ICYMI: Glenn Youngkin Will Pull Out of RGGI, Ignoring Impact of Climate Change on the Commonwealth

Hampton Roads, Virginia—Glenn Youngkin formally announced that he will ignore the impact climate change is having on the Commonwealth, and instead will use executive action to end Virginia’s participation in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI). RGGI, which Virginia has been a part of since July 2020, is a cooperative agreement between nine states from Maine to Maryland to limit polluting greenhouse gas emissions. The Greenhouse Gas Initiative worked to neutralize coastal flooding, increased severe weather, and air and water pollution caused by climate change.

As part of RGGI, Virginia was able to hold polluting utility monopolies accountable and force them to pay for their pollution. Those payments, which this year alone totaled $228 million, could then be used to invest in new green sources of energy and recover from the sometimes devastating impacts of climate change.

“By promising to end Virginia’s participation in RGGI, Governor-Elect Youngkin is proving that he has no understanding of how climate change is impacting our communities. With RGGI, we have the opportunity to hold utility monopolies accountable, invest in renewable energy, energy efficient homes, and protect our coast here in Virginia.” Vanessa Clinton, Press Secretary at Progress Virginia said. “Without it, we won’t be able to ensure a safe and healthy place for our families and future generations to live and thrive. Glenn Youngkin does not have a plan and is not prioritizing our community’s needs. He has no intention or means to hold these polluting utility monopolies accountable in the absence of RGGI, and therefore is putting our climate, our water, and our families’ health at risk.”

Youngkin wants Virginia Out of carbon-reduction initiative [Associated Press, Sarah Rankin] 

“Environmental attorneys and other advocates quickly shot back that Virginia’s participation, approved through legislation last year, could not be undone by the governor alone.”

“Virginia spent years moving toward participation in RGGI (pronounced “Reggie”). The initiative requires power plants to purchase an allowance to emit a certain amount of carbon, a greenhouse gas that contributes to global warming, which scientists say is already accelerating sea level rise and worsening extremes such as heat waves, droughts, floods and storms.”

“RGGI has brought in more than $220 million this year alone — money already being deployed across the Commonwealth to help communities deal with flooding and lower energy bills for Virginians who need it most,” Nate Benforado, a senior attorney with the Southern Environmental Law Center said in a statement. “This was bipartisan legislation that followed a multi-year regulatory process to create a comprehensive program that cannot be undone with a simple pen stroke.”

“Reversal of this law would be incredibly harmful to the health of Virginians, protection of our natural spaces, and preparation for a clean-energy economy,” Majority leader Dick Saslaw and Caucus Chair Mamie Locke said in a joint statement.”