Acting Secretary of the Department of Environmental Protection Rich Negrin, along with Jessica Shirley, Executive Deputy Secretary, Ian Harlow, Acting Deputy Sect of Administration, Ramez Ziadeh, Deputy Secretary for Field Operations, appeared before the House Appropriations Committee. Republican House members focused their questions on Governor Shapiro’s permitting reform proposal and how to ensure this process will produce results. Additionally, Republicans asked questions related to the Governor’s apparent change of policy on RGGI and its negative effects on Pennsylvania.
· House Republicans applaud Governor Shapiro’s plan to expedite the DEP permitting process, but there must be metrics to judge the success of this program.
o This process must include stakeholders and a change in culture at the Department.
· DEP should immediately repeal the Regional Green House Gas Initiative or RGGI regulation, failure to do so will result in energy price increases for all Pennsylvanians.
o If RGGI remains a part of the DEP’s policy moving forward, Governor Shapiro will be solely responsible for energy price increases.
o The “revenues” DEP estimates will be gained by RGGI are suspect at best, and the Department has shared no clear plan on how they intend to spend what money will come in.
· DEP should work proactively with local municipalities on storm water issues rather than just levying fines which end up being passed onto taxpayers.
· Plugging abandoned wells should be a priority of DEP, however, the Department must do this through cost efficient means which follow state and federal laws. This has been a struggle for DEP in the past.
Rep. Torren Ecker asks how the DEP is planning to execute the permit expediation plan.
Rep. Jim Struzzi talks about the real impact of electrcity rates and the loss of jobs if RGGI is fully implemented.
Rep. Natalie Mihalek grills DEP on the legal challenges to RGGI regulations and how any revenues from the program will be spent.
Rep. Clint Owlett asks DEP to clarify comments made in Senate hearing that RGGI is a compact and how the DEP will change the culture of their employees to become more client-driven.
Rep. Ryan Warner looks for clarity from DEP on the logistics of Pennsylvania joining RGGI and what would happen to planned revenues if RGGI was halted by the courts.
Deeper Dive – RGGI
· During his campaign, Governor Shapiro did not publicly embrace the Regional Green House Gas Initiative or RGGI. · The Candidate Shapiro said he needed to test RGGI’s impact and stated: “As governor, I will implement an energy strategy which passes that test, and it’s not clear to me that RGGI does.” He further said RGGI, “is a determination I will make as governor, in close consultation with workers and affected communities.”
· Republican House members are still waiting for these conversations.
· By refusing to repeal the unconstitutional RGGI regulations, Governor Shapiro will be responsible for increasing already high energy prices and killing family sustaining Pennsylvania jobs.
Watch Full Hearing