newsyoungkin needs to keep virginia in the regional greenhouse gas initiative

Youngkin needs to keep Virginia in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative

glenn youngkin
(© Michael Robb Photography – Shutterstock)

When Gov. Youngkin unveiled his budget, it contained such a glaring shortage of funding for affordable housing that his statements about prioritizing housing seemed ludicrous. He then began trying to pull Virginia out of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (“RGGI”), a cooperative effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through cap and trade credits that has generated nearly $590,000,000 for Virginia since it joined in 2020.

In January 2023, former Attorney General Mark Herring issued an official opinion stating that Gov. Youngkin does not have the legal authority to pull Virginia out of the RGGI program through an executive order or other executive action, as Virginia’s participation in RGGI was mandated as part of the Clean Energy and Community Flood Preparedness Act of 2020.

Ironically, Gov. Youngkin has recently announced the availability of more than $93,000,000 in Affordable and Special Needs Housing loans to preserve and create nearly 4,000 units of housing for low income households. This would appear to provide a substantial boost in improving the availability of affordable housing in Virginia. Until you look more closely.

The loans the governor is making available are funded through four main programs, one of which is the Housing Innovations in Efficiency (“HIEE”) program, which itself is funded through RGGI, the very program our Governor wants to quit.

Gov. Youngkin’s attempt to withdraw from RGGI would defeat the state’s progress in cutting back greenhouse gas emissions. His claims of support for funding affordable housing hold no credence once Virginians discover his duplicity.

Virginia desperately needs to protect and improve affordable housing. In Waynesboro, alone, there are roughly 400 people on the waiting list to get housing, many of those for years. Is our governor hoping Virginians are not paying attention to the fine print and to his duplicity? The governor’s lack of transparency and compassion towards those who need an affordable home is insulting to us all.

As a member of the Waynesboro chapter of Virginia Organizing, I call on the governor to keep Virginia in RGGI and to continue working toward providing affordable and energy efficient housing for all.

Connie Wright-Zink resides in Middlebrook.

Connie Wright-Zink

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