Governor Glenn Youngkin is trying to withdraw Virginia from participation in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), and the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) published a Youngkin-ordered report on the program, which requires utilities to bid on carbon dioxide allowances.
“Costs are soaring for Virginia families and as governor, I pledged to address over taxation and Virginia’s high cost of living. That’s why I signed Executive Order Nine to direct DEQ to examine the impact of RGGI and start the process of ending Virginia’s participation. This report reveals that RGGI is in reality a carbon tax passed on to families, individuals and businesses throughout the Commonwealth – it’s a bad deal for Virginians,” Youngkin said in a press release Tuesday.
Virginia is one of 11 states to participate in the program, which holds periodic auctions for the allowances. On March 11, the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, Inc., announced that 21.8 million allowances were sold in the first auction of 2022. 5.5 million were sold in Virginia, earning $74.2 million in proceeds. Virginia was the first state in the South to enter RGGI. According to a 2020 announcement from former Governor Ralph Northam, proceeds from the auctions go to community flood preparedness, coastal resilience, and energy efficiency programs for low-income Virginians.
Youngkin’s release summarized key points from the report, including, “Because of the captive nature of their ratepayers, the ability for power-generators to fully pass on costs to consumers, and the fact that the Code of Virginia dedicates RGGI proceeds to grants programs, participation in RGGI is in effect a direct carbon tax on all households and businesses.”
The release adds, “In addition, consumers are unable to avoid the pass through of these costs because they do not have the opportunity to switch electric providers – Dominion and other providers are monopolies in most regions of Virginia.”
Eric Burk is a reporter at The Virginia Star and The Star News Network. Email tips to [email protected].
Photo “Glenn Youngkin” by Glenn Youngkin.