Environmental Groups File Lawsuit to Keep VA in RGGI
Wednesday, August 30, 2023
Several environmental groups have filed a lawsuit to keep Virginia in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative.
In June, Virginia's Air Pollution Control Board voted to remove the state from the initiative, for which Gov. Glenn Youngkin and Republicans in the General Assembly have striven.
The lawsuit alleges the board did not have the authority to remove Virginia since lawmakers voted to put the state in the initiative in 2020. Activists rallied across the state on Monday to keep Virginia in.
Nate Benforado, senior attorney at the Southern Environmental Law Center, said legislation like the Virginia Clean Economy Act could fill some of the gaps withdrawal from the initiative would leave.
"The way I view the Virginia Clean Economy Act is it's more about incentivizing utility investments to decarbonize power production," Benforado asserted. "Incentivizing energy efficiency programs that allow customers to use less electricity, and do the exact same things they were doing before."
While the Clean Economy Act puts the state on the path to climate friendliness, Benforado noted the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative is the only program tied directly to carbon emissions. While the regulation has been repealed, all of Virginia's obligations under the agreement are still in place, for the time being. If the lawsuit does not keep the state in the program, the obligations will expire Dec. 31.
The state received mixed reaction from residents during a public comment period, though a majority wanted to remain in the initiative. Though the state set forth a series of strategic climate goals like reducing fossil fuels, Benforado noted the governor's energy plan goes against them.
"That stands in stark contrast to a program like RGGI," Benforado contended. "It stands in stark contrast to our clean energy statutory requirements. Our utilities, Dominion and Appalachian Power, are required to be carbon free by 2045 and 2050, respectively."
An Acadia Center report found initiative auctions generated more than $523 million for Virginia, since March 2021, a yearly average of around $262 million. The funds have supported state level flood resilience efforts and funding low-income energy efficiency programs.
get more stories like this via email
Voters from Arizona and across the West say a public official's position on conservation will be an important factor when deciding who to support in t…
A new online tool is helping community groups in Boston ensure all neighborhoods reap the benefits from urban tree canopies. The Tree Equity Score …
Farming trend researchers are poring over new federal data that only come around every five years. The latest information helps some organizations …
The risk first responders face is getting renewed focus following the fatal shooting of two police officers and a paramedic in Minnesota. Amid …
West Virginia House delegates passed a bill this week that would allow raw milk products from farmers to be sold directly to consumers. Maria Moles…
Health and Wellness
Health plan premiums and deductibles have risen sharply in recent years - so the state Office of Health Care Affordability is proposing to limit growt…
Health and Wellness
New York disability rights advocates are working to break barriers in numerous legislative areas, including those in transportation, housing…
Kentucky saw a 48% reduction in child victims of maltreatment from 2018 to 2022, according to the latest federal data. However, child abuse and …