|Action||Repeal CO 2 Budget Trading Program as required by Executive Order 9 (Revision A22)|
|Comment Period||Ended on 8/30/2023|
As a grandfather of four young Virginians, and a member of Third Act Virginia—a statewide group of elder citizens deeply concerned about the climate emergency—I implore you once again to reject the Governor's illegal maneuvering to pull Virginia out of RGGI.
We know that Cap & Trade programs benefit the environment and the economy. California began its cap-and-trade program in 2013. It aimed to reduce GHG emissions to 1990 levels by 2020. They met that goal in 2016. Since RGGI began in 2009, states have: reduced carbon emissions by 50%, realized $5.7 billion in health benefits in first 5 years, created more than 45,000 jobs, and added $4.3 billion in economic value to the region. Consumers have already saved $773 million in energy costs. And energy prices have fallen more than 4% in the region, compared with an increase of 6.2% in non-RGGI states.
Even before the recently passed Inflation Reduction Act, RGGI has opened up tens of thousands of green energy jobs, resulting in four times as many Virginians working in solar than in coal. Last year alone, RGGI generated $228 million to protect coastal Virginia homes and businesses from sea-level rise. RGGI & VCEA provide the decarbonizing framework for the newly passed IRA, with its powerful incentives for transitioning to energy efficiency, solar and offshore wind.
Combined, RGGI, VCEA and IRA provide clean, well-paying jobs, benefitting those communities transitioning from fossil fuels, such as former coal workers in Southwest Virginia. They also: accelerate the shift to clean energy, energy storage, energy efficiency, building electrification and electric vehicles; repurpose landfills as sites for solar farms; accelerate energy storage; and increase energy efficiency for low-income households.
In Virginia, major businesses submitted letters in support of RGGI and RGGI revenues are far exceeding initial projections. As of December 2022, Virginia has netted over $452 Million for flood protection and low-income energy efficiency programs.
Virginia is finally transitioning and trying to do so justly! Leaning into the transition will allow the commonwealth to reap huge rewards in the form of economic development, job growth, cleaner air and lower energy bills.
Why is the Governor doing everything he can to pull Virginia out of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative? His stance is wrong on ethical, ecological, and economic levels. Energy markets have changed dramatically in Virginia. Even Dominion Energy has confirmed that clean energy was becoming cheaper than fossil fuels and would probably stay that way forever.
It’s more than just bad business, of course. It’s socially unconscionable and ecologically suicidal. Today Richmond is the third highest asthma rate in the country. In a few short decades, an additional 649 square miles of land in Hampton Roads and the homes of 110,000 people, will succumb to sea level rise. Summer heat is becoming increasingly dangerous especially for student athletes, the elderly and outdoor workers. Warmer winters and earlier springs have resulted in a 4 fold increase in Lyme Disease in Virginia since 2006. A six year old child today, compared to a six year old in 1960, will experience:
Please follow the science and protect RGGI!
Bill Muth, PhD
Third Act Virginia