Coat of arms of Pennsylvania

Petition to Keystone State Seeks Carbon Pricing as Climate Change Solution

The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is officially considering a petition filed yesterday (November 27, 2017) by the Clean Air Council and many other people and organizations to implement an economy-wide auction-cap-and-trade program for Pennsylvania, with measures to prevent leakage and auction most allowances with a reserve price. The program will create substantial revenue for the Commonwealth while substantially reducing greenhouse gas emissions. A summary of the petition is set forth below in the cover email submitted to the Commonwealth today. The petition itself and the regulation it proposes are attached. Also, a program is being held today (Nov. 28, 2018) at the Philadelphia Bar Association in Philadelphia from noon to 2:15 to discuss carbon pricing in general and the petition specifically, with the authors of the petition and other lawyers and academics presenting. For all the information and to register to attend in person or by live webcast: click here

Draft EQB Regulation 

PA Auction Cap and Trade Petition

Rulemaking Petition to Establish an Economy-Wide Auction-Cap-and-Trade Program for Pennsylvania

Dear Secretary McDonnell, Ms. Edinger, and Honorable Members of the Board,

On behalf of ourselves and the other petitioners identified on Exhibit A to the attached Petition, we hereby submit for the consideration of the Environmental Quality Board the attached Petition Pursuant to 25 Pa. Code §§ 23.1-23.5, Article I, §27 of the Pennsylvania Constitution, and the Pennsylvania Air Pollution Control Act to Adopt the Attached Regulation Establishing a Comprehensive Program to Limit Greenhouse Gas Emissions Though an Auction-Cap-and-Trade Program to Conserve and Maintain a Stable Climate and Other Public Resources for Which the Commonwealth is a Trustee (“Petition”).  We also attach a courtesy Word version of the proposed regulation for the Department’s use.  The Petition and the proposed regulation attached as Exhibit B to the Petition conform to the requirements of 25 Pa. Code §§ 23.1-23.5.

In light of the ongoing and severe damage to the public natural resources caused by unconstrained emissions of greenhouse gas pollutants, we urge the Board to act swiftly on this Petition and to adopt the attached regulation as quickly as feasible consistent with the requirements of law and appropriate public participation.  The recent report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and the U.S. Global Change Research Program’s Fourth National Climate Assessment, Volume II: Impacts, Risks, and Adaptation in the United States underscore the need for haste to address the looming emergency posed by climate disruption.  The proposed regulation and the analysis of facts, law, impacts, costs and benefits contained in the Petition contain all that is necessary to proceed to the publication of a proposed rule in the Pennsylvania Bulletin.  The Administration could, therefore, move more quickly than the timelines set forth in 25 Pa. Code §§ 23.1-23.5, and should do so in light of the looming climate emergency.

The Commonwealth’s duty as a trustee under Article I, § 27 of the Constitution requires that the Board proceed with all due haste to limit the damage to the Commonwealth’s public natural resources and the health of current and future generations caused by unchecked greenhouse gas pollution.  The proposed regulation would create a measured and foreseeable path for the Commonwealth and its industry to do what is necessary to avoid the worst consequences of climate disruption. It would provide a solution to the problem of financially stressed nuclear electric generating facilities and provide an incentive for investment in the types of projects that will be key to keeping Pennsylvania’s economy strong as we transition to an economy that does not emit greenhouse gas pollution. The proposed regulation will also have significant co-benefits.  It will allow the Commonwealth to address its severe and structural budget deficit without the continued depletion of the environmental capital that the Supreme Court held unconstitutional in PEDF v. Commonwealth.  If used wisely, some of the income could be used to provide seed capital for the infrastructure projects that will be necessary to adapt to the effects of climate disruption.

There are other organizations that wish to become petitioners but have not yet been able to complete the procedures necessary to allow them to do so.  Therefore, as suggested by Exhibit A, we intend to supplement this submission by adding additional petitioners before the next Board meeting.

We look forward to presenting our proposal to the Board.

Thank you for your consideration.

Respectfully submitted:

Robert B. McKinstry, Jr.
Joseph Minott, Clean Air Council
Robert Routh, Clean Air Council
John C. Dernbach, Widener Commonwealth Law School Environmental Law and Sustainability Center
Baird Brown, eco(n)law LLC

Get the “Love the Pope” Tee Shirt

Pope Francis comes to the United States next week with a message of love, hope, and concern for all people and the planet.

He will arrive in Washington, DC, on Tuesday, September 22. On Wednesday, September 23, he will meet with President Obama at the White House. On Thursday, September 24, he will address a joint session of Congress. That night he will travel to New York City, where he will address the UN General Assembly on Friday, September 25. On Saturday, September 26, he will come to Philadelphia for the World Meeting of Families. While here, he will give a speech at Independence Hall, visit a prison, say mass on Ben Franklin Parkway, and then fly back to Rome that same night.

And you thought you had a busy schedule.

Throughout his U.S. visit, Pope Francis is expected to emphasize concern for the poor and disadvantaged, the need for moral and spiritual growth, and the crucially important issue of environmental degradation of the planet, including the need to fight climate change.

As people of conscience committed to fighting climate change, we come from diverse religious traditions or no religious tradition at all.  But when it comes to climate change, we love the Pope because of the strength and clarity of his message. He reminds us that this is a moral issue.

To commemorate the visit of Pope Francis, we have commissioned a limited run of tee shirts with the “Love the Pope” logo on the front and the words “Lawyers for Common Sense on Climate Change” on the back for the first 100 people who make a minimum donation of $20 to A Call to the Bar through the donate button on our web site. Also, send us an email at with the size of the tee shirt (youth large, and adult M, L XL, and XXL). We will ship as soon as possible so hopefully they will arrive in the mail before the Pope gets to Philadelphia.

Final Pope Logo

A Call to the Bar is a Pennsylvania non-profit corporation, and all funds are used to further our mission. We are not a tax exempt organization under IRS Code section 501(c)(3). We decided not to seek tax exempt status because that would place legal limits on our lobbying efforts, and we will accept no limits on our efforts to convince elected officials of the need for immediate government action on climate change.

Climate Change: It’s Up to You New York, New York

The juggernaut that is A Call to the Bar: Lawyers for Common Sense on Climate Change hit the Big Apple in a big way on May 14, 2015, as volunteers Yolanda Pagano and Steve Harvey met with the Environmental Committee of the New York City Bar Association to discuss why lawyers should take a leadership role on climate change.

We were too late. Lawyers in New York are already leading the way. In 2009, the NYC Bar Association endorsed a Statement of Principles calling for strong government action on climate change, including carbon pricing, without which we will never control our future.

Yolanda Pagano

Yolanda Pagano

And in September 2014, right after the huge climate rally in New York, the NYC Bar Association hosted a program that featured New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, who made some of the strongest statements heard yet about lawyers taking a stance on climate change.

  • “while the evidence and the technical solutions for dealing with climate change may come to us from scientists and engineers, it will be public officials, lawyers and activists who will determine how – or if – those solutions get implemented.”
  • “we all need to ratchet up our creativity and our outreach to make it clear for everyone to understand, and easy for everyone to understand, that climate change is already affecting each of us, it’s affecting our communities, it’s affecting our friends and family, and that it will get worse very quickly if we do not mobilize to demand action both from the government and from leaders in the private sector.”
  • “We’re not going to see real action from politicians and business leaders until we create a much broader shift in public consciousness.”

Hear him. Hear him.


left to right: Mike Mahoney, Jeff Smith, Stephen G. Harvey


Hats off to the NYC Bar Association and its Environmental Committee (chaired by the estimable Mike Mahoney of Pfizer) for being out front on climate change. And thank you Attorney General Schneiderman. We need many more elected officials with your understanding and passion on this critical issue, regardless of political stripe.