Virginia regulators vote to limit carbon emissions but face GOP roadblock.

May 2, 2019

Virginia regulators have voted to join a regional carbon cap-and-trade program, becoming the first Southern state to do so. The effort could lead to a 30 percent reduction in carbon emissions from the state’s largest power plants, according to an April 19th, 2019 Washington Post report.

But there’s a hitch. Republican lawmakers put language into the state budget that effectively prevents Virginia from participating.  Gov. Ralph Northam (D) could veto the language but must do so by a May 3 deadline.

Several environmental groups, which have supported Northam on conservation issues but have clashed with him on energy policy, turned up the pressure on him to act.

The 5-to-2 vote by the State Air Pollution Control Board would put Virginia into the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, or RGGI, a cap-and-trade program among nine other states in the northeast, including Maryland. RGGI puts limits on carbon emissions from the biggest power generators and sets up the trading of allowances on a market. Emitters that come below the cap can sell allowances to those who exceed it.

Republicans in the General Assembly argued this year that the system amounts to a tax on businesses. Del. Charles D. Poindexter (R-Franklin) sponsored a bill that prohibited the governor from entering into the regional program and gave authority for any such decision to the General Assembly.

What this means to you
Virginia regulators have voted to join a regional carbon cap-and-trade program, becoming the first Southern state to do so. But Republican lawmakers put language into the state budget that effectively prevents Virginia from participating. Gov. Ralph Northam (D) could veto the language but must do so by a May 3 deadline.

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