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Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative in Pennsylvania

What is RGGI?

“RGGI” stands for the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, and currently includes all states from Virginia to Maine except for Pennsylvania.The electricity sector is the second largest source of  carbon dioxide and other health-impacting toxins in Pennsylvania. RGGI would set a regional limit on carbon pollution from electric power plants, putting a fee on carbon and making polluters pay to clean up their own messes. This revenue gets invested straight back into Pennsylvania. 

“The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it.” (Psalm 24:1)

For Pennsylvanians to be good neighbors, we must consider the impact fouling God’s creation has on our children’s health. RGGI helps ensure clean air and pure water for our children and future generations. 

How will RGGI Benefit Pennsylvanians?

It is projected that RGGI will create over 30,000 new jobs; cut power plant carbon pollution by 25%; and generate funds that support economic recovery, create new family sustaining jobs, increase clean energy production, and lower consumer energy costs.

Pennsylvania is the only state in the region that has yet to join RGGI. Since 2005, RGGI states have reduced their power sector carbon pollution by 45%. Every year that Pennsylvania delays in joining means losing  money and missing out on creating new family-sustaining jobs. The funds from RGGI could have been used to retrain Pennsylvanians for new long lasting careers. Just consider how we could have made a difference everyday in Pennsylvania with $1.5 billion lost from not being a part of RGGI since 2021. The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection estimates participating in RGGI would increase the state's GDP by $2 billion from 2022 to 2030. 

Additionally, RGGI will ensure cleaner, pollution-free air and water in Pennsylvania. RGGI will benefit the health of all Pennsylvanians, especially its most vulnerable populations, children, pregnant women, their unborn babies, and the elderly. According to a 2022 United Health Care Report, Pennsylvania ranks 46th of 50 in state air and water quality. To put these health benefits more specifically, participating in RGGI will prevent 639 premature deaths and lead to 30,000 fewer hospital visits due to respiratory illnesses, as well as avoid 83,000 lost work days due to health impacts. 

Carbon pollution results in rising temperatures that lead to a variety of health risks and impacts including increasing vector borne diseases transmitted from ticks and mosquitoes. And Pennsylvania is feeling this impact as the Commonwealth has the highest number of Lyme Disease cases in the United States, with approximately 38% of all Lyme disease cases within the United States occurring in Pennsylvania. Ticks can transmit pathogens such as various parasitic worms, viruses, and bacteria, and, to make matters worse, “there are several emerging tick-borne diseases about which little is known.”

Fossil fuel combustion that results in carbon pollution is also the main source of soot (PM 2.5) pollution. Recently, researchers identified the 10 worst air pollution hotspots in the country, analyzing factors like local geography, local industry, and vehicle traffic and how they affect air pollution levels. Many of these hotspots are not surprising: central Atlanta, Chicago’s South and West Sides, Los Angeles, and Houston. But one entry among these worst offenders is likely unexpected: semi-rural central Pennsylvania. The region - stretching from near Reading west past Carlisle and south to York County, and encompassing the Harrisburg and Lancaster areas - ranked as the 8th most polluted area of the country. PM 2.5 has been linked to asthma, severe allergies, autism, ADHD, dementia, cardio-pulmonary diseases, and a shorter life span. Furthermore, PM 2.5 is the leading cause of intrauterine inflammation which causes preterm birth. Preterm births account for 75% of perinatal mortality and more than half the long-term morbidity. Preterm birth and low birth weight, which has been linked to methane exposure by a recent medical study, are leading risk factors for death in the first month of life, contributing to an estimated 1.8 million deaths worldwide. With all these health impacts in mind, RGGI is essential to helping our children and future generations survive and thrive. 

What can you do? 

“‘Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?’ The expert in the law replied, ‘The one who had mercy on him.’ Jesus told him, ‘Go and do likewise.’” (Luke 10:36-37)

As pro-life evangelicals, we believe in defending the quality of life from conception to natural death. Clean air and pure water are essential for our children and future generations, as well as for ourselves. To be good neighbors, we need to care for the Garden of Eden that surrounds us. A survey conducted by Climate Nexus, the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication and the George Mason University Center for Climate Change Communication showed that 72% of Pennsylvanians support joining RGGI. Let’s make sure that Pennsylvania lawmakers know it!