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Virginia Activists: Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative Essential

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Thursday, June 30, 2022   

As Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin pushes forward on plans to withdraw the Commonwealth from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), environmental activists are raising concerns over the plan.

The multistate compact aims to reduce greenhouse-gas pollution through carbon allowances and capping carbon dioxide emissions. It also funds Virginia's Community Flood Preparedness Fund, a program supporting strategies to mitigate and prevent flooding.

Andrea McGimsey, executive director of Faith Alliance for Climate Solutions, said pulling out of RGGI would end the initiative.

"Our rainfall is just getting a lot harder, we're seeing these deluges like we've never seen before, and the science backs that up," McGimsey pointed out. "Our communities are flooding more and more, and we need to prepare for that, because we know it's going to get worse."

A report commissioned by the governor found participation in the program will drive up energy bills for Virginia residents by about $2.39 cents per month, and more than $1,500 per month for industrial customers. The report's authors also contended the project has not borne out its intended benefits.

Annette Osso, managing director for Resilient Virginia, countered it is because the program is relatively new. Virginia completed its enrollment in RGGI in January 2021, and the Flood Preparedness Fund has only completed three grant rounds so far.

"You're either going to pay for it later, after a flood, or you're going to spend some money up front now to put in the mitigation," Osso contended.

One path the governor could take to back out of RGGI involves Virginia's seven-member Air Pollution Control Board.

Zander Pellegrino, northern Virginia organizer for the Chesapeake Climate Action Network, said Youngkin has been filling the board with his appointees, a process which will conclude tomorrow.

"He's going against the will of the General Assembly," Pellegrino emphasized. "There were numerous attack bills that were introduced this past legislative session that tried to do exactly this, that tried to repeal RGGI. He lost. They were voted down."

The Chesapeake Climate Action Network is organizing a protest outside the state Capitol building tomorrow to protest Youngkin's efforts to pull out of RGGI. At noon, demonstrators will march backward around the building to symbolize the direction they say Youngkin is taking the Commonwealth.

Support for this reporting was provided by The Pew Charitable Trusts.


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