The State of Decarbonization in Pennsylvania

Davitt Woodwell, President
Davitt Woodwell, President

As climate issues garner more and more urgent attention, how Pennsylvania will address our need to deeply decarbonize our electric and transportation sectors continues to be defined. Currently in the state:

• The Department of Environmental Protection is considering an economy-wide proposal that has been submitted to the Environmental Quality Board,
• Proposed legislation is expected very shortly that would keep zero carbon nuclear assets online,
• Governor Wolf has signed his Executive Order on climate,
• New methane regulations are in the regulatory pipeline, and
• We at PEC have proposed concrete actions for the Governor and/or General Assembly to take to truly get Pennsylvania’s carbon reductions headed down.

While these approaches (and others) will likely be the focus of most of the debate and coverage for the foreseeable future, it is important to remember that there are also currently market forces as well as further legislative proposals aimed at reducing our carbon footprint. These include:

• The development of new zero-carbon generation like wind, solar, and hydro
Voluntary efforts to reduce fugitive methane emissions;
• Efforts on electric and natural gas vehicles;
Energy efficiency pushes;
• and the development of new technologies to capture and even reuse carbon dioxide.

Projects that aspire to make a real difference in reducing our carbon emissions need to be encouraged and applauded. It is, after all, the private sector that will have to use and/or develop as well as implement the technologies that will meet any policies or regulations that get put in place. While we at PEC remain pretty agnostic as to exactly what technologies to use to decarbonize, we are committed to encouraging the deployment of projects that increase the use of low and zero carbon generation, reduce the overall demand for energy, and/or significantly reduce emissions from current sources.

Pennsylvania’s relatively unique position as an energy producing state gives us both the opportunity and the responsibility to push the envelope on the questions of both what our climate goals should be and how we achieve those goals.

We hope that each of you will engage in this discussion and join us to work to find sensible and sustainable paths forward.