GHG Emissions - July 9, 2020
Virginia becomes southern-most state to join Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative
The Commonwealth of Virginia became the first southern state to join the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) on July 8, agreeing to the cap-and-trade program designed to reduce climate pollution from the power sector.
RGGI members include Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont and now Virginia. As a member of the initiative, the Commonwealth agreed to a cap on carbon dioxide emissions and to require power generators in Virginia to reduce pollution to meet the carbon or buy additional allowances through an auction administered by RGGI, Inc.
“As the southernmost state to join RGGI, Virginia is sending a powerful signal that our Commonwealth is committed to fighting climate change and securing a clean energy future,” Gov. Ralph Northam said in a statement. “This initiative provides a unique opportunity to meet the urgency of the environmental threats facing our planet, while positioning Virginia as a center of economic activity in the transition to renewable energy. Our Commonwealth is ready to lead the way in ensuring that the path to reducing carbon emissions is equitable and protects the health and safety of all Virginians.”
DEQ Director David Paylor signed the final Virginia Carbon Rule on June 25 that allowed Virginia to join RGGI and pursue full membership, which would go into effect on January 1, 2021. Additionally, Virginia implemented other legislation during the 2020 General Assembly session related to reducing the Commonwealth’s carbon footprint, including a bill that will allow Virginia to use proceeds generated from the auction for community flood preparedness, coastal resilience, and energy efficiency programs benefiting low-income Virginians.