Pa. lawmakers out of touch on RGGI

Kathy Cook
League of Women Voters Pennsylvania

Gov. Tom Wolf signed an executive order to join the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative on July 31, 2020. The Senate has passed a letter of disapproval in the Senate and the House is expected to sign the letter of disapproval in the near future, which would send RGGI back to Gov. Wolf to veto. A vote to override RGGI is most likely in our future.

Meanwhile, from the COP26 Glasgow Pact comes the warning that “catastrophic impacts lie ahead unless the world rapidly and dramatically cuts greenhouse gas emissions.”

Analysis conducted for Department of Environmental Protection estimates that Pennsylvania’s carbon pollution will be cut by 21%, or 180 million tons, from 2022 to 2030 if participation in RGGI moves forward. 

FILE - A thermometer records just below 100 degrees in a north Seattle neighborhood Wednesday afternoon, July 29, 2009, approaching record highs. While world leaders hail the 2021 Glasgow climate pact as a good compromise that keeps a key temperature limit alive, scientists are much more skeptical. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson, File)

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That is equal to taking more than 4 million cars off the road. The resulting health benefits will include fewer heat-related deaths, fewer cases of bronchitis, fewer asthma attacks, reduction in insect-related illness, and improved cardiovascular health. It is expected to generate $6.3 billion in health care savings and 30,000 fewer hospital visits for respiratory illnesses like asthma among children and adults.

Pennsylvanians overwhelmingly support RGGI. It seems that the legislature is out of touch with its citizens and the rest of the world. Time is being wasted. Please contact your legislators and demand that we cut our fossil fuel emissions by joining RGGI. The health of our citizens and our planet depend on this.

— Kathy Cook is the environmental policy director for the League of Women Voters Pennsylvania.