This afternoon, Senate Republicans axed Democrats’ final hope at gaining some traction on the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) in Virginia. RGGI is a multi-state, market-based approach that seeks to slow climate change by requiring power companies to pay when they pollute.
Sponsored by Senator Lynwood Lewis (D-Accomack), SJ 291 called for a study to be conducted into the possibility of Virginia joining RGGI and using any new revenues for flood resilience in coastal communities. The resolution failed on a near-party-line vote of 21-17. (Twenty-six votes were required for passage.)
The study was to be conducted by the professional, non-partisan staff at DEQ for the purpose of providing valuable information to legislators. As well as studying the potential impacts here in Virginia, the resolution also specifically called for an analysis of the experiences in other states.
“I am disappointed that some of my colleagues fail to see the benefit in even studying in a non-partisan way the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative’s potential here in the Commonwealth,” said Senator Lynwood Lewis. “This program has the potential to not only protect the delicate ecosystem on which the Commonwealth relies and ensure our long-term sustainability, but also to provide revenue that would help deal with imminent problems such as sea level rise in Hampton Roads. This study would have been a great first step in understanding what has the potential to be an accomplishment for the future of Virginia. We are not going to tackle climate change by turning a blind eye to the problem; we need to confront the problem head on.”
Senator Donald McEachin (D-Henrico) introduced SB 1428 earlier this session, which aimed to implement RGGI in Virginia. This measure was also voted down by Senate Republicans. “Our coastlines are vulnerable to the rise in sea levels that is coming,” said Senator McEachin. “We need to be pro-active because climate change is real and it is here to stay. It is our duty, as Virginia law-makers and policy-setters, to identify and implement legislation that will help us to combat the adverse effects of climate change. It is time to act, and I am disappointed that my Republican colleagues fail to see that.”