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PA Joins 8 Other States, D.C. To Develop Regional Program To Cap Greenhouse Gas Pollution From Transportation

On December 18, Pennsylvania and a coalition of 8 Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states and the District of Columbia announced the formation of a regional Transportation and Climate Initiative and their intent to design a new regional low-carbon transportation policy proposal that would cap and reduce carbon emissions from the combustion of transportation fuels, and invest proceeds from the program into low-carbon and more resilient transportation infrastructure.

The initiative, endorsed by Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, and Washington, D.C., describes the goals of such a program, including reducing climate changing pollution, creating economic opportunity, and improving transportation equity for currently underserved and overburdened populations.

It also sets a goal of completing the policy design process within one year, after which each jurisdiction will decide whether to adopt and implement the policy.

“PennDOT is proud to partner with our sister Northeastern state transportation and environmental protection agencies in TCI’s bold initiative to reduce carbon emissions from the transportation sector and to strengthen the resiliency of our transportation infrastructure,” said Leslie S. Richards, Secretary, Pennsylvania Department of Transportation.  “We look forward to actively participating in this multi-state policy development process to evaluate low-carbon transportation options. As one of the most economically dynamic regions in the world, the northeastern States working together have enormous potential to change the direction of climate policy toward sustainability.”

“With the federal government’s latest climate report, it is clear that delaying action on climate change is no longer an option,” said Patrick McDonnell, Secretary, Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection.  “Through the Transportation Climate Initiative, the bipartisan leaders of the northeast and mid-Atlantic region have committed to working together to tackle the largest source of greenhouse gases in our region. Pennsylvania is a state with abundant alternative energy resources and we look forward to bolstering our efforts to make our transportation systems smarter, more efficient, better for people, and better for the planet.”

Specific Steps

The regional Transportation and Climate Initiative agreed in a joint statement to take these specific steps to develop a regional carbon emission reduction initiative, according to the agreement--

1. Regional Policy Design. We will cooperate to design the regional policy, focusing on areas where consistency across jurisdictional boundaries is important. Decisions to be made during the regional policy design process include the following:

   a. Determine the level at which to cap emissions;

   b. Develop monitoring and reporting guidelines to ensure that transportation related emissions decline over time;

   c. Identify the regulated entities and determine which fuels to include;

   d. Develop mechanisms for cost containment and compliance flexibility;

   e. Identify shared priorities for investment of proceeds;

   f. Establish clear processes and timelines for implementation; and

   g. Assess ways to foster broader transportation equity across communities.

2. Expert Consultation. We will consult with experts, including those with expertise in transportation equity, throughout the design and potential implementation of the regional policy.

3. Further Stakeholder Engagement. Building on previous stakeholder engagement and the listening sessions held to date, we will engage with the public to invite their input on policy design questions, including through specific outreach to underserved communities, fuel providers, and other businesses. Individual jurisdictions may choose

to carry out their own parallel processes with the regional process.

4. Technical, Environmental and Economic Analysis. We will jointly carry out technical, environmental, and economic analysis to better understand the benefits and costs of regional transportation policy and how those benefits and costs may be distributed across different user groups.

5. Complementary policy development. At the same time that TCI states are designing and planning for implementation of a regional policy, we may choose to explore the design and potential implementation of complementary policies, such as coordinated infrastructure planning, land use planning improvements, and the development of green banks and other innovative financing mechanisms.

Click Here to read the full statement of the regional Transportation and Climate Initiative.  Click Here for statements from other participating states.

The work of TCI is facilitated by the Georgetown Climate Center.

Earlier this year, TCI jurisdictions hosted a series of six regional listening sessions that informed Tuesday’s statement.

For more information, visit the Transportation and Climate Initiative website.


“Gov. Tom Wolf is showing real leadership in this commitment to developing a program that will limit climate pollution from our cars and trucks,” said Mandy Warner, Senior Manager of Climate and Air Policy for Environmental Defense Fund. “Now is the time to expand this commitment to include climate pollution from the electric power sector. Right now, Pennsylvania is the only state from Maine to Virginia without a plan to cut pollution from their power plants.”

Other PA Actions On Climate

There were several significant actions taken in the last few weeks related to climate issues in Pennsylvania.  This is a quick summary.

Cap-And-Trade Petition

On November 27, Robert B. McKinstry, Jr., the Clean Air Council, Widener University Environmental Law and Sustainability Center, eco(n)law LLC and 61 other individuals, groups, businesses and local governments submitted a rulemaking petition to the Environment Quality Board to establish a market-based cap-and-trade greenhouse gas emission reduction program that eliminates those emissions from major sources by 2052.

The Department of Environmental Protection is now reviewing the petition to see if it meets the requirements for consideration by the EQB.  If it is acceptable, it will go to the EQB for a vote on whether the petition should be accepted for study.  Read more here.

Nuclear Energy Caucus

On November 29, Senators Ryan Aument (R-Lancaster) and John Yudichak (D-Luzerne) along with Representatives Becky Corbin (R-Chester) and Rob Matzie (D-Allegheny), co-chairs of the Senate-House Nuclear Energy Caucus released a report summarizing their findings on the impact of closing nuclear power plants in Pennsylvania and outlining potential solutions.

The report, which will be transmitted to all members of the General Assembly and to Gov. Wolf, includes four options for the future of the state’s challenged industry, including the General Assembly taking action in 2019 to prevent the “employment, economic, and environmental devastation” associated with the premature closure of nuclear plants in the Commonwealth.

One of the options in the report is to impose a carbon tax on energy sources.  Read more here.

PA Climate Action Plan Update

DEP’s Climate Change Advisory Committee is scheduled to meet on December 4 to review the draft 2018 PA Climate Action Plan and recommendations as well as an updated Greenhouse Gas Emissions Inventory.

Draft Plan recommendations will, for the first time, include overall greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets of a 26 percent reduction in net emissions by 2025 from 2005 levels and an 80 percent net reduction by 2050 to gauge the results of the recommended strategies..

The targets are in line with the goals established in the goal established by the 2015 U.N. Paris Climate AgreementRead more here.

Oil & Gas Methane Limits

DEP’s Air Quality Technical Advisory Committee is scheduled to meet December 13 on a draft regulation to set limits on volatile organic compound emissions-- with the “co-benefit” of reducing methane emissions-- from existing well sites, pumps, storage and other equipment at oil and gas facilities.  Read more here.

Senate Climate Hearing

On November 28, the Senate Democratic Policy Committee held a hearing in Pittsburgh on local and state efforts to address climate change.

“In the absence of federal leadership on climate change, it is imperative that Pennsylvania continue to participate in cooperative efforts to stave off the catastrophic consequences of global warming,” said Sen. Jay Costa (D-Allegheny). “We need to maintain efforts to keep Pennsylvania on track to combat climate change.”  Read more here.

Visit DEP’s Climate Change webpage to learn more about state climate initiatives.


Legere: PA Signs On To Major Regional Plan To Cut Car, Truck Carbon Emissions

Cusick: PA Joins Regional Effort To Cut Carbon Emissions From Vehicles

Regional Climate Initiative To Reduce Transportation Emissions Would Mirror RGGI

AP: PA, Coalition Of States Work To Curb Carbon Emissions From Transportation

Editorial: State Right To Curb Carbon Emissions

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Harrisburg University Distinguished Speaker Series On Climate Disruption, Sustainable Development

Op-Ed: Conservatives Should Lead The Way On Clean Energy That Creates Jobs, Prosperity

[Posted: Dec. 19, 2018]


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