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Herring: Youngkin can’t withdraw Virginia from RGGI

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Gov.-elect Glenn Youngkin and incoming Attorney General Jason Miyares have made withdrawing the Commonwealth from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative a top priority.

The outgoing attorney general, Mark Herring, issued an official advisory opinion today saying they wouldn’t be able to do so legally.

“The Virginia Constitution is clear: the governor does not have the authority to single-handedly repeal or eliminate a law or regulation that has been passed by the General Assembly. It is time we all work together to fight climate change and leave a better, healthier planet for future generations,” Herring said Tuesday.

Virginia joined the RGGI, a cap-and-trade program that establishes a price on carbon dioxide pollution in the power sector in 11 Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic states, in 2020 when the General Assembly passed the Clean Energy and Community Flood Preparedness Act.

That legislation authorized the Department of Environmental Quality to establish “a carbon dioxide cap and trade program to reduce carbon emissions…[and] authorizes the Director of DEQ ‘to establish, implement, and manage an auction program to sell allowances into a market-based trading program consistent with the [Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative] program and this article.’”

Herring explains in his opinion that, according to the separation of powers doctrine, “the Constitution of Virginia does not grant the Governor the power to suspend laws, in fact it requires the opposite that ‘[t]he Governor shall take care that the laws be faithfully executed.’”

Herring adds that the Constitution “provides ‘[t]hat all power of suspending laws, or the execution of laws, by any authority, without consent of the representatives of the people, is injurious to their rights, and ought not to be exercised.’”

Story by Chris Graham

augusta free press
augusta free press