Lawmakers lack votes to halt Wolf's carbon-pricing plan

The Associated Press
Brunner Island Power Plant, Wednesday, February 14, 2018. John A. Pavoncello photo

HARRISBURG — The Republican-controlled state House of Representatives voted Wednesday to block the centerpiece of Gov. Tom Wolf's plan to fight climate change, a cap-and-trade program to clamp down on carbon dioxide emissions from power plants, although the chamber for now lacks the votes to stop it.

The vote, 130-70, was on a resolution that Wolf can veto, and the authorizing regulation — which would make Pennsylvania the first major fossil fuel state to adopt carbon pricing — can take effect if both the House and Senate cannot must a two-thirds majority to override the veto.

A Senate vote in late October to disapprove the policy, like the House's vote Wednesday, was just short of the number needed to override a gubernatorial veto.

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The regulation calls for Pennsylvania to join a multistate consortium, the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, which sets a price and declining limits on carbon dioxide emissions from power plants.

Wolf, a Democrat, meanwhile wants the regulation to take effect immediately, but is being held up an agency that answers to the Legislature.

Pennsylvania has long been one of the nation’s biggest polluters and power producers.

Under the cap-and-trade program, dozens of power plants fueled by coal, oil and natural gas would be forced to buy hundreds of millions of dollars in credits in the coming years, money state government could spend on clean energy and energy-efficiency programs.