State, Federal Policy Activity Picking Up Steam

John Walliser, Senior Vice President – Legal & Government Affairs

It didn’t take long for the new state and federal legislative sessions to become active, so let’s get right to it.

First and foremost is the Governor’s proposal to link with the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (aka “RGGI”) – a market-based, multistate platform to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from the electricity generation sector. PEC, through our decarbonization work, has been supportive of this approach for a long time. While it is only one piece of a much bigger puzzle, RGGI is the most readily available and sensible first step for our state. The program presents opportunity not only to reduce emissions in a flexible and cost-effective manner, it also provides economic investment that could propel cross-sector air pollution reductions and community and business-based investments.

Read more about RGGI here.

However, legislation has been introduced in the General Assembly to impede not only the initiative to link with RGGI, but any proposed rulemaking to address CO2 emissions. You can read our opposition to this legislation here.

Another series of bills we’re tracking closely in the state legislature are efforts to hamper rulemakings on environmental and health protections, and to allow for unwarranted permitting approvals without appropriate safeguards. You can find our running list (and reasons for opposing) here.

A few other efforts worth noting are bills we support including legislation that would help protect bicyclists, and legislation that would provide water quality protections from fertilizer application. You can find an updated list of bills, regulations, and policy-related meetings on our Tracker.

At the federal level, we are strongly supporting three bipartisan efforts in Congress.

First, companion legislation that would utilize Congressional Review Act authority to reverse proposed weakening of methane emission standards for the oil and gas industry. This legislation is supported by the environmental community and representatives of the industry alike.

Second, House and Senate legislation that would make an unprecedented investment in plugging orphaned wells. Pennsylvania has an extraordinary legacy of these hazards – estimated in the tens to hundreds of thousands – located across the state. Given that the average cost to fully remediate these wells is around $30,000 each, that represents a multi-billion dollar burden that falls on taxpayers. The REGROW (Senate) and Orphaned Well Cleanup and Jobs (House) bills would not only provide significant resources to our state to address this challenge, it will also support employment opportunities for skilled workers.


And last but certainly not least, PEC remains focused on securing re-authorization of the Abandoned Mine Land Trust Fund, which over the past several decades has provided tremendous investment in remediating abandoned mine lands and acid mine drainage treatment. As with orphaned wells, Pennsylvania faces a billion-dollar+ legacy of cleanup costs. We are also supporting the “RECLAIM” Act, which would accelerate the release of more than $1 billion from the AML Fund to target remediation opportunities near communities that have traditionally relied on the coal industry for employment or have recently experienced significant coal job losses.