The Virginia State Air Pollution Control Board today approved the Youngkin Administration’s proposal to repeal the regulations that govern Virginia’s participation in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI). The proposal will now go through an executive review process by Gov. Youngkin before being published in the Virginia Register.
In 2020 Virginia joined RGGI as authorized by legislation passed in the General Assembly. This program, implemented in 12 Eastern states, sets a regional limit on carbon dioxide emissions from power plants. Each power plant must pay for each ton of CO2 it emits at quarterly auctions. The emissions cap lowers over time, leading to cleaner air and less pollution to waterways while reducing emissions that contribute to climate change.
The proceeds from RGGI’s auctions directly benefit Virginia’s residents: 45 percent of the revenue in Virginia from RGGI goes to the Community Flood Preparedness Fund, which supports resilience efforts from the Eastern Shore to southwest Virginia. The fund makes possible local resilience planning and dozens of local projects that prevent flooding and also reduce pollution to waterways by prioritizing nature-based resilience solutions. Additionally, 50 percent of the revenue in Virginia is dedicated to upgrading energy efficiency in the homes of Virginia families.
Chesapeake Bay Foundation Virginia Policy and Grassroots Advisor Jay Ford issued the following statement.
“Repealing RGGI will set back efforts to protect Virginia homes and businesses from flooding and slow down work to restore our rivers and streams.
“In just a few short years, RGGI is already working across Virginia to defend communities from flooding while reducing pollution to our air and water. Investment from RGGI is prioritized to nature-based projects that also filter pollution and create wildlife habitat.
“Participation in RGGI is more important than ever as climate change adds new challenges to Chesapeake Bay restoration. About one-third of the nitrogen pollution in the Chesapeake Bay comes from air pollution that eventually falls to the ground or water. Over time RGGI reduces the air pollution from power plants, which also reduces pollution to Virginia’s waterways.
“We are disappointed and considering all possible options for next steps.”