RGGI Effect to 459
Aric Baker, Sr. Business Rep.
On October 3, 2019 Governor Wolf announced his intentions to enter PA into the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), which is essentially a carbon tax on fossil fuel generating stations. By doing this Gov. Wolf initiated the legislative process of how it would be applied in PA. At this point PA has already surpassed carbon emission reduction goals as set forth by the Wolf administration for the year 2030.
During the legislative process we need to make our voices heard due to the fact RGGI will ultimately put coal fired generators out of business and put further strain on natural gas fired units by raising the cost per megawatt hour. Generation work accounts for just shy of 40% of Local 459’s income, so the loss of those jobs would have a significant impact on the Local as a whole. Beyond our fellow union members, it is estimated that another 8000-10,000 ancillary jobs would be lost if these plants close. Expanding on that is the loss of income to local businesses that these workers patronize. Plant workers, coal truck drivers, coal miners, trade workers, machine shops, suppliers, train crews, etc… It’s hard to fathom how big the impact would actually be. There also would be a major loss of tax revenue across the state, including local schools and municipalities as these plants and their workers account for a significant amount of their tax base. The state’s overall economy will suffer as this will cause PA to transition from an energy exporter to an energy importer.
As far as environmental impacts resulting from PA entering into RGGI, it has been predicted that after RGGI is implemented, the remaining coal fired plants in PA; which have the most efficient and modern pollution controls available, will be shuttered. The loss of generation will be fulfilled by plants from neighboring states like OH & WV, who are not part of RGGI. These plants are outdated and do not have the same level of pollution controls of the shuttered plants, thus resulting in more pollution.
We will be asking for support with this matter in the near future from all of our members as the detrimental effect will be felt by everyone in PA if RGGI is implemented. Whether it be job loss, taxes or increased energy bills I believe that everyone across the state will be negatively impacted one way or another. Please feel free to contact me with any questions or suggestions you may have.