On May 2, Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam signed a state budget that impedes the state’s ability to take part in a carbon “cap and trade” program. The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative sets independent regulations that limit emissions from fossil fuel-fired power plants in nine participating states.
Although the State Air Pollution Control Board voted in April to join the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, Virginia Republicans inserted language in the budget that blocks the state’s participation in the program. Environmental groups urged the governor to utilize a line-item veto to remove the text before signing the budget, but he did not, reportedly out of concern that he did not have the legal authority to do so.
Gov. Northam called the provisions “disappointing and out-of-touch” in a news release, and vetoed a bill earlier this year that would have blocked the state from entering the initiative.
“This was a disastrous and cowardly retreat by Northam,” Walton Shepherd with the nonprofit Natural Resources Defense Council told The Washington Post.