-Star is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Pennsylvania Capital-Star maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor John Micek for questions: info@penncapital-star.com. Follow Pennsylvania Capital-Star on Facebook and Twitter.

Marley Parish is a contributor at the Pennsylvania Capital-Star, where this story first appeared.