Press Release

Virginia approves draft rule to cut carbon pollution from power plants

Contact:
Cat McCue, Appalachian Voices, 434-293-6373, cat@appvoices.org
Kelley Galownia, Virginia Conservation Network, 571-403-4625, Kelley@vcnva.org

RICHMOND – The State Air Pollution Control Board today unanimously approved the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ)’s proposed draft regulations under Executive Directive 11 to reduce carbon pollution from existing power plants. These draft regulations serve as a critical first step in addressing the threat of climate change and spurring investments in clean energy in Virginia.

Climate change is one of the most pressing issues of our time, especially when it comes to its devastating impacts on Virginia’s most vulnerable communities. Virginia’s electric generation sector accounts for approximately 30% of the state’s overall carbon emission. The administration of Governor Terry McAuliffe initiated a process in mid-2016 to establish a state-based regulation to reduce these emissions, starting with a stakeholder group and numerous public meetings for citizen input.

Appalachian Voices, along with partners Virginia Conservation Network, Sierra Club, League of Conservation Voters of Virginia and others, participated fully in the process, educating our base of members and supporters to encourage them to comment on the issue.

The state action to reduce carbon pollution is more important than ever as the Trump administration starts a repeal of the historic Clean Power Plan passed under the Obama administration to cut carbon across the U.s., and pulls the U.S. out of the global Paris Agreement — Thousands of mayors and governors from across the nation have expressed their continued commitment to the agreement through the We’re Still In network. Today’s vote to approve the proposed draft regulations under Executive Directive 11 demonstrates Virginia’s continued commitment to addressing the pressing issue of climate change.

Statements from organizations supporting the draft rule:

Peter Anderson, Appalachian Voices, Virginia Program Manager:
“The board’s action today is a promising step towards a clean energy economy that promotes the health and prosperity of Virginians by helping to address one of the biggest causes of climate change. We will be working hard to ensure the final rule significantly cuts carbon pollution and that all communities benefit equally from it.”

Kristie Smith, Policy & Campaigns Manager of Virginia Conservation Network:
“Today, members of the State Air Pollution Control Board were faced with a very important choice. While the Trump administration disregards the majority of Americans who believe both in climate change, as well as the policy required to address it, Virginia is moving forward.

The impacts of climate change are felt in Virginia every day, from rising seas impacting our coastal communities to drought stress affecting our agricultural sector. The Air Board chose to protect Virginia’s families and most vulnerable communities, to advance a thriving clean energy economy, and to elevate Virginia as a national and global leader.”

Lee Francis, Communications Manager, Virginia League of Conservation Voters:
“Since 2008, the RGGI states have been able to cut carbon pollution from power plants while growing their economies and lowering the cost of electricity for consumers. By linking with this market-based approach to cut carbon, Virginia is taking the bold step forward we need to safeguard public health and create new clean energy jobs while taking meaningful action to address the climate crisis. We applaud Governor McAuliffe for putting us on this path and look forward to working with Governor-elect Northam to see this effort through.”

Will Cleveland, Staff Attorney, Southern Environmental Law Center:
“With this vote, Virginia takes its place among global leaders on climate policy. Although Washington has failed us on this critical issue, Governor McAuliffe and his successor Governor-elect Northam are doing what they can to protect Virginians.”

Harrison Wallace, Virginia Policy Coordinator and Coastal Campaign Manager, Chesapeake Climate Action Network:
“Today, the Air Board took a tremendous step in right direction for Virginia’s climate future by capping our carbon emissions and investing in energy efficiency through the Clean Energy Virginia Initiative. This decision serves an acknowledgment of years of grassroots activism from Virginians on the frontlines of the climate crisis. However, our work is not done. The approval of DEQ’s draft regulations is the first of many steps in the regulatory process. We plan to keep organizing and pushing for the best final regulation possible in order to achieve our goal of a Commonwealth that is powered by 100% clean energy.”

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