Virginia is forging ahead with a carbon cap and trade program, the first of its kind for the state. Regulators are now taking public comment and the final meeting is in Richmond Monday.
Virginia’s Department of Environmental Quality has already held public hearings in Abingdon, Roanoke, and Virginia Beach. The last public meeting will be held at the Bank of America building in Richmond Monday from 1:30 to 4:30
The process began last May when former Governor Terry McAuliffe announced he wanted Virginia to start trading carbon emissions on an existing market controlled by the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative. Member states include Massachusetts, Maryland and New York.
Will Cleveland of the Southern Environmental Law Center says southern states haven’t traditionally been ahead of the curve on climate issues.
“And yet we have a Governor of a southern state taking really bold steps to cut carbon pollution,” Cleveland says. “What Governor McAuliffe proposed was in fact more stringent and cut carbon pollution in a better way than the federal clean power plan would have.”
The former Governor’s plan is to reduce Virginia’s carbon emissions by 30-percent over the next 10 years.
The plan could face an uphill battle though. A majority of Virginia lawmakers are opposed, arguing the Governor doesn’t have the power to create a cap and trade program on his own.
This year the General Assembly passed a bill banning the executive branch from adopting a cap and trade program, or entering RGGI, without legislative approval.
A spokesman for Governor Northam says he’ll veto the measure.
The state is accepting public comment on the proposed regulations through April 9th. DEQ expects the final regulations to go before the state’s Air Board this summer, before heading to the Governor’s desk.