Senate Republicans have taken a stand against Governor Wolf’s go-it-alone approach on a cap-and-trade scheme, and he’s responded by throwing a tantrum. In previous blog posts, we’ve mentioned that Governor Wolf took executive action for Pennsylvania to join the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, or RGGI (usually pronounced Reggie).
The Governor signed an executive order in 2019, starting the process; several things have happened since then. Last year, the Governor vetoed bipartisan legislation that would have barred him from entering into RGGI without legislative approval. In February of 2021, the Independent Regulatory Review Commission (IRRC) requested that the Environmental Quality Board (EQB) delay joining RGGI for a year. At this point, there is no indication that the EQB will honor that request. (The EQB is a twenty-member independent board that adopts all of the DEP’s regulations.)
The General Assembly is in the process of advancing legislation similar to what the Governor vetoed last year. In the meantime, Senate Republicans recently informed the Governor that they would not begin the confirmation process for nominees to the Public Utilities Commission (PUC). They indicated that they would lift the hold on PUC nominees once Wolf agreed to stop moving the Commonwealth into RGGI and work with the General Assembly on the issue.
The Senate Republicans’ response was perfectly reasonable and targeted in nature. They indicated that the confirmation process for other nominees would continue uninterrupted. Governor Wolf’s response would make any two-year-old proud. He withdrew the nominations of three cabinet officials. Wolf then fired members of the charter school appeals board, PHEAA, the Banking and Securities Commission, and others. Most of the appointees he terminated had been Republican appointees, and Wolf did not indicate that he would nominate replacements. The Banking and Securities Commission case no longer has enough members to reach a quorum. It is now prevented from taking official action.
If you’d like to learn more about this issue and where it goes from here, CAP CEO Leo Knepper spoke with Pennsylvania Sen. Joe Pittman (R-41) about the topic. You can find the video of that conversation below.