Governor Glenn Youngkin, Attorney General Jason Miyares, and Lieutenant Governor Winsome Sears took their oaths of office on Saturday afternoon, followed by a howitzer salute from the Army National Guard. Then, Youngkin gave his first speech as governor, with an emphasis on a “common path forward” and with renewed promises from his campaign.
“Our politics have become too toxic. Soundbites have replaced solutions — taking precedence over good faith problem-solving,” he said. “My fellow Virginians, I come to this moment, and to this office, knowing we must bind the wounds of division. Restore trust. Find common cause for the common good.”
Attorney General Mark Herring issued an opinion Wednesday saying that Governor-elect Glenn Youngkin cannot pull Virginia from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI,) a program where utilities have to bid for carbon dioxide emissions allowances. Youngkin has said he would use executive action to leave the RGGI. Herring’s opinion says that since Virginia entering the initiative was the result of laws passed by the General Assembly, Youngkin can’t use executive action alone to pull Virginia from the program.
“Climate change remains an urgent and ever-growing threat to Virginians, their safety, their health, and their communities. Virginia’s participation in RGGI is crucial to reducing our carbon pollution, while simultaneously investing hundreds of millions of dollars in mitigation and resilience efforts,” Herring said in a press release
Former Trump EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler will be Secretary of Natural Resources, and former Federal Reserve System Chief Information Officer Margaret “Lyn” McDemid will be Secretary of Administration, Youngkin’s campaign announced Wednesday. Youngkin also announced that Michael Rolband will be Director of Environmental Quality.
“Virginia needs a diverse energy portfolio in place to fuel our economic growth, continued preservation of our natural resources, and a comprehensive plan to tackle rising sea levels. Andrew and Michael share my vision in finding new ways to innovate and use our natural resources to provide Virginia with a stable, dependable, and growing power supply that will meet Virginia’s power demands without passing the costs on to the consumer,” said Governor-elect Youngkin.
The Virginia Clean Economy Act (VCEA) is one of the signature pieces of legislation Democrats passed during their control of Virginia’s General Assembly and the governor’s mansion. It set deadlines for utilities to be 100-percent carbon, set energy efficiency standards for utilities, declared that solar and wind are “in the public interest,” created a Virginia Community Flood Preparedness Fund, and brought Virginia into the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI,) a program where utilities have to bid for carbon dioxide emissions allowances.
The day after the act passed out of the House in February 2020, House Minority Leader Todd Gilbert (R-Shenandoah) called Democrats’ actions including the VCEA historic, but warned that those bills would have far-reaching impacts, including higher energy prices for citizens and businesses.
Governor-elect Glenn Youngkin announced that he will use an executive order to pull Virginia from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), an 11-state cap-and-trade initiative aimed at reducing utility carbon dioxide emissions by requiring utilities to bid for carbon dioxide allowances in state auctions. Youngkin’s commitment is one of his first specific energy and environmental policy statements, but he couched it as part of his broader plan to lower Virginians’ cost of living.
“RGGI will cost ratepayers over the next four years an estimated $1 billion to $1.2 billion dollars,” Youngkin said Wednesday to the Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce.. “RGGI describes itself as a regional market for carbon, but it is really a carbon tax that is fully passed on to ratepayers. It’s a bad deal for Virginians. It’s a bad deal for Virginia businesses, and as Governor, I will withdraw us from RGGI by Executive Action. I promised to lower the cost of living in Virginia and this is just the beginning.”