Northam vetoes bill that would limit efforts to clean environment
The bill, which had passed the House and Senate by narrow majorities in February, would prohibit the governor or any state agency from adopting any regulation establishing a carbon dioxide cap-and-trade program or establishing participation in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative or any similar program without explicit majority vote approval by both houses of the General Assembly.
Northam, in his veto statement, said the state “must have all the tools available to combat climate change and protect its residents.”
“These tools include the ability to adopt regulations, and rules and guidance that mitigate the impacts of climate change by reducing carbon pollution in the Commonwealth. The governor and state agencies should not be limited in their ability to protect the environment and in turn, the citizens of the Commonwealth,” Northam said.
“Furthermore, this prohibition would tie Virginia’s hands in the global race to lead the clean energy economy and create the jobs that come with it. A Commonwealth with our resources and workforce should be on the leading edge of this promising sector, not erecting barriers to innovation and economic growth,” the governor said.
The move was met with applause from Sierra Club Virginia Chapter Director Kate Addleson, who said the bill “threatened to stop years of work toward climate action in Virginia, including the current Clean Energy Virginia Initiative. Virginia is the first southern state to actively address climate change and this work is too important to stop.”
“Gov. Northam’s veto is a reaffirmation of his commitment to climate action and we applaud him for it,” Addleson said. “Utilizing regional markets to cut carbon pollution is a proven, bipartisan and cost-effective way to address climate change. Virginia should be exploring every avenue to fight the climate crisis. Blocking access to regional markets, as this bill intended, would be wrong.”