As a citizen of the Commonwealth of Virginia, I hereby petition the Department of Environmental Quality’s Air Pollution Control Board to simultaneously promulgate both an emergency rulemaking and a formal rulemaking to limit and reduce total carbon dioxide pollution in the Commonwealth by 30% by 2030, from its largest source, electric generating units.
The Air Pollution Control Board has clear legal authority to limit and reduce carbon pollution and other greenhouse gases (GHG), by powers vested by the Virginia Code (§§ 10.1-1300-1308).
Specifically, Virginia law provides that the Air Board \"shall have the power to promulgate regulations, including emergency regulations, abating, controlling and prohibiting air pollution throughout or in any part of the Commonwealth . . .” (§ 10.1-1308(A)).
Virginia law clearly encompasses carbon dioxide in its legal definition of air pollution: \"Air pollution means the presence in the outdoor atmosphere of one or more substances which are or may be harmful or injurious to human health, welfare or safety, to animal or plant life, or to property, or which unreasonably interfere with the enjoyment by the people of life or property” (§ 10.1-1300).
Moreover, the Air Board has already identified carbon dioxide and other GHGs as a category of emissions that shall be \"subject to regulation” (9 VAC 5-85-30(C)).
Most importantly, limiting and reducing carbon pollution would achieve the Board’s charge to prevent harm to \"public health, safety or welfare; the health of animal or plant life; [and] property, whether . . . recreational, commercial, industrial, [or] agricultural” (9 VAC 10 Chapter 10).
As a nurse, I am working in the public health sphere and believe the Air Board should limit and reduce carbon pollution to protect human and economic health, because:
- Carbon pollution is an immediate threat to human health and the economy: sea level rise makes Virginia’s coast one of the most imperiled places in the nation. As sea levels continue to rise, storm surges become higher as well, making most of the Hampton Roads region vulnerable to hurricane flooding. Without significant infrastructure investment, Tangier Island may be uninhabitable by the end of the century. Inland areas will see worsened flooding as well, due to heavy storm precipitation, which increased 27% between 1958 and 2012 across the Southeast. Henry Paulson’s Risky Business Institute estimates there will be $17.5 billion in additional sea-level rise damage and storm damage in Virginia by 2030. We have a duty to exhibit moral leadership.
- Warmer temperatures also increase ozone levels, aggravating lung diseases such as asthma, including in Richmond, which already suffers some of the worst asthma rates in America. This issue significantly and disproportionately impacts the youth of Virginia, both in productivity and in quality of life.
- Carbon pollution immediately threatens plant and animal life. Climate change will likely reduce the productivity of livestock, which comprise the bulk of Virginia’s farm commodities. Hotter summers will likely reduce corn yields, one of Virginia’s largest crop commodities. In addition, the threat of emerging zoonotic diseases due to climate changes not only threatens livestock, but human health. Veterinary, environmental and human health are all inextricably linked.
- Injury to property, both public and private, is already occurring today: the Norfolk Naval Base is impacted in a variety of ways, including impaired electricity availability, transportation inaccessibility, and piers that must be raised at a cost of $60 million each. Weakened armed forces bases poses a great risk to national security.
- In addition to concerns of public health and safety, climate change wreaks havoc on cross-sector stakeholders caused by displacement, transportation and utility interruptions, and increases in disease incidence related to flooding conditions and disrupted housing.
- The cost of prevention, whether measured in dollars or lives impacted, is so much less than that of attempting to recover after tragedy.
The Air Board can cost effectively limit and reduce carbon pollution by 30% from 2015 levels by 2030 because:
- Virginia already reduced carbon emissions by a similar amount between 2000 and 2015, while the state economy continued to grow.
- 30% by 2030 would be similar to the amount required in Virginia by the U.S. EPA’s Clean Power Plan, which underwent significant economic analysis, and which Governor McAuliffe already supports.
- Doing so would benefit the economy, because clean energy resources like solar, wind, and energy efficiency are now as affordable as, or more affordable than, conventional carbon-based energy resources.
For the above-stated legal, economic, and human health and safety reasons, I hereby petition the Air Pollution Control Board to initiate an emergency and formal rulemaking.
The State Air Pollution Control Board, based on discussion and action at its March 16, 2017, meeting and as required by Virginia law, is submitting notice of the petition for publication in the Virginia Register of Regulations on April 17, 2017, and announcing a public comment period. The public comment period begins on April 17, 2017, and closes on July 17, 2017.
Following receipt of comments on the petition, the Board will consider whether to grant or deny the petition for rulemaking. Board consideration will occur at a meeting of the Board. Board book material on the matter will be available approximately 3 weeks in advance of the meeting.
|Agency Decision Summary
In light of Executive Directive 11 and the ongoing rulemaking associated with that directive, the Board, at its meeting on September 21, 2017 approved the staff's recommendation to deny the petitioner's request to initiate a rulemaking. The Board considered the material provided in the Board book, which included a summary of comments received on the petition and the draft responses to the comments in addition to the following basis of the staff's recommendation:
Governor McAuliffe issued Executive Order 57 (EO 57) on June 28, 2016. Under EO 57, he directed the Secretary of Natural Resources to convene a work group to study and recommend methods to reduce CO2 emissions from electric power facilities and grow the clean energy economy within existing state authority. The group consisted of the Secretary of Natural Resources, the Secretary of Commerce and Trade, the Director of DEQ, the Director of the Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy, and the Deputy Attorney General for Commerce, Environment, and Technology.
The group facilitated extensive stakeholder engagement over the last year, including 6 monthly meetings that began on August 31, 2016 and ended on February 28, 2017. Each public meeting lasted between two and three hours, and the meetings consisted of presentations from members of the public. The presentations were voluntary, and all members of the public were invited to send suggested topics and present information to the Secretary of Natural Resources' office. In total, the Work Group received over 40 presentations. In addition to the public meetings, the group also facilitated a 3-month public comment period from February 1 to April 30, 2017. In total, the group received over 8,000 written comments.
The Work Group compiled its recommendations and submitted a final report to the Governor on May 12, 2017. The first recommendation of the "Report and Final Recommendations to the Governor" was that the Governor consider taking action via a regulatory process to establish a "trading-ready" carbon emissions reduction program for fossil fuel-fired electric generating facilities that will enable participation in a broader, multi-state carbon market.
Subsequently, Governor McAuliffe issued Executive Directive 11 (ED 11), "Reducing Carbon Dioxide Emissions from the Electric Power Sector and Growing Virginia's Clean Energy Economy" on May 16, 2017. ED 11 directs the Director of DEQ, in coordination with the Secretary of Natural Resources, to take the following actions in accordance with the provisions and requirements of Virginia Code § 10.1-1300 et seq., and Virginia Code § 2.2-4000, et seq.:
1. Develop a proposed regulation for the State Air Pollution Control Board's consideration to abate, control, or limit CO2 from electric power facilities that:
a. Includes provisions to ensure that Virginia's regulation is "trading-ready" to allow for the use of market-based mechanisms and the trading of CO2 allowances through a multi-state trading program; and
b. Establishes abatement mechanisms providing for a corresponding level of stringency to limits on CO2 emissions imposed in other states with such limits.
2. By no later than December 31, 2017, present the proposed regulation to the State Air Pollution Control Board for consideration for approval for public comment in accordance with the Board's authority pursuant to Virginia Code § 10.1-1308.
In order to meet the Governor's directive in a manner that affords the public the maximum opportunity for participation, the department has initiated a regulatory development process in accordance with the Administrative Process Act (APA) that will meet the Governor's stated deadline of December 2017. As part of this process, DEQ established and convened a regulatory advisory panel (RAP) representing interests from a cross-section of stakeholders to solicit input and provide assistance to the department in the development of proposed regulations. Once the RAP has completed its work, and a proposal is available for public comment, a clearer picture of the best path forward will emerge and inform the details of any final decisions.