Harrisburg, Pa., November 1, 2023 — Commonwealth Foundation applauds the Commonwealth Court’s decision today to halt Pennsylvania’s entrance into the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI). The appellate court rightly ruled that entry into RGGI violates that state Constitution, constituting an illegal tax that the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection lacks the authority to impose.
The five-judge panel ruled that the state’s executive branch agencies, like the Environmental Quality Board and the Department of Environmental Protection, cannot bypass the state legislature and unilaterally determine Pennsylvania’s participation in RGGI. Should the state government seek to implement the program, the court ruled it must do so legislatively.
“The Commonwealth Court’s decision to strike down RGGI as an illegal tax is a major victory against executive government overreach,” said Nathan Benefield, Senior Vice President of the Commonwealth Foundation. “We commend the court for upholding the Pennsylvania Constitution and protecting families from the devastating tax hike RGGI would have inflicted on them.”
If enacted, the IFO estimates RGGI taxes would collect nearly $800 million for state government to redistribute. That translates to an estimated 30 percent increase in residential electric bills. RGGI would have cost Pennsylvania approximately 22,000 energy industry jobs and led to $7.7 billion in economic losses.
Nathan Benefield continued: “We strongly encourage Governor Shapiro to leave RGGI in the past and—as he promised on the campaign trail—work in collaboration with the legislature to resolve the ongoing Pennsylvania budget impasse and save thousands of kids trapped in failing schools.”
The Department of Environmental Protection and Governor Shapiro have 30 days to appeal the appellate court’s decision to the state Supreme Court.
You can read the complete Commonwealth Court’s full decision here.
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