Pennsylvania joins coalition requiring utilities to curb carbon emissions

Pennsylvania joins coalition requiring utilities to curb carbon emissions
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Pennsylvania will join a coalition of nine other Northeast states that cap the amount of pollution power plants can emit.

Gov. Tom Wolf (D) signed an executive order Thursday that commits the state to the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), which requires power plants to buy credits for the carbon pollution they emit.

“Climate change is the most critical environmental threat confronting the world, and power generation is one of the biggest contributors to greenhouse gas emissions,” Wolf said in a release. “Given the urgency of the climate crisis facing Pennsylvania and the entire planet, the commonwealth must continue to take concrete, economically sound and immediate steps to reduce emissions."

Utilities are the second-largest source of carbon pollution in the country. The funds raised through the cap and trade program are then invested in efforts to reduce energy consumption, like energy efficiency programs, or efforts to boost clean electricity.

Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island and Vermont are the other members of RGGI.

RGGI’s goals, primarily to reduce carbon pollution, could be a big undertaking for a state that is still reliant on fossil fuels.

Pennsylvania gets more than half of its electricity from natural gas and coal, both of which emit carbon when burned. 

The state’s economy also remains reliant on the fossil fuel sector. Pennsylvania is one of the biggest producers and consumers of natural gas and is also the nation’s fourth largest producer of coal.

Growth in RGGI comes as many of the same states are considering a similar program to limit carbon pollution from transportation