CCAN Warns Positive Steps Could be Undone By Fracked-Gas Pipelines
RICHMOND, VA — On Monday, October 29, The State Air Pollution Control Board approved a re-proposed draft regulation to link Virginia to the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI). This process began in the spring of 2017 when Governor McAuliffe issued Executive Directive 11, which directed Virginia to cap emissions through a regional system. After a year of review and public comment, the rule was re-proposed with strong new language that tightened the proposed cap on carbon emissions from power plants, reducing it from 33 million tons down to 28 million tons, which would reduce these planet-warming emissions 30 percent by 2030. It also features new language that will addresses environmental justice concerns, and new language that will allow for further reductions after 2030. These changes will allow for a true reduction in carbon, a stronger RGGI market, and a just approach to reducing emissions.
Harrison Wallace, Virginia Director at CCAN Action Fund, stated in response:
“We applaud the Governor for taking the initiative to strengthen the cap in the Carbon Pollution Reduction Rule to 28 million tons. This is a positive step forward that will lead to real reductions of carbon emission in Virginia. With this re-proposed rule, Virginia will reduce carbon emissions from power plants in the state by 30 percent over the next decade, and continue reductions after 2030, which is exactly what we need. It will do so by linking Virginia to the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, a tried-and-true program that has helped several states lower carbon emissions in an efficient and cost-effective manner. We are also encouraged to see a new provision on environmental justice and we urge the Administration to build on that with actionable next steps in the near future.
“This re-proposed rule, alongside Governor Northam’s recent announcements to strengthen methane regulations and join the Transportation and Climate Initiative, show that the Governor is moving Virginia in the right direction on fossil fuels and climate policy. We can move even further in the direction of a just clean energy economy by passing legislation that will unlock millions of dollars in revenue from RGGI auctions, and we are excited to work with the Governor on that front as well.
“However, these recent actions contrast the fracked-gas pipelines that Governor Northam has allowed to proceed through the state, which will encourage more fracking at the source and could hinder the effectiveness of these actions.
“We hope Governor Northam will continue to build a clean energy economy in Virginia that will have no place for future pipelines that are bad for landowners, bad for consumers, and bad for our climate. This is a step in the right direction.”
RGGI is a cooperative effort, currently comprised of nine East Coast states from Maine to Maryland, that caps and reduces carbon emissions from power plants. Under RGGI, power plants in participating states purchase allowances for every ton of carbon pollution that they emit. RGGI states agree amongst themselves how many pollution allowances to offer for sale each year, thus setting a cap on emissions, and they gradually lower the cap each year. It’s a flexible, market-based system. Participating states set the carbon cap and then power plants decide how to stay below it. Revenue from the auction of pollution allowances goes back to the states to fund carbon reduction programs and other initiatives decided by each state.
Virginia’s participation in RGGI is projected to raise roughly $200 million per year through 2030 in auction allowances.