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Governor's new proposal could spark dramatic shift in America's energy policy: 'We will set our own cap'

The time for action is now.

The time for action is now.

Photo Credit: iStock

In a move signaling a bold step toward managing pollution, Gov. Josh Shapiro introduced a state-led initiative aimed at cutting pollution from power plants in Pennsylvania. 

As reported by Inside Climate News, the two new proposals were presented as the Pennsylvania Climate Emissions Reduction Act and Pennsylvania Reliable Energy Sustainability Standard. 

Earlier plans for Pennsylvania were to continue participating in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative with 10 other Northeastern states. Now, Shapiro wants Pennsylvania to take charge of its energy future, setting its own standards independent of regional influence.

"We will not take direction from anyone outside of this Commonwealth," Shapiro said in a news conference. "We will set our own cap and price for those carbon credits, and we won't have any other state determining what is right for us here in Pennsylvania."

PACER, the cornerstone of Shapiro's plan, involves setting caps on carbon pollution by power plants and requiring them to purchase credits to offset excess pollution. Crucially, 70% of the revenue generated would be returned to residents, ensuring that no one faces increased electricity bills, with the remainder allocated to clean-energy projects

PRESS, on the other hand, mandates a shift toward renewable sources, aiming to pull 50% of electricity from such sources by 2035.

These proposals promise not just environmental benefits but also significant economic advantages. Shapiro estimates the creation of 14,500 energy jobs and utility bill savings totaling $252 million over five years.

Initial reactions to Shapiro's plans reflect the political divide in Pennsylvania's legislature. While some Republican lawmakers express skepticism, citing concerns about job losses and higher energy prices, others, including Robert Bair, president of the Pennsylvania Building & Construction Trades Council, voice support for the governor's proactive stance. Bair's endorsement signals a broad backing among trade unions, previously torn over Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative membership.

The path ahead is not without challenges. Shapiro faces an uphill battle in securing legislative approval. Nevertheless, advocates such as David Masur of PennEnvironment emphasize the necessity of exploring multiple avenues for pollution reduction, especially amid legal battles over RGGI membership.

By prioritizing local control, these initiatives have the potential to make meaningful progress in the fight to fix our warming world. As the debate unfolds, one thing remains clear: The time for action is now.

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