Environmental Victories or Taxpayer Liabilities?

The left leaning group, PennFuture, recently celebrated a number “Environmental Victories,” though Pennsylvania taxpayers have little to celebrate from the new mandates and regulations. Here are some of the things PennFuture celebrates:

  • Growing Greener II, a $625 million debt obligation for taxpayers slowly being paid off by a fee on solid waste disposal. The funds have been used to buy farmland and open spaces, restoration projects, sidewalk improvements and building renovation.
    • A better alternate to saving farmlands would be to eliminate the state’s inheritance tax, making it easier for family farms to be passed down, instead of sold. Further, it is far better to reduce Pennsylvania’s high tax climate and allow individuals to donate their money to support land preservation. Further, community improvement should be left to nonprofit groups and private investors.
  • Alternative Energy Portfolio Standard, requiring utilities to provide an increasing percentage of electricity from legislatively defined alternatives sources.
    • This mandate drives up the cost of electricity. The PA PUC estimates the annual cost of ownership for solar energy per kilowatthour is over 700% more expensive than the cost of coal, and wind is almost 23% more expensive than coal.
    • Much like the failure of the corn ethanol mandates, the government should not be picking winners and losers in the energy market; unfortunately that is what these alternative energy standards do. Retail energy suppliers will inevitably pass the additional costs on to the consumers as they are required to use more expensive alternative sources.
  • State Mercury Rule – in which coal-fired plants standard to reduce mercury emissions by 90%.
    • This legislation was recently overturned by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court because it was unlawful, as it went above-and-beyond federal law. While taxpayers will be save the cost of this mandate, it still cost Pennsylvania taxpayers millions in legal fees.
  • California Tailpipe Emission Standards
    • According to the Institute for Energy Research, this regulation for carbon dioxide emissions reduction for vehicles would amount to a tax of $1000 to $3000 per car; it would further have an undetectable environmental impact.