Gov. Wolf appeals court order blocking carbon emissions plan

Governor Tom Wolf

File photo: Gov. Tom Wolf speaking at People’s Park in Philadelphia on December 9, 2021. (Office of Gov.)

Gov. Tom Wolf’s administration has asked the state’s highest court to let the centerpiece of his plan to fight climate change take effect and make Pennsylvania the first major fossil fuel state to adopt a carbon pricing policy.

The filing late Thursday in the state Supreme Court appealed a two-day old decision by the lower Commonwealth Court which, in a one-line unsigned order, barred the official publication of the Democratic governor’s regulation “pending further order.”

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The regulation had been scheduled to be published on Saturday, making it official. But the lower court on Tuesday sided with leaders of the Republican-controlled Legislature, who a day earlier had failed in their final legislative attempt to block the regulation.

It would require fossil fuel-fired power plants to pay a price for every ton of carbon dioxide they emit starting July 1.

The high court did not immediately rule or schedule a hearing on the appeal.

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Republican lawmakers in the nation’s No. 2 natural gas state and its No. 3 coal-mining state contend that the regulation is an illegal use of regulatory authority. It would force power plants to buy hundreds of millions of dollars in credits annually that the state could then spend on clean energy or energy efficiency programs.

The plan has won approval from regulatory bodies. Wolf insists his administration has the authority to regulate carbon dioxide under existing state air pollution laws.

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