Pennsylvania Legacies #153: Policy Check-In

John Walliser, Senior VP, Legal & Government Affairs

One month ago, the state Regulatory Review Commission signed off on a rulemaking that would make Pennsylvania the newest member of RGGI, the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative – the state’s best opportunity to substantially reduce its contribution to climate change. Along with emission reductions, Pennsylvania will also reap significant financial rewards through the sale of carbon dioxide emission allowances.

The vote was one of the final hurdles DEP needed to clear before the rule can take effect next year. With 2022 now in sight, the focus shifts to how the Commonwealth can leverage RGGI proceeds to grow its energy economy and support its citizens through the transition.

“We know these investments aren’t luxuries. They’re essential to our health and well-being,” said John Walliser, Senior VP for Legal & Government Affairs. 

This is just one issue that the General Assembly will face when they return for the fall. Here are more highlights to watch for in the coming months.

We know these investments aren’t luxuries. They’re essential to our health and well-being.

Climate & Energy
  • HB 1565 and SB 15: Legislation to expand what RGGI proceeds can be used for, beyond the existing language in the Air Pollution Control Act. Though this Act provides lots of opportunities for climate programs, it wouldn’t allow RGGI money to be used for programs that don’t directly address air pollution, like community investment, energy consumer assistance programs, and environmental justice-focused programs.
  • Methane Rulemaking: DEP has released a proposed rulemaking to address VOCs and emissions of methane from existing natural gas production and infrastructure. The rulemaking would require operators to carry out regular inspections and leak detection. However, the rulemaking currently exempts low-producing wells, which are responsible for emitting significant amounts of methane. PEC supports the rulemaking in general, but is advocating for DEP to strengthen it to include regulations for low-producing wells.
  • HB 1694 — Will expand the Recreational Use of Land and Water Act to include liability protection for volunteers and trail groups in addition to landowners who allow public use of their land for recreation. 
  • SB 525 & SB 832: Two bills that would appropriate American Rescue Plan dollars for watershed conservation and recreational programs.
    • SB 525: Expanding on the existing Growing Greener program.
    • SB 832: A more specific bill, focused on watershed and water quality improvements by establishing a “Clean Streams Fund”.

Stay current on all of these measures and more by visiting the PEC bill tracker tool. We keep a comprehensive running list of current bills and rulemakings related to the environment, conservation, and outdoor recreation. It’s easy to navigate, and to find the current status of any proposal. You can also find out where PEC stands, and learn how to share input with your elected representatives.