To Members of the Pennsylvania General Assembly:
We, the undersigned individuals and organizations, are writing to voice our support for Pennsylvania to join the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), and to voice opposition for legislative efforts to keep the Commonwealth from joining this initiative, such as HCRRR 1, Senate Bill 119, and House Bill 637.
With each day that passes, climate change becomes a more urgent threat to our Commonwealth. Local impacts of the climate crisis in Pennsylvania include heat waves, worsening air quality that harms public health, more insect-borne diseases, more intense storms and flash flooding, and agricultural losses.
As the fourth largest emitter of greenhouse gases in the nation, Pennsylvania has a responsibility to reduce our emissions, and joining RGGI will put us on the right path. Over the past twelve years, this bipartisan program has had remarkable success for the participating Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states.
● CO2 emissions in from RGGI states have fallen by 47%, outpacing the rest of the country by 90%;
● Reductions in other air pollutants, including SO2 and NOx, that can lead to premature deaths, heart attacks, and respiratory illnesses have resulted in an additional $5.7 billion in health and productivity benefits;
● Electricity prices in RGGI states have fallen by 5.7%, while prices have increased in the rest of the country by 8.6%;
● The combined economies of the RGGI states have grown by 47%, during the first ten years of the program, outpacing growth in the rest of the country by 31%.
If Pennsylvania joins the program, it is projected to reduce the Commonwealth’s carbon emissions by 188 million tons over its first decade in the program – that is the equivalent of taking 35 million cars off the road. Moreover, joining RGGI will not only cut carbon pollution, but also reduce nitrogen oxide and sulfur dioxide pollution, yielding significant health benefits for Pennsylvanians. DEP projects that by joining RGGI, Pennsylvania will avoid hundreds of premature deaths and 30,000 hospital visits for respiratory illnesses such as asthma by 2030.
Sadly, while Pennsylvanians overwhelmingly voiced support for joining RGGI during the required regulatory comment period and during the past 2-year regulatory process in general, legislative efforts to undermine the Commonwealth’s ability to participate in this successful program continue to be put forth in the General Assembly. These efforts are counter to the urgent need to reduce climate pollution, the overwhelming public support shown for participating in RGGI, and the decisions of the regulatory experts and members of IRRC who’ve given this proposal the greenlight to proceed.
We call on you to oppose any efforts to prevent Pennsylvania from taking steps to mitigate the impacts of climate change and join RGGI, particularly HCRRR1, Senate Bill 119 and House Bill 637.
Executive Director of Pennsylvania Interfaith Power & Light