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Family farmers call for tougher CAFO regulations in Farm Bill; The Midwest and Northeast brace for record high temperature in heatwave; Financial-justice advocates criticize crypto regulation bill; Ohio advocates: New rules strengthen protections for sexual-assault victims.

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The RNC kicks off its election integrity effort, Democrats sound a warning bell about conservatives' Project 2025, and Republicans suggest funding cuts to jurisdictions with legal cases against Trump.

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As summer nears, America's newest and largest international dark sky sanctuary beckons, rural job growth is up, but full recovery remains elusive, rural Americans living in prison towns support a transition, while birth control is more readily available in rural areas.

VA General Assembly considers RGGI budget amendments

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Wednesday, April 17, 2024   

Virginia's General Assembly will consider budget amendments to reenter the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, known as RGGI.

Gov. Glenn Youngkin pulled the state out of RGGI at the end of 2023, and now experts said the holes in the budget left by RGGI funding going away are not being filled. Money from the program was used to fund climate mitigation work.

Jay Ford, Virginia policy manager for the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, said the state saw many benefits when it was part of RGGI.

"We were reducing fossil fuel emissions that were being created here in Virginia," Ford pointed out. "There were some clear reductions as a result of our participation. So, we're improving air quality and we are helping expedite that transition to a clean economy."

Virginia residents mostly favored staying in RGGI, but Youngkin has said the reason for pulling out was in his view, it was a "hidden tax" for ratepayers. Ford estimated homeowners paid around $2 a month from their electric bills for RGGI and argued the trade-offs were worth it.

Between 2021 and 2023, RGGI revenue generated around $828 million for Virginia. Ford thinks not rejoining the initiative could slow down Virginia's ability to reach the Clean Economy Act's climate goals, and warned other effects could be costly to communities.

"On the ground in communities around the state, if we don't get back into RGGI, there's a real potential that the work to prepare the Commonwealth, and prepare our communities for climate impacts, could grind to a halt," Ford contended.

Virginia used RGGI money to help towns and cities fund their climate resilience plans. The state used 25-million RGGI dollars to establish a Climate Resilience Fund. There have been 107 "billion-dollar disasters" since 1980 in Virginia, with long-term costs totaling between $20 billion and $50 billion.


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