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Virginia’s GOP governor-elect pledges to remove state from regional carbon market

Younkin’s comments came during a speech in Virginia Beach at the annual meeting of the Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce.

Governor-elect of Virginia, Glenn Youngkin in November 2021. — Source: Courtesy: Glenn Youngkin for Governor
Governor-elect of Virginia, Glenn Youngkin in November 2021. — Source: Courtesy: Glenn Youngkin for Governor

Republican Virginia Gov.-elect Glenn Youngkin is promising to use his executive powers to withdraw the commonwealth from a multistate carbon cap-and-trade program he claims has overburdened ratepayers and businesses.

Younkin’s comments came during a speech Wednesday in Virginia Beach at the annual meeting of the Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce, according to Reuters.

The governor-elect described the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) “as a regional market for carbon, but it is really a carbon tax that is fully passed on to ratepayers. It’s a bad deal for Virginians. It’s a bad deal for Virginia businesses.”

In March 2020, the Virginia legislature passed a bill to join the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), a market-based program to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from power plants in 11 U.S. Northeast and mid-Atlantic states. The program has brought in $228 million to Virginia to fund state programs on energy efficiency and flooding.

In August, the Virginia State Corporation Commission first approved a request by Dominion Energy, the state’s largest electric utility, to recover costs from customers for RGGI, as it’s called.

According to Dominion’s filings at the SCC, the impact on a typical residential customer bill effective Sept. 1 is an additional $2.39 a month. Adding other unrelated adjustments will result in an increase of $4.84 in a typical monthly residential Dominion customer bill starting December 1, reports the Richmond-Times Dispatch.

“Just this week Dominion Energy announced that they will seek to double the carbon surcharge that is being applied to ratepayers under the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative,” said Youngkin, who takes office on January 15.

The Virginia League of Conservation Voters, a proponent of the RGGI, questioned whether Youngkin has the power to remove Virginia from the program through executive action, while the Democratic Party of Virginia called Youngkin’s pledge “irresponsible and short-sighted.”

RGGI membership is also being debated in Pennsylvania. Governor Tom Wolf, a Democrat, supports his state joining the pact but there is an effort in the state legislature to block membership.

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Karen Graham is Digital Journal's Editor-at-Large for environmental news. Karen's view of what is happening in our world is colored by her love of history and how the past influences events taking place today. Her belief in man's part in the care of the planet and our environment has led her to focus on the need for action in dealing with climate change. It was said by Geoffrey C. Ward, "Journalism is merely history's first draft." Everyone who writes about what is happening today is indeed, writing a small part of our history.

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