|Action||Repeal CO 2 Budget Trading Program as required by Executive Order 9 (Revision A22)|
|Comment Period||Ended on 3/31/2023|
The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) and Virginia's participation in RGGI was approved by the General Assembly, representatives of the people of Virginia, in 2020. Given that participation in RGGI was mandated by the law passed in 2020, the current administration can't just ignore laws it doesn't like or disagrees with - using a regulatory process is not legal and not acceptable as a way to try to get around a law that was duly passed and implemented.
RGGI is extremely valuable for Virginia, for Virginians, for the region, and it is a highly effective, beneficial, and critical cooperative effort by 11 states to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Virginia must stay in RGGI as a key participant. Since RGGI began, it has reduced emissions by 50% in the participating states - much more than the rest of the country - making it an essential part of Virginia (and the region and nation's) work to address the Climate Crisis that we are in. As a Virginian with chronic asthma and a secondary lung condition, air pollution, which is primarily driven by fossil fuel emissions, is a major concern for me, and high pollution days directly affect my health, the health of others with chronic lung and heart disease, and the health and well-being of all Virginians. Reducing emissions is not only critical to address the climate crisis, it will reduce air pollution in our communities as well. Health benefits from reduction in air pollution save money due to fewer emergency visits for asthma attacks, fewer premature births, and fewer missed days of school and work due to illness.
Prior to involvement in RGGI, Virginia's emissions were relatively constant, contrary to the significant reductions we've seen since joining RGGI. Without RGGI, Virginia’s emissions previously have not declined and likely will not if we stop our involvement, meaning that RGGI is a key tool for Virginia to achieve carbon-free power by 2050 as set forth in the Virginia Clean Economy Act.
RGGI is also a tool that has already and will continue to help Virginians who seeing devastating effects from climate disasters, such as increased flooding, droughts, damaging storms, sea level rise, and more. RGGI is not only a strong, effective tool to reduce emissions, RGGI has also raised $6 billion for Virginians. In Virginia, funds from RGGI have already brought in $590 million for two major programs: (1) the Housing Innovations in Energy Efficiency program (HIEE) an important program that makes energy efficiency upgrades to new and existing residential buildings to reduce energy bills for low-income Virginians; and (2) funding for the Virginia Community Flood Preparedness Fund Grant (CFPF) to provide support for regions and localities across Virginia to reduce the impacts of flooding.
I urge you to stop this unlawful attempt to remove Virginia from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative. The Virginia public widely supports RGGI and the General Assembly passed legislation that directed Virginia to join RGGI in 2020, which was based on long and careful consideration.
Keep Virginia, and our air, beautiful, and keep us in RGGI for the health, climate, and community benefits we continue to see from this innovative and essential initiative!