Yongkin wants Virginia to move out of the carbon reduction initiative

Richmond, Virginia (AP) — Republican Governor Glenn Youngkin announced on Wednesday that he would use his executive power to withdraw the Commonwealth from the state’s carbon cap and trade program.

Environmental lawyers and other supporters quickly argued that Virginia’s participation, which was approved by last year’s legislation, cannot be revoked by the governor alone.

Yonkin’s remarks on the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, a program between the Mid-Atlantic coast and the 11 northeastern states designed to reduce carbon emissions from power plants, were made in a speech at the Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce. It was done inside.

Yongkin, who will take office in January, has promised to withdraw Virginia from the initiative through “enforcement measures.”

“RGGI describes itself as a regional market for carbon. But in reality, it’s the carbon tax that is completely passed on to the payer. It’s a bad deal for Virginians. Companies in Virginia. It’s a bad deal for me. “

Virginia Spent years to move towards Participation in RGGI (pronounced “Reggie”). This initiative requires power plants to purchase allowances to emit a certain amount of carbon. This contributes to greenhouse gases. global warmingScientists say they are already accelerating sea level rise, exacerbating extreme conditions such as heat waves, droughts, floods and storms.

Proponents say RGGI will give power plants an incentive to reduce emissions while making non-emission generators more cost-competitive.

In 2020, the Democratic Party has full control of the state government, and lawmakers approved Measures that have become a law that makes Virginia a full participant.Recent programs Brought in Approximately $ 228 million for the first year.

Under the law, most of that income goes to state-managed accounts to support areas affected by recurrent floods and rising sea levels, and to support energy efficiency programs for low-income earners. ..

“RGGI has brought more than $ 220 million this year alone. Already federal funds have been funded to help communities cope with floods and lower energy prices for Virginia citizens who need them most. “It has been launched,” said Nate Benforad, senior lawyer at the Southern Environmental Law Center. In a statement, “This was a bipartisan law that followed a multi-year regulatory process to create a comprehensive program that could not be undone with a simple penstroke.”

Walton Shepherd, Virginia’s chief policymaker and senior lawyer for the Council for the Defense of Natural Resources, said Yongkin was “a rhetorical and legal, not to mention bipartisan, a dead end.” ..

A Yongkin spokesman declined to comment further on the governor-elect’s ideas.

The RGGI Act contained the statement that the cost of allowances purchased through the initiative would be considered an environmental compliance cost that Dominion Energy Virginia or Appalachian Power could recover from the payer. In his speech, Yongkin said he hopes Virginia will participate in paying $ 1 to $ 1.2 billion over the next four years.

Dr. Todd Gilbert, who will become Speaker of the House after the Republican Party chaired the House last month, issued a statement praising Yonkin’s remarks.

“Governor Yongkin’s announcement is a perfect example of the common-sense decision we have missed over the last eight years,” Gilbert said.

Senate democratic leadership, now The only hold of the party He defended participation in the RGGI for state government control after last month’s election cycle.

“The reversal of this law is very detrimental to the health of Virginia citizens, the protection of our natural space, and our readiness for a clean energy economy,” said majority leader Dick Saslow and chairman of the caucuses Mommy Rock. Said in a joint statement.

In his speech, Yongkin said he would be the champion of all the above energy strategies, including support for “clean burning” fossil fuels. He specifically expressed his support for the gas pipeline project in southeastern Virginia.

Many advocates say the world needs to move rapidly from natural gas to renewable energy sources.

Yongkin also promised to deal with rising sea levels. Intimidation Virginia coastal community.

“We have a challenge,” he said.

Yongkin swears on January 15th.