RGGI Scam Proposed by Wolf Runs Into Building Trades Buzzsaw

Jim Willis
Editor & Publisher, Marcellus Drilling News (MDN)


Pennsylvania’s trust-funder Governor, Tom Wolf, wants to sign the Commonwealth up for a RGGI scam Wolf to finance a slush fund but trade unions are onto him.

This is a slightly older story (from December), but an important story that deserves your attention. Last October, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf went completely off his rocker with a power-grab to force Pennsylvania into a regional RGGI alliance to tax natural gas-fired electric plants out of existence. Republicans controlling both the Pennsylvania House and Senate have pledged to stop him. Republicans now have an important new ally in their effort to stop Wolf; some 130,000 trade union members.


Wolf’s crazy plan is to force Pennsylvania to join the so-called Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), a coalition of lefty northeastern states–Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island, and Vermont, with New Jersey in the process of rejoining–who have locked arms and decided to jump off the climate cliff together. If power plants that use fossil fuels, like natural gas fired plants, want to keep operating in those states, they will have to buy credits (i.e. pay a high carbon tax) to do so. Wolf wants to make gas-fired power plants in Pennsylvania do the same. It will force many of them out of business.

Putting gas-fired power plants out of business is not in the cards according to a group of Pennsylvania House and Senate members. And now, Republicans have help from a group of over a dozen trade unions, representing 130,000 electricians, carpenters, boilermakers and other professions statewide–traditionally strong supporters of Democrats.

Lawmakers opposed to Pennsylvania entering an interstate compact limiting carbon emissions have gained a valuable ally — building trade unions.

Frank Sirianni, president of the Pennsylvania State Building & Construction Trades Council, told the Capital-Star that the group’s leadership voted unanimously this week to back a bill barring Gov. Tom Wolf from entering the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative.

“We were concerned for the thousands of jobs our members will lose and also we’re concerned with the lack of power generation supplied to the grid,” without coal, Sirianni said.

The group includes over a dozen trade unions, representing 130,000 electricians, carpenters, boilermakers and other professions statewide

Citing climate change concerns, Wolf announced in October that he was entering Pennsylvania into RGGI, a regional cap-and-trade program in the northeastern United States that limits the carbon emissions from electricity production.

Revenues from the RGGI program can then be invested “in energy efficiency, renewable energy, and other consumer benefit programs,” according to its website.

Sirianni acknowledged that investment in solar or wind alternatives would create construction jobs. But those jobs not would be not enough to keep trade workers employed, Sirianni said.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2,602 workers in Pennsylvania worked in fossil fuel electric power generation as of June 2019. They have an average yearly salary of $128,232.

The BLS lists 46 workers in the wind-powered electricity generation, who earn an annual salary for wind energy workers was $91,936. There was no BLS data available for workers in the solar industry.

Wolf contends he has the authority to make the move without legislative authorization. But lawmakers — mostly Republicans, but including some Democrats — have disagreed, and see the move as executive overreach.

Republicans leaders have suggested a legal challenge. But they’re first attempting to pass a bill that states the governor may not take “action that is designed to abate, control or limit carbon dioxide emissions” without legislative approval.

Wolf has made it clear he hopes to work with the General Assembly to build state laws around the cap-and-trade program. That includes seeking input on how to spend the estimated $250 to $400 million a year in cap-and-trade revenue…

The addition of building trades to the coalition opposing RGGI increases the odds that the preemption legislation could gain traction.

You know it’s bad for Democrats when their long-time base of support, trade labor unions, abandons them.

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