In a stunning move that goes against his campaign promises, Pennsylvania’s Democrat Governor Josh Shapiro has acted to appeal a court decision that had rightfully thrown out the unconstitutional move to have the state join the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI).
A few short weeks ago, the state’s Commonwealth Court threw out former Governor Tom Wolf’s attempt to force Pennsylvania into the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative. A governor attempting to shove Pennsylvania into a multi-state carbon tax scheme without legislative approval is evidently unconstitutional. Only the legislature can impose a tax.
As a candidate for Governor last year, Shapiro tip-toed around the RGGI issue, expressing skepticism, and proposing an energy and climate plan that did not include RGGI. His decision to appeal the Commonwealth Court’s correct ruling throwing out Wolf’s RGGI commitment comes as somewhat of a surprise.
Nathan Benefield, Senior Vice President of the Commonwealth Foundation highlighted the Governor’s move as potentially a cynical tactic: “Actually, the full statement is more of a threat: “Come to the table” and pass a different energy tax scheme, or else I’ll impose the RGGI tax unilaterally. If the Governor just wanted to work with the legislature, there’s no need to sue for executive authority.”
According to Commonwealth, joining RGGI will drive up energy bills by as much as 30% and tax away upwards of $800 million to be spent by unaccountable, unelected bureaucrats that manage RGGI.
Republican legislative leaders slammed the decision.
Senate President Pro Temp Kim Ward released a statement saying Shapiro, “would rather unnecessarily tax Pennsylvanians and make them feel virtuous about raising their electricity rates and eliminate good paying jobs than face the traditional factions in his own Democratic party.”
Rep. Seth Grove tweeted: “Gov. Shapiro wants a $600 million tax on YOU. He also wants to ability for Governors (including him) to levy taxes on you through executive fiat.” Rep. Grove flags the potential for future Governors to do worse than imposing a carbon tax.
Pennsylvania disproved the idea that RGGI lowered carbon emissions, with the state’s emissions declining as much as those of RGGI member states since its creation in 2005. If the Supreme Court does not reject the Governor’s appeal, Pennsylvanians will pay a tax, and higher energy bills, for no benefit whatsoever – and taxpayers will forever face the threat of executives imposing taxes without legislative approval.