Governor sues to force carbon pricing plan into effect

Gov. Tom Wolf’s administration went to court Thursday to push through its rule imposing a price on carbon dioxide emissions from fossil-fuel-fired power plants, the centerpiece of the Democratic climate change plan that is stuck in a dispute with the Republican-controlled Legislature.

The Commonwealth Court lawsuit targets a legislative agency that publishes the official weekly account of the actions of Pennsylvania state government agencies. The Wolf administration wants a court order to force the agency to publish Wolf’s settlement, which it has so far refused to do.

Publication of the regulations in the Pennsylvania Bulletin would mean they take effect immediately and would make Pennsylvania the first major fossil fuel state to adopt a carbon pricing policy.

Republicans who control the Legislature oppose the settlement and argue they have more time, several weeks at least, to see if they can muster a two-thirds majority in each chamber to block it.

Wolf’s administration argues that the legislative review period has expired and that Republicans’ interpretation of the law is flawed.

The plan has received approval from regulators and approval from the Governor’s General Counsel’s Office and the Attorney General’s Office under review for form and legality. It could still face a legal challenge in court from opponents, who argue it is an illegal use of regulatory authority.