Press Release

Advocates rallied statewide to protest move to withdraw Virginia from Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative

Events were held in Abingdon, Harrisonburg, Richmond, Roanoke and Woodbridge, with Virginia Beach rally to take place this evening at 6 p.m.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 31, 2022

CONTACT
Emily Piontek, (314) 562-2341 emily@appvoices.org
Jessica Sims, (804) 356-1228 jessica@appvoices.org

Richmond, VA — Starting at 9 a.m. today, communities in five cities across Virginia rallied to advocate for the commonwealth to remain in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, a multi-state greenhouse gas emissions reductions program also known as RGGI. Virginia’s decision in 2020 to enter the program has brought in more than $378 million of critical funding to communities, supporting low-income energy efficiency programs and flood resilience infrastructure statewide.

Appalachian Voices, CASA Virginia, Chesapeake Climate Action Network, Climate Action Alliance of the Valley, Faith Alliance for Climate Solutions, Virginia League of Conservation Voters, Third Act Virginia, Virginia Chapter of the Sierra Club and the Unitarian Universalist Church of Roanoke coordinated the day’s series of rallies, which were attended by almost 200 people. Community members gathered to protest Gov. Youngkin’s plan to withdraw Virginia from RGGI, an action announced by Secretary of Natural Resources Travis Voyles at the State Air Pollution Control Board meeting earlier today.

The governor intends to withdraw Virginia from RGGI by the end of 2023 — even though the program has generated significant investments in affordable, energy-efficient housing and flood prevention programs across the commonwealth.

A final rally to protest Youngkin’s plan will be held at 6 p.m. this evening at Mount Trashmore Park in Virginia Beach.

“Gov. Youngkin’s plan to withdraw Virginia from the program not only hurts frontline communities who are actively suffering from the effects of sea level rise, but also feeds climate-denial when we can afford it least,” said Deborah Kushner, Third Act Virginia. “Lives, livelihoods and communities will suffer ever more because of his political gamesmanship.”

“Business as usual is unacceptable,” said Bob Egbert, Unitarian Universalist Church of Roanoke. “The Climate Crisis is a life and death issue. When I was in the navy this would have been an ‘all hands on deck’” threat. For our children and grandchildren, Virginia needs all hands on deck, including our governor’s.”

“We are not surprised but we are enraged,” said Zander Pellegrino, Chesapeake Climate Action Network. “I spent all Friday morning with volunteers in Alexandria talking with small business employees and owners who deal with flooding day in and day out. Every single person had a story. Some businesses had poor reviews because their drivers couldn’t get to deliveries on time because of high water. The people we talked with would have directly benefited from RGGI funds. Now they are left underwater with only their own sandbags to protect them.”

“Gov. Youngkin’s continued attempts to undermine our state’s efforts to protect communities from flooding and to lower Virginians’ energy burden are simply unacceptable, and we will fight him at every turn,” said Lee Francis, Virginia League of Conservation Voters. “Today’s mobilization efforts show just how widely Virginians support climate action and just how seriously we take threats to vital programs that cut pollution and help secure a liveable future.”

“The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative helps boost Virginia’s economy and improve our communities by making polluters pay for the damage they cause, and invests in resilience projects and energy efficiency programs,” said Hunter Noffsinger, Sierra Club Virginia Chapter. “Virginians deserve access to these critical programs that help lower energy costs and protect our communities from the devastating effects of flooding.

“Gov. Youngkin wants to move us backwards on climate at a time when we’ve been dealing with real emergencies in central Appalachia, like the catastrophic floods in southwest Virginia we’ve experienced this summer,” said Emily Piontek, Appalachian Voices. ”By participating in RGGI, Virginia received critical funding to proactively respond to extreme weather events, and people all the way from southwest Virginia to the eastern shore showed up today because they understand that we can’t afford not to take climate action seriously.”

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Appalachian Voices is a leading nonprofit advocate for a healthy environment and just economy in the Appalachian region, and a driving force in America’s shift from fossil fuels to a clean energy future.

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