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Virginia Regulatory Town Hall
Department of Environmental Quality
Air Pollution Control Board
Regulation for Emissions Trading [9 VAC 5 ‑ 140]
Action Reduce and Cap Carbon Dioxide from Fossil Fuel Fired Electric Power Generating Facilities (Rev. C17)
Stage Proposed
Comment Period Ends 3/6/2019
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3/6/19  10:50 pm
Commenter: Delegate Israel O’Quinn, 5th District

Administration Lacks Appropriate Authority to Join RGGI

I’m formally registering my opposition to the RGGI rule making process.  There is a great deal of disagreement over the policy decision of joining RGGI, and while I am in fact opposed, there is a larger and more pressing issue at stake. 

The Administration had HB1273 filed during the 2018 session, and the bill’s summary stated in part, “…The regulations are required to comply with the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative model rule…”  The bill came before the Commerce & Labor Subcommittee that I chair and during debate on this bill I directly asked Secretary Strickler if this bill was defeated, would the Administration proceed with joining RGGI regardless.  His answer was, “yes.”  After debate on the bill, HB1273 was defeated 6-4 in the subcommittee.  Meanwhile, the General Assembly passed HB1270, which was a bill explicitly prohibiting the Governor from joining RGGI.  That bill was subsequently vetoed by the Governor. 

During the 2019 session, the Administration made another run at RGGI via HB2735.  That bill summary also stated in part, “…The regulations are required to comply with the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative program…”  HB2735 came before the same Commerce & Labor Subcommittee and, after debate, was defeated by a vote of 6-3.  In similar fashion to 2018, the General Assembly once again passed a bill (HB 2611) explicitly prohibiting the Governor from joining RGGI.

It is clear that the Administration believes they need General Assembly approval to legitimately move forward with RGGI or they would not have had bills filed in successive sessions requesting such authority.  But it is also clear that absent that consent, they are willing to move forward without the appropriate authority and operate far outside the bounds of—and in direct opposition to—legislative intent.  The Administration has no authority to join RGGI or to promulgate regulations on the matter.