With Gov. Youngkin’s attempts to pull out of Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) and Dominion Energy’s increased energy bills, RGGI is under threat. Just as a refresher, RGGI is a cap and trade program for carbon dioxide emissions from the energy sector currently with nine participating Northeastern states and that Virginia has been a member of since 2020.
According to the Southern Environmental Law Center, RGGI proceeds “already brought in more than $378 million to the Commonwealth. In one fiscal year alone, RGGI funds lowered thousands of low-wealth families’ energy bills; awarded 49 grants to combat recurrent flooding; and funded the construction of more than 2,300 highly efficient affordable housing units.”
Yet, Governor Youngkin is actively working to end our participation in this vital climate initiative. He promised a month into his governorship to pull Virginia out of RGGI, “terming it a tax on electricity ratepayers and a bad deal for them and for business.” We can’t let Youngkin undermine this important initiative, especially when we know that our participation in RGGI has brought positive change to our Commonwealth.
The power is in the hands of our General Assembly to decide whether we will continue to participate in RGGI. We know that this is a program aiming to protect Creation, to protect our neighbors and public health, and to protect the future of the Commonwealth. We need to make sure we hold our state legislators accountable to keep Virginia in RGGI, to invest in our communities and combat climate change.
At a time when people across the state and the nation are already suffering from climate disruption ranging from record-breaking storms, to rising seas on the coast, and the increasing burden of utility bills and shutoffs, it is up to us to urge our legislators to end the destruction of our environment.