In 2021 Gov. Glenn Youngkin campaigned on a promise to get Virginia out of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative — a cooperative effort among 12 states to cap and reduce carbon emissions while investing in clean energy, energy efficiency and flood protection efforts.
Youngkin has asked the Virginia Air Pollution Control Board to take up an emergency resolution during its late August meeting to pull Virginia out of the initiative — though opponents contend it would take an act of the General Assembly, since a state law brought Virginia into RGGI.
Under RGGI, large power producers have to buy allowances at auction for every ton of carbon they emit. By design, the number of available allowances drops over time. Each state spends money from the auction in different ways, with at least 16% of these investments dedicated to helping low-income households.
Since joining RGGI in 2021, Virginia has brought in more than $300 million from these auctions, investing in energy efficiency projects for low-income communities and flood protection projects across the commonwealth.
A study of RGGI’s effectiveness over its first 10 years found that participating states cut their carbon emissions in the power sector by nearly half while lowering electricity costs and growing their economies.
RGGI’s Virginia supporters, which include Appalachian Voices, the publisher of The Appalachian Voice, are working to ensure the state continues this partnership. — By Dan Radmacher