|Action||Repeal CO 2 Budget Trading Program as required by Executive Order 9 (Revision A22)|
|Comment Period||Ended on 3/31/2023|
March 31, 2023
Appalachian Voices comments on proposed Repeal CO2 Budget Trading Program as required by Executive Order 9 (Revision A22)
Appalachian Voices, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization with offices in Charlottesville and Norton, VA, opposes the proposed repeal of the carbon budget trading program as described by Executive Order 9.
First, Virginia’s participation in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) carbon trading system is required by statute. In 2020 the General Assembly passed the Clean Energy and Community Flood Preparedness Act. In that Act the General Assembly directed DEQ to update an existing carbon trading regulation such that, among other things, DEQ would sell carbon allowances directly into RGGI, rather than using the consignment auction set out in the existing regulation.
Using the word “shall,” Va. Code § 10.1-1330 A directs the Air Board to incorporate provisions of the Act into the carbon trading regulation that was published in the Virginia Register in 2019. In a letter opinion denying the Virginia Manufacturer’s Association’s petition for review of DEQ’s subsequent regulatory action carrying out this directive, the Circuit Court for the City of Richmond found that DEQ “did what the General Assembly required it to do.”
The agency, even at the direction of the Governor, cannot reverse by new regulation that which the General Assembly required it to do.
It’s worth noting that the Clean Energy and Community Flood Preparedness Act has proven to be a durable policy. Passed in 2020, bills have been filed in each successive legislative session to undermine or repeal the Act. These bills have all failed, despite an intervening election in 2021 that created a different makeup of the General Assembly.
Second, participation in RGGI is working as designed. According to U.S. EPA data, carbon emissions from Virginia’s power sector have decreased 16.8% since Virginia entered the program. Conversely, power sector emissions were fairly level during the decade prior to Virginia’s participation in RGGI.
Third, auction revenues are helping real Virginians lower their bills through energy efficiency upgrades. According to expert analysis, if Virginia continues participation in RGGI through 2030, 130,000 homes could receive efficiency upgrades, saving an average of $676 per household each year.
Finally, the costs of fossil fuels to power our electric generating facilities have approximately doubled over the past two years. RGGI is not only good for the climate and for the air we breathe, it also signals to the power sector that cleaner, more cost-effective forms of electricity are favored by both electricity markets and policy makers carrying out the will of the Virginia electorate.
Appalachian Voices opposes the proposed regulatory action and respectfully requests that the State Air Pollution Control Board reject the proposal. Thank you for your consideration.
Virginia Policy Director
812 E. High Street
Charlottesville, VA 22902