Oppose HB2354 and the A08045, an attack on global warming solutions that strips Commonwealth control

Last updated: 6/28/2014

On behalf of PennEnvironment's citizen members, I am writing to ask you to oppose HB2354 and amendment A08045 in tomorrow’s Environmental Resources and Energy committee meeting. HB2354 is a short-sighted effort to oppose much-needed efforts to tackle global warming. Moreover, this bill will likely strip the Commonwealth of its power to decide how to comply with the federal Clean Air Act in its best interests.

HB2354 is an effort to undermine the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Clean Power Plan, which is a reasonable and common-sense proposal to limit global warming pollution from the single largest source in the U.S.—dirty power plants. These facilities are the source of about half of Pennsylvania’s global warming emissions.

Sadly, HB2354 will most likely put the Commonwealth on a path that will strip Pennsylvania of its power to control its own destiny. Here’s how the process works: states have to develop plans to comply with the Clean Air Act and submit them to EPA for approval. If EPA decides that a state plan is inadequate, it has the authority to impose a federal plan. This bill will greatly increase the likelihood that Pennsylvania will be unable to produce a compliance plan on time. The result? The Commonwealth would give up its ability to use the best tools at our fingertips to comply with the law and tackle global warming pollution with the least amount of pain possible—and instead will turn over control of this process to federal officials.

While some may disagree with federal efforts to tackle global warming, the case history is clear. EPA has a duty to regulate air pollution – including global warming pollution – under the Clean Air Act. The EPA officially determined in 2009 that carbon pollution endangers public health and welfare, contributing (among other impacts) to heat waves that worsen smog and sea-level rise that threatens coastal communities. The Supreme Court has re-affirmed EPA’s obligation to act in at least three major decisions, including Massachusetts v. EPA, 549 U.S. 497 (2007); American Elec. Power Co. v. Connecticut, 131 S. Ct. 2527 (2011); and this month in Utility Air Regulatory Group v. Environmental Protection Agency et al. (2014). And the Clean Air Act applies to Pennsylvania – and all states in the union. States cannot choose to selectively comply.

Just yesterday, U.S. Supreme Court justice Scalia acknowledged that EPA could regulate global warming pollution.

If the legislature passes HB2354, it will very likely take away the ability of Pennsylvania regulators and businesses to participate in crafting the required implementation plan under the Clean Power Plan; it will instead turn over power to federal officials.

For these reasons, PennEnvironment calls upon members of the House Environment Resources and Energy Commitee to oppose HB2354. Instead, we urge the legislature to support using all available tools to clean up global warming pollution from power plants, to support the EPA’s Clean Power Plan, and to support an effective implementation of the plan here in Pennsylvania instead of giving control of this process to federal regulators in Washington DC.