Comment period open for Virginia’s withdrawal from carbon trading program

Governor Glenn Youngkin signed Executive Order #9 just hours after taking the oath of office in January 2022. The document signaled the administration’s desire to withdraw from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, a multi-state compact that requires power producers to purchase credits if they exceed certain caps on the amount of emissions released into the atmosphere.

“Virginia’s participation in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) risks contributing to the increased cost of electricity for our citizens,” reads that executive order. 

Virginia joined RGGI in 2021 after the General Assembly passed legislation requiring that action as a way of reducing the state’s greenhouse gas emissions. Forty-five percent of the state’s proceeds are required by law to go to flood protection programs.

The night Youngkin was elected, Republicans won control of the House of Delegates but Democrats retained a narrow lead in the Senate. Legislation to remove Virginia from RGGI failed and so Youngkin pursued executive means.

That takes the form of repealing a rule adopted by the State Air Pollution Control Board. On June 7, the Board voted 4-3 to repeal the rule and that is now making its way through the regulatory process as viewable on the Virginia Regulatory Town Hall. Public comments are currently being taken. At publication time on this archive website, there are eighty-six comments . 

This week, the Southern Environmental Law Center issued a Notice of Appeal to the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality stating they would file a lawsuit in Fairfax Circuit Court challenging the executive withdrawal. 

“There are still serious questions as to whether the Air Board actually has the authority to pull the state out of RGGI,” SELC Senior Attorney Nate Benforado is quoted in a press release.

Where do candidates for the General Assembly stand? This is one issue to track as election day looms.  

The repeal of the Carbon Dioxide Trading Program rules takes the form of a long strike-through (Credit: Virginia Regulatory Town Hall)

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