Science News

Virginia Governor Faces Lawsuits from Environmental Groups Over Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative

A Virginia-based law firm has filed a legal action against Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s administration for withdrawing from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI).

The Southern Environmental Law Center (SELC) filed a petition on behalf of the Association of Energy Conservation Professionals, Virginia Interfaith Power and Light, Appalachian Voices, and Faith Alliance for Climate Solutions in Fairfax Circuit Court challenging the Youngkin administration for withdrawing Virginia from the RGGI.

The petition argues that the state Air Pollution Control Board and the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality do not have the authority to end the state’s participation in the carbon trading program.

Related Stories

Youngkin Puts Virginia Schools on Notice for Refusing to Follow New Transgender Rules
Biden Admin Announces $1.2 Billion for Carbon Capture Projects

The groups further argue that Virginians will lose money afforded to them by the RGGI that currently allow them to access disaster relief funds for home repairs.

“The weatherization and flood preparedness funds created due to our participation in RGGI were sound and practical solutions to stabilize Virginia’s economy in the face of rising energy costs, sea levels, temperatures, and severe weather conditions. RGGI is working for Virginia, and Virginians know it,” said the Rev. Faith Harris, executive director at Virginia Interfaith Power & Light in a press statement.

RGGI a ‘Direct Tax’ on Households

In July, when Virginia first withdrew from RGGI, Mr. Youngkin praised Virginia’s Air Pollution Control Board decision.

“Today’s commonsense decision by the Air Board to repeal RGGI protects Virginians from the failed program that is not only a regressive tax on families and businesses across the Commonwealth but also does nothing to reduce pollution,” he said in a statement.

Mr. Youngkin said the RGGI fees that power companies paid to purchase carbon offsets were ultimately passed down to their customers as a tax.

“Funds collected by the sale of these offsets are spent on Virginia government programs. Participation in RGGI is in effect a direct tax on all households and businesses, and there is a zero incentive for power producers to reduce carbon emissions,” the governor’s office said.

Virginia joined RGGI in 2020 after the Democrat-controlled General Assembly authorized legislation to do so, including the Virginia Clean Economy Act and the Clean Energy and Community Flood Preparedness Act.

The General Assembly voted 53–45 in favor of participating in RGGI.

The program has been implemented in 12 eastern states and sets a regional limit on carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from power plants. Each power plant has to pay for each ton of CO2 it emits at quarterly auctions.

Proponents of RGGI say it helps to lower CO2, improve air quality, and sends half of the money from the auctions to benefit Virginia’s residents via the Community Flood Preparedness Fund, which supports resilience efforts in Virginia.

According to a 2023 RGGI report (pdf), in calendar year 2021, the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development invested $42.4 million in quarterly auction proceeds energy efficiency programs: $15.2 million for the Weatherization Deferral Repair Program and $27.2 million for the Affordable Special Needs Housing Program.

Typical repairs performed through weatherization repair program include roof replacements or repairs; heating, ventilating, and air conditioning (HVAC) system replacements or repairs; and structural repairs, often related to water damage.

Incorrect Procedure

SELC lawyers say if the Youngkin administration wanted to end RGGI, it should have gone through the Virginia Legislature instead of the Air Pollution Control Board.

“Throughout this process, the administration has brushed aside serious questions concerning their lack of authority to take this action, and ignored the thousands of Virginians who have steadfastly opposed this misguided process,” Nate Benforado, senior attorney for SELC, told the Virginia Mercury.

Youngkin appointed seven of the Air Pollution Control Board members who voted to end RGGI in Virginia, and if the decision is not reversed by the court, the reversal will take effect Dec. 30.

“It is critical that we continue our participation in RGGI, a proven climate solution,” Mr. Benforado said in a statement. “Virginians know that we need this program and that we have no time to waste. We will be doing everything we can—as quickly as we can—to enforce the law and maintain this successful program.”

The Epoch Times reached out to Mr. Youngkin’s office for comment.

Source link


I'm TruthUSA, the author behind TruthUSA News Hub located at With our One Story at a Time," my aim is to provide you with unbiased and comprehensive news coverage. I dive deep into the latest happenings in the US and global events, and bring you objective stories sourced from reputable sources. My goal is to keep you informed and enlightened, ensuring you have access to the truth. Stay tuned to TruthUSA News Hub to discover the reality behind the headlines and gain a well-rounded perspective on the world.

Leave a Reply