The PennEnvironment Research & Policy Center's webinar brings national RGGI experts together to inform local residents
[Philadelphia, PA] -- With Pennsylvania poised to join the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), one of the largest and most successful programs for tackling climate pollution in the nation, The PennEnvironment Research & Policy Center hosted a virtual panel Wednesday night for local residents to educate them about RGGI, its successes, and why Pennsylvania would benefit from joining the initiative.
Top state officials from Connecticut, Maryland, and Delaware discussed their experiences participating in RGGI for more than a decade, and why they believe joining the program would reap significant benefits for the Keystone State. This bolstered estimates that Pennsylvania could raise $2 billion during the state’s first ten years participating in the program. Business leaders and non-profit advocates rounded out the panel to discuss why RGGI makes sense for Pennsylvania. Around two hundred Pennsylvanians tuned in to learn more about this program and its successes.
A recording of the panel is available on PennEnvironment’s Facebook page.
RGGI was established in 2009 and currently consists of every state on the east coast between Virginia and Maine--except Pennsylvania. It is arguably one of the most successful state-level programs for reducing climate pollution in the nation, with participating states seeing CO2 emissions drop by more than 100 million tons per year while providing over $1.4 billion in net economic benefits. Recent polling shows that Pennsylvanians overwhelmingly support joining the program, with 72% of respondents stating that they support the state joining the initiative.
“With the record wildfires scorching the West and hurricanes battering the Gulf Coast, many Pennsylvanians are wondering what can be done right here in our state to tackle climate change” said PennEnvironment Research and Policy Center’s Field Director, Flora Cardoni. “As all of our speakers made clear tonight, joining RGGI is a step in the right direction to do our part to reduce climate pollution.”
The panelists included:
Secretary Ben Grumbles, Maryland Secretary of the Environment
Robert Underwood, Energy Section Administrator for the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control
Nicholas Zuba, Senior Manager at the Connecticut Green Bank
Gary Christopher, Director of Weatherization at Community Action Council of Howard County
Dave Pepper, President of C.A.R.E. Property Services
Mark Szybist, Senior Attorney at Natural Resources Defense Council
All of the speakers discussed the benefits of RGGI in their respective participating states, from emissions reductions to funding affordable housing and weatherization programs, and the potential benefits for Pennsylvania joining the program.
“In Delaware, RGGI money helps fund a variety of programs that reduce energy use and assist low income families with energy bill payments," said Robert Underwood, Energy Section Administrator for the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control. "Our Weatherization Assistance Program, which in 2019 weatherized 199 homes, saving a combined 105,244 kWh, provides no-cost upgrades to homes to decrease energy use and reduce energy bills."
"RGGI funds have helped families with fossil fuel furnaces/boilers reduce their energy consumption and carbon footprint via home weatherization when their homes would not qualify for other weatherization programs" said Dave Pepper, president of C.A.R.E. Property Services based in State College, PA.
If Pennsylvania joins RGGI, it is estimated that the commonwealth would cut its carbon pollution by 188 million tons in the first decade alone -- equivalent to taking 35 million cars off the road, while creating 27,000 Pennsylvania jobs and boosting the economy by nearly $2 billion between now and 2030.
“RGGI is not just good for our environment and climate, but if done right it will be good for consumers, help the most vulnerable rate payers, fund important housing and energy programs, create jobs, and protect our health,” said Cardoni. “Joining our neighboring states in this alliance would also create a healthier, more vibrant region with clean air and a commitment to climate action that transcends borders.”
Pennsylvania’s Department of Environmental Protection is expected to open up a public comment period about RGGI in the coming months, with hundreds of attendees from Wednesday’s webinar poised to voice their support for Pennsylvania joining the program.
“We're confident that the public comment period will show how broad and deep support runs for RGGI and for implementing solutions to address the climate crisis here in the Keystone State," said Flora.
The PennEnvironment Research & Policy Center is a statewide non-profit environmental group dedicated to protecting our water, air and open spaces. We investigate problems, craft solutions, educate the public and decision-makers, and help the public make their voices heard