CCAN Statement: Governor Northam Fails to Veto Partisan Attack on Climate Action

Historic climate progress faces another partisan roadblock

“Climate will be on the ballot this November”

RICHMOND, VA — Today, Governor Northam announced that he will not veto language in the Virginia budget that will block Virginia from linking with the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI). His failure to act allows this attack on climate progress, which was passed solely on Republican party lines, to delay the most ambitious action on climate in the history of the south. The Carbon Rule would have led to a 30% reduction in carbon emissions from Virginia’s largest power plants and established important environmental justice provisions to help protect communities on the front lines of climate change.

Statement from Harrison Wallace, Virginia Director of the CCAN Action Fund:

“We are extremely disappointed in Governor Northam for not using his constitutional authority to veto partisan budget language that blocks Virginia from instituting an historic cap on carbon. This would have been the most ambitious action any southern state has taken on climate.

“While we believe that the Governor had the authority to stop this attack on climate progress, CCAN Action Fund is most disappointed in Republicans across the Commonwealth who supported this budget and put partisan talking points over the health and safety of Virginia’s most vulnerable citizens. We know that climate denial is not the majority opinion of Virginians and we believe that climate will be on the ballot in November.  

“Virginians are ready to say yes to RGGI. Over the course of this rulemaking process, more than 15,000 Virginians submitted comments in support of this rule. The rule enjoys such broad support because cutting carbon emissions is not just about combating climate change, it’s also an issue of public health. Current RGGI states have avoided negative health effects such as asthma attacks and premature adult deaths since joining the program.

“The data is clear: The longer we wait to join RGGI, the more lives we put at risk — for future generations and right now in our most vulnerable communities. While this party-line move — and Northam’s failure to stop it — is certainly a big and unnecessary obstruction to climate progress, CCAN Action Fund will work harder than ever to ensure passage of equitable legislation to formally join RGGI in the 2020 legislative session.”


For over four years, CCAN Action Fund and its partners have worked tirelessly to pass legislation to join the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI). After multiple partisan votes to reject climate action, Governor McAuliffe announced Executive Directive 11 in 2017, which would provide a pathway to link with the RGGI market and set a cap on carbon.  After two years and over 15,000 public comments, the Air Pollution Control Board voted to approve this new regulation in April 2019. See our fact sheet on joining RGGI here.

Harrison Wallace Chesapeake Climate Action Network, 804-305-1472,
Denise Robbins, Communications Director, 240-630-1889,


CCAN Action Fund is the advocacy arm of the Chesapeake Climate Action Network, the oldest and largest grassroots organization dedicated exclusively to raising awareness about the impacts and solutions associated with global warming in the Chesapeake Bay region. For 16 years, CCAN has been at the center of the fight for clean energy and wise climate policy in Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, D.C.