Protect clean air in Virginia! Our participation in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative is under attack
What’s the issue? Gov. Glenn Youngkin is attempting to unlawfully remove Virginia from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative even though the public widely supports this climate policy and the General Assembly passed legislation for Virginia to join RGGI in 2020 after years of deliberation.
Youngkin’s misguided attempt to pull Virginia out of RGGI has been a months-long process involving regulatory action by the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality. This new phase in the governor’s attempted repeal includes a 60-day public comment period and an in-person only public hearing on March 16 at 2 pm at DEQ headquarters in Richmond.
What’s happening now? The administration has publicized its proposed regulatory action as the next step in attempting to unlawfully remove Virginia from RGGI. Virginia law requires the DEQ to hold a 60-day window for the public to comment on the governor’s proposal.What can YOU do? Submit a comment opposing Virginia’s withdrawal from RGGI. Help us show there is
broad public support for the program!
When does the comment period end? The last day to submit your comment is March 31. Tips for writing your comment are below.
What should you say in your comment? It’s up to you! Here are a few ideas, but please do not copy and paste. Make your comment your own!
Oppose the governor’s attempt to remove Virginia from RGGI. Explain that you want Virginia to maintain its participation in this important climate program!
The governor’s intended action is unlawful. Highlight that the 2020 law mandates that Virginia participate in RGGI.[i] The administration can’t just ignore the laws it disagrees with.[ii]
RGGI works. Emphasize that the data are clear: RGGI reduces emissions. Even this administration admitted as much in a recent report, concluding that RGGI “has a long track record of emission reductions since the beginning of the program.” [iii] Since joining RGGI, Virginia’s power plant emissions have consistently decreased—by 12.5% between 2020 and 2021 and by nearly 8% between 2021 and 2022. Yet in the decade prior to RGGI, Virginia’s emissions were “fairly constant”. [iv]
Virginia needs RGGI. Explain that without RGGI, Virginia’s emissions have not declined and Virginia will not be able to achieve carbon-free power by 2050 as set forth in the Virginia Clean Economy Act.[v]
RGGI improves public health. Point out that decreased air pollution means fewer asthma attacks, fewer premature births, and fewer missed days of school and work. Participating states have realized $5.7 billion in public health benefits thanks to RGGI.[vi]
RGGI is helping Virginians right now. Explain that Virginia’s participation in RGGI generates funds that are:
Lowering energy bills for low-income households while creating good, local jobs for roofers, electricians, and HVAC professionals; and
Providing dedicated funding to localities to plan for and prevent recurrent flooding.
There is a massive need for RGGI funding. Flooding damages, for example, will cost the state $79.1 billion if left unchecked.[vii]
These RGGI funds could provide energy efficiency upgrades. Upgrades to up to 130,000 homes could be possible in the high-revenue scenario, leading to over 590,000 MWh in annual electricity reductions and $89 million in annual customer bill savings. This means an average of $676 in annual energy savings per household.
The expenditure of these RGGI energy efficiency funds would have a statewide economic impact. Over the course of the decade (2021-2030), the impact would be between $2.03 billion and $2.67 billion , including up to $1.75 billion in Value Added. It would also create and sustain up to 2,115 new jobs.
Here is a great resource explaining what’s happening with RGGI: https://wetlandswatch.org/community-flood-preparedness-fund
[i] Gregory S. Schneider, Democrats accuse Youngkin of sidestepping state law on environmental plan, Washington Post (Sept. 9, 2022), https://www.washingtonpost.com/dc-md-va/2022/09/09/virginia-youngkin-rggi-democrats-greenhouse/.
[ii] Patrick Wilson, The mystery of the secret Virginia air board document, Richmond Times-Dispatch (May 13, 2022), https://richmond.com/news/state-and-regional/govt-and-politics/the-mystery-of-the-secret-virginia-air-board-document/article_4bc77dff-7562-53c8-a65b-eabb1af3c34d.html.
[iii] Virginia Carbon Trading Rule and Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) Participation, Costs and Benefits, DEQ (Mar. 11, 2022), https://www.deq.virginia.gov/home/showpublisheddocument/13813/ 637829669069026180 at 13.
[iv] EPA’s Clean Markets Air Program Data, https://campd.epa.gov/data/custom-data-download
[v] Virginia Carbon Trading Rule and Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) Participation, Costs and Benefits, DEQ (Mar. 11, 2022), https://www.deq.virginia.gov/home/showpublisheddocument/13813/ 637829669069026180 at 13-14.
[vi] Acadia Ctr., The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative: Ten Years in Review (Sept. 17, 2019), https://acadiacenter.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/Acadia-Center_RGGI_10-Years-in-Review_2019-09-17.pdf.
[vii] Kaicey Baylor, ODU researchers release new flooding costs report for Virginia, 13 News Now (Sept. 15, 2022), https://www.13newsnow.com/article/money/economy/odu-researchers-new-flooding-costs-report/291-059df778-b823-42c3-bf20-72b73f7ffb45.