HARRISBURG — State Sen. Gene Yaw is continuing to question the impartiality and motives of a consulting firm that has been hired by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection to study the state’s participation in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative.
“Correspondence supporting Pennsylvania’s participation in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), as well as opposition to legislation requiring legislative oversight of the RGGI plan, have now been called into question as having a direct connection to ICF International Inc., a Fairfax, Virginia-based global consulting and technology services company employed by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to study Pennsylvania’s potential participation in RGGI,” Yaw (R-23), who is the Chairman of the Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee, said in a press release on Wednesday.
On July 24, Sen. Yaw sent a letter to DEP Secretary Patrick McDonnell questioning the impartiality of ICF International and its Integrated Planning Model.
“The potential conflict of interest now reported stemmed from a July 9 letter that was circulated to members of the state’s Environmental Quality Board (EQB) by the Keystone Energy Efficiency Alliance (KEEA) on behalf of 61 businesses, business associations and nonprofits supporting DEP’s proposed RGGI regulation,” the press release from Yaw said.
Yaw noted that a signatory to that support letter was ICF, a business member organization of KEEA, and the company which DEP has hired to do the independent modeling to provide an evaluation of the RGGI proposal.
According to the press release, on June 8, KEEA joined together with E2, the Pennsylvania chapter of the American Institute of Architects (AIA PA), and Green Building United to oppose the passage of House Bill 2025, which would delineate the process for legislative approval before Pennsylvania enters into any multi-state program, such as RGGI, in a letter sent to PA House Environmental Resources and Energy Committee members.
On June 11, KEEA again opposed the passage of House Bill 2025 in an electronic distribution to legislators and staff. According to KEEA, entering RGGI “could invest hundreds of millions into energy efficiency programs in Pennsylvania.”
“In a response sent exclusively to the PA Environment Digest Blog, ICF said it had no knowledge of and did not give permission for its name to be used in the July 9 letter supporting the proposal. The letter has since been removed from the KEEA website,” the press release said.
“If ICF’s name was included without their permission, how many other names were included without permission,” Yaw said. “This whole scenario calls into question the validity of the letter in any respect.”
According to Yaw, since last Friday, an additional letter has surfaced connecting the Virginia consulting firm with RGGI supporters. In June, several organizations penned a letter to the Wolf Administration, which was shared with members of the DEP Citizens Advisory Council (CAC), supporting the Department’s suggested redistribution of revenues derived through a RGGI auction of allowances. One of the signatories to that letter, “Combined Heat and Power Alliance (CHP Alliance),” also lists ICF as a participating member organization.
“For a company claiming to be non-partisan and non-political, and one that has already received $475,000 in taxpayer money to prepare an unbiased study on behalf of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, there certainly appears to be no shortage of conflicts,” Yaw said. “Interestingly enough, DEP recently awarded a new contract worth $399,000 to ICF to construct the department’s next climate change action plan.”
The Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee will be holding further hearings on RGGI in the coming weeks, according to Yaw.