Virginia is threatening to leave the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative. However, Virginia has no plan on how to replace the critical funding that RGGI provides to low-income families to help lower their power bills and reduce their energy usage or for flooding resiliency. We are already seeing more frequent large-scale flooding events in Virginia and removing us from this program would in turn be abandoning Virginians. Not to mention this pollution reductions that are the foundation of the program. The citizens that are most impacted by the pollution that Virginia's fossil-fuel generating plants creates are in low-income communities.
Over the last 12 years, independent studies repeatedly show RGGI’s significant economic, jobs, and public health benefits, while helping cut carbon pollution from participating states’ power plants in half.
Since the RGGI program began in 2009, its benefits include:
Creating 45,000 job-years of work (a job-year equals one year’s worth of full-time employment for one person);
Growing the region’s economy by $4.3 billion (note that this figure is net of allowance costs);
Public health benefits of at least $5.7 billion—recent research has shown the program’s health benefits are even larger, including additional health benefits to children, such as reductions in childhood asthma, preterm births, and cases of low birth weight and autism spectrum disorder, as a result of particulate pollution reductions attributable to RGGI; and
Energy bill savings of $1.2 billion thus far, with $13 billion expected over the lifetime of RGGI-funded measures like energy efficiency improvements.
With all due respect, this administration needs to stop trying to reinvent the wheel when we already have a common sense place in plan to address pollution that creates funding streams that the state cannot fund to the same extent, if at all.