HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP/KDKA) — The centerpiece of Gov. Tom Wolf’s plan to fight climate change took another step Tuesday toward the final regulatory threshold to impose a price on carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuel-fired power plants in Pennsylvania.

The Environmental Quality Board, composed primarily of Wolf appointees, approved the plan 15-4 to send it on to the Independent Regulatory Review Commission, which could take it up this fall.

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Wolf, a Democrat, wants the plan to take effect next year as part of a multi-state consortium, the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, which sets a price and declining limits on carbon dioxide emissions from power plants.

If Wolf is successful, Pennsylvania would become the first major fossil fuel state to adopt a carbon pricing policy. The heavily populated and fossil fuel-rich Pennsylvania has long been one of the nation’s biggest polluters and power producers.

Opponents include coal- and natural gas-related interests, various business groups and labor unions whose workers maintain power plants, build gas pipelines and mine coal. Executive Director of Pittsburgh Works Together told KDKA joining the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative would raise electric bills, claiming fossil fuel-based electricity would be phased out of the state.

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Wolf’s plan has drawn backing from environmental advocacy organizations and companies with solar, wind and nuclear power interests.

Imposing a price on carbon emissions is projected to reduce air pollution and raise tens of millions of dollars annually for the state.

Republicans who control Pennsylvania’s Legislature are working to block the plan from taking effect, but need cooperation from enough Democrats to override a Wolf veto.

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