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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10/26/22  1:07 pm
Commenter: Jay Ford, Chesapeake Bay Foundation

RGGI helps meet Virginia's Climate and Water Quality Goals

Please accept the following comments on behalf of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation (“CBF”) on the Notice of Intended Regulatory Action (“NOIRA”) from the Department of Environmental Quality (“DEQ”) entitled “Repeal CO2 Budget Trading Program as required by Executive Order 9 .” CBF strongly urges the Commonwealth to remain in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (“RGGI”) given the multitude of benefits to Virginia’s citizens.


CBF is a nonprofit organization dedicated to saving the Chesapeake Bay with more than 91,000 members in Virginia. CBF carries out its mission through restoration, advocacy, education, and litigation from offices in Richmond, Virginia Beach, and other locations in the Bay watershed. It conducts restoration activities along numerous Bay tributaries from the Lynnhaven River to the Shenandoah River, and it operates on-the-water student education programs from its island centers in the Chesapeake Bay and through boat-centered programs on rivers throughout the Commonwealth.


RGGI has a demonstrated track record of reducing carbon emissions while funding key climate mitigation needs for the Commonwealth. Before our participation in the RGGI program, Virginia had no funding to address the significant and costly impacts of flooding across the Commonwealth and our energy efficiency programs were substantially underfunded. The cap-and-trade approach of RGGI means Virginia will continually draw down carbon emissions as it moves towards the net zero goals laid out in the Virginia Clean Economy Act (“VCEA”). RGGI provides accountability that the Commonwealth is taking the necessary steps to meet VCEA objectives while providing the resources to ensure our threatened communities are prepared to handle climate change impacts in the years to come.


We know that cleaning up the Chesapeake Bay is a priority for this Administration and so we wanted to highlight the importance of RGGI to restoring our bay.


Air Pollution is Water Pollution


Reducing emissions from fossil fuel production will improve air quality but those same reductions also help improve Virginia’s water quality. According to the Chesapeake Bay Program, scientists estimate that over one-third of the nitrogen that pollutes the bay comes from airborne sources. Continuing to reduce Nitrogen Oxide (“NOx”) emissions from the burning of coal and gas is a key component of the roadmap to a restored Chesapeake Bay. RGGI has a demonstrated record of reducing emissions leading to cleaner air and waters.


Climate Change Impacts are making it harder to meet Bay Restoration Goals


Climate change impacts such as sea level rise and increased rainfall intensity are already impacting the daily lives of Virginians, but these rising waters are also increasing nutrient and sediment loads to the Chesapeake Bay. Additionally, increases in water temperature are reducing the Bay’s ability to hold dissolved oxygen. Virginia’s Phase III Watershed Implementation Plan estimates 9 million pounds in additional nitrogen reductions will be needed throughout the watershed to keep pace with climate impacts through 2025. As we look past 2025, sea level rise and rainfall intensity will continue to increase, bringing additional pollution loads into our waters. Virginia must do its part to reduce global emissions and the RGGI cap and trade approach ensures our numbers will continue to decline in the years ahead.


RGGI Funds Benefit Our Communities and Our Waters


Funds from RGGI are already helping communities across the entire state respond to climate impacts through the Community Flood Preparedness Fund (CFPF). The CFPF is the only source of state funding for resilience planning and project implementation, with 100% of those funds coming from RGGI auctions.


RGGI has provided more than $200 million dollars to the CFPF since Virginia began receiving auction proceeds in 2021. As of today, nearly $46 million has been awarded to more than 40 localities, from Buchanan County in Southwest Virginia to Petersburg, Virginia Beach, and the Eastern Shore.


CFPF funds capacity-building initiatives that most federal grant programs do not, providing necessary planning resources that allow localities to pursue larger projects. Grants from the CFPF can also be used as a local match for federal grant programs, making Virginia applicants more competitive for national programs. Without a reliable, adequate, and long-term funding source like RGGI to keep money flowing in the CFPF, localities will be unable to complete necessary flood resilience planning, studies, and implementation they need to address current and future flood risk.


CFPF also prioritizes the implementation of nature-based solutions. Major living shoreline projects, that would have otherwise not been built, will now be cleaning Virginia waters while protecting the communities around them. Our participation in RGGI supports bay restoration by funding practices that protect and enhance our waters. Without RGGI revenues localities would be forced to turn to funding sources that do not prioritize nature-based design, or worse, forego adaptation work entirely. Many of the historic approaches to water quantity have negative impacts on water quality which leads to additional financial obligations for the state. RGGI proceeds to the CFPF have an excellent return on investment to the Commonwealth by prioritizing both safe communities and clean water.


Additionally, CFPF saves Virginia money on disaster response. The goal in building resilient communities is to avoid the catastrophic outcomes and costs in the aftermath of a flood disaster.  A recent study from Old Dominion University estimated that sea level rise could cost the Commonwealth $79 billion by the end of the century without significant intervention to assist localities. This study was limited to coastal communities but, as we have all seen in Buchanan and elsewhere, climate impacts are not limited to the shoreline. RGGI proceeds are benefitting Virginia taxpayers by addressing the pressing needs of today and mitigating the potential for crushing costs in the future.



Finally, the Clean Energy and Community Flood Preparedness Act (§ 10.1-1330) includes a strong directive for Virginia to participate in RGGI. We are concerned that any regulatory effort to remove Virginia from the program without clear legislative approval would be in contravention of the legislation, causing confusion, risking litigation, and undermining the deference otherwise due to DEQ.  


By reducing our emissions and helping communities implement nature-based resilience projects, RGGI is also protecting and enhancing our Chesapeake Bay. We urge Virginia to remain in the RGGI program and thank you for taking the time to consider our comments. Please feel free to reach out with any questions you may have.





Jay Ford,

Virginia Policy and Grassroots Advisor


CommentID: 198873