HARRISBURG, PA — The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (PA-DEP) completed its 60-day public comment period Thursday to weigh the commonwealth’s public support for joining the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI). Established in 2008, RGGI is a bipartisan multi-state program that addresses climate pollution by setting a cap, which is annually lowered, on carbon emissions from power plants.
Throughout PA-DEP’s public comment period, Pennsylvanians spoke loudly and clearly about their support for the state entering into this regional program to tackle climate change, clean up our air, create jobs, and spur economic growth.
By the end of the comment period, hundreds of community leaders and thousands of Pennsylvania residents had voiced their support for the program. This included:
Almost 3,000 PennEnvironment activists, volunteers and members who joined more than 10,000 residents across the state to submit comments in support of Pennsylvania joining RGGI;
PennEnvironment recruited more than 280 local elected officials, environmental and community groups, faith leaders, public health experts, business owners and community leaders to submit a comment in support of RGGI and the state’s obligation to reduce climate pollution;
PennEnvironment worked with more than 30 state legislators and 60 local elected officials to submit their own comments in support of the initiative;
Sixty-five PennEnvironment members and volunteers joined more than 400 Pennsylvanians to testify at 10 virtual hearings held by PA-DEP. Of those, nearly 95 percent of the speakers testified in support of the program.
Flora Cardoni, PennEnvironment Research & Policy Center’s field director, issued the following statement in response to the close of PA-DEP’s RGGI public comment period:
“For years, climate polluters and their allies in the state legislature have been trying to deceive the public and General Assembly into believing that tackling climate change is somehow a controversial topic. But the last 60 days of DEP’s public comment period have shown what we’ve known all along: the people of Pennsylvania want the state to stand up and take bold, immediate action to avert the climate crisis.
“Joining RGGI is the first step for Pennsylvania to do our part to reduce climate pollution. RGGI is expected to reduce Pennsylvania’s carbon footprint by over 188 million tons in the first decade alone. We owe it to ourselves and future generations to join RGGI and make those pollution cuts a reality.
“The overwhelming support for the program during this comment period makes it clear that Pennsylvanians are all in. It should serve as a stark reminder to the legislature to defend the program against attacks in the General Assembly, push forward more climate solutions, and listen to the support from the public instead of the self-interest of fossil fuel lobbyists in capitol building.
“At PennEnvironment, we urge the Department of Environmental Protection to listen to the public and for the Commonwealth to take this first step toward climate action by joining RGGI. We also look forward to working with the state legislature and Gov. Wolf to take other much-needed steps to further reduce our climate pollution, including renewing Pennsylvania’s Alternative Energy Portfolio Standards law, funding for the state’s public transportation systems, incentivizing wind and solar energy, and advancing legislation to promote electric vehicle infrastructure in the Commonwealth. Together, we can tackle the climate crisis, but only if our elected leaders listen to the public and lead the way.”
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