Virginia Regulatory Town Hall
Department of Environmental Quality
Air Pollution Control Board
Regulation for Emissions Trading [9 VAC 5 ‑ 140]
Action Repeal CO 2 Budget Trading Program as required by Executive Order 9 (Revision A22)
Comment Period Ended on 10/26/2022
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10/25/22  12:24 pm
Commenter: Andrew Payton, Climate Action Alliance of the Valley

Fight Air Pollution While Helping Virginians!

Members of the Air Pollution Control Board

C/o Michael Rolband, Director

Virginia Department of Environmental Quality

1111 East Main Street, Suite 1400

Richmond, VA 23218


The Climate Action Alliance of the Valley offers these comments in response to the Notice of Intended Regulatory Action (NOIRA) to Repeal CO 2 Budget Trading Program as required by Executive Order 9 (Revision A22).

We object to, and take issue with, the Governor’s Executive Order 9, “Protecting Ratepayers from the Rising Cost of Living Due to the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative" [requiring] “the department [of] Environmental Quality to] re-evaluate Virginia’s participation in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative [RGGI] and begin [the] regulatory processes to end it.” As we noted in our letter of August 25, 2022 to the Governor, in our view “the DEQ and the Air Pollution Control Board, cannot legally withdraw Virginia from RGGI. The 2022 General Assembly declined to repeal RGGI; therefore the law stands.”

As the Virginia Energy Efficiency Council (VAEEC) noted in its October 13 submission, RGGI is performing as intended and many low and middle income Virginians are benefiting from RGGI’s revenues. As VAEEC also pointed out, other funding sources could be found to replace RGGI funds, but finding those funds would be “a herculean task. In 2021, the RGGI auctions brought in millions of dollars more than every other energy efficiency program in the state – combined. Virginians can’t afford to have these programs disappear.” Even if other funding sources are identified, there will be a gap in the forward progress made to date and in all likelihood the new sources would not provide the added benefit of reducing Virginia’s carbon emissions. We concur with the VAEEC’s comments on this matter.


We provided two opinion pieces addressing our substantive concerns with the proposal for Virginia to withdraw from RGGI. Our January 26, 2022 piece argued that Virginia Should Remain In Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative; our March 25, 2022 open letter to Valley Legislators pointed out that there is no logical reason to withdraw Virginia from RGGI and, further, that the decision to do so must come from the legislature. We stand by our previous opinions and hereby incorporate them into these comments.


In addition, we emphasize that the 45% of RGGI auction proceeds that go to the statewide Community Flood Preparedness Fund (CFPF) is, and will remain, sorely needed. Indeed, the Governor has pointed out the need for community resiliency is real and urgent. RGGI is the sole source of revenue for the statewide CFPF, and this source represents the only dedicated state funding source for critical flood resilience planning and project implementation for localities, tribes, and soil and water conservation districts across Virginia.


It’s critical that Virginia’s regulators grasp the significance of the fact that the CFPF provides money for capacity-building efforts not usually funded through federal grants and that CFPF dollars can serve as a match for such programs. The need for long-term planning and action—and funding—for recurrent flooding inland and on the coast is real, ongoing, and increasing. There is no justification for pulling Virginia out of RGGI because critical funding that local governments need would disappear, be greatly reduced or be available episodically subject to annual and biennial decisions. The obvious result would mean disproportionate harm to under?resourced, small, rural cities, towns, and counties who cannot address flood risk on their own. This is no time to deprive the CFPF of the RGGI funds. Doing so would make a mockery of the Governor’s publicly expressed concerns for places like Buchanan County and certainly would greatly limit Virginia’s ability to assist its many vulnerable localities and their low-income residents when the worst happens.




Andrew Payton, Chair

Climate Action Alliance of the Valley


CommentID: 196386