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Pa.’s participation in regional cap-and-trade program gets a push from state board; it’s a cornerstone of Gov. Wolf’s climate change policy

By District Energy posted 07-13-2021 15:32


Penn Live Patriot News


Proposed regulations guiding Pennsylvania’s entry into a system to push operators of in-state power plants to reduce climate-changing greenhouse gas emissions by making them pay for each ton of carbon dioxide pollution generated were approved by the Gov. Tom Wolf-friendly Environmental Quality Board Tuesday.

The proposal, which Wolf is trying to push through without legislative approval under terms of the state’s Air Pollution Control Act, would see Pennsylvania joining the 11-state Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative at the beginning of 2022.

As adopted Tuesday, the plan would require 66 large, commercial power plants to buy allowances for each ton of CO2 their power generation emits. The number of allowances shrinks each year, and the resultant increase in prices for the allowances motivates the companies to reduce emissions by retiring their dirtiest plants and/or moving to greener sources of energy.

It does have some carve-outs that are unique to Pennsylvania, still one of the nation’s top coal-producing states.

For example, it would permit 10 current power plants that are fueled by waste coal to largely be exempted from the allowance requirements, on the rationale that the re-use of the waste coal in itself creates a different kind of environmental benefit for communities in the coal regions.

There are also protections for combined heat-and-power plants - typically tied to manufacturing facilities - that might generate enough energy to be entered into RGGI’s auctions, but whose main purpose is to provide heat and power for that specific site, rather than to sell it commercially on the regional power grid.

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