Senate committee backs Clean Power Plan block

earthThe Senate Finance Committee approved a bill that would delay or obstruct implementation of the Clean Power Plan in Virginia. Under current law, the executive branch can submit a compliance plan without legislative signoff. Senator Ben Chafin’s (R – Russell) SB 21 would require the General Assembly to review and approve any such plan — a change that carries an expected cost of approximately $350,000.

Said Sen. Louise Lucas (D – Portsmouth), “Climate change threatens the very existence of many coastal communities. We need to swiftly and proactively address that danger, and the Clean Power Plan offers a way to do so. I’m disappointed that Republicans would spend taxpayer dollars to obstruct and delay that work.”

Said the committee’s ranking Democrat, Sen. Janet Howell (D – Fairfax), “This bill would politicize a process that needs to be objective and impartial. The Clean Power Plan will create jobs and lower energy bills. Why would we want to spend time and money delaying those benefits?”

The Clean Power Plan is the Obama administration’s initiative to reduce heat-trapping carbon emissions from existing power plants, which are a major driver of climate change. All states are required to submit a plan to meet a specific reduction target; under current law, Virginia can prepare and submit such a plan without waiting for the General Assembly’s approval. If the GOP-controlled legislature were to involve itself, and if Republicans were to block any compliance plan from moving forward, a plan would eventually be imposed by the federal government.

Studies suggest that a well-designed Clean Power Plan compliance plan could create jobs and lower power bills in Virginia. A Natural Resources Defense Council brief documenting potential environmental and economic benefits of CPP compliance is available here.

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