- The Virginia Department of Environmental Quality next week will present a new climate plan for the state, aimed at reducing carbon emissions and placing it on a path to join a regional greenhouse gas trading initiative.
- The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, a carbon cap-and-trade system used by nine Northeast states, has examined the DEQ's plan and issued a statement saying it "appears consistent with the RGGI program in a number of key ways."
- The new climate plan is seen as a direct result of the election of Democrat Ralph Northam as governor on Tuesday of this week. Virginia has seen its carbon dioxide emissions rise about 7% since 2015, according to data from the Environmental Protection Agency, while most states have decreased emissions.
Virginia officials waited until after this week's election to unveil their plan, confirming that the Old Dominion is considering linking up with the RGGI initiative.
Virginia's proposal includes many of the improvements RGGI states have recently incorporated into their cap-and-trade scheme, including: a cap that declines 30% between 2020 and 2030; incorporation of a Cost Containment Reserve; and an Emissions Containment Reserve to enhance market stability.
"Virginia's proposal to conduct consignment auctions is indicative of their support of RGGI’s market-based approach to pricing emission," RGGI said in a statement yesterday.
RGGI confirmed its state members "have held productive and collaborative conversations with Virginia representatives as they crafted their regulation."
Last month, the cooperative released a report tracking RGGI investments in year 2015, concluding that more than $410 million in proceeds from the market were invested in programs including energy efficiency, clean and renewable energy, greenhouse gas abatement, and direct bill assistance.
The report concludes the 2015 investments are projected to provide participating households and businesses with $2.31 billion in energy bill savings, as well as avoiding the use of 9 million MWh of electricity and 28 million MMBtu of fossil fuel.
Over the course of RGGI’s entire track record through the year 2015, investments are projected to provide a total of more than $7 billion in energy bill savings.
E&E News reporter Ben Storrow took to twitter to break down why the move is significant for Virginia. Several gas plants coming online in recent years have pushed the state's emissions up more than 30% since 2012.
The DEQ will present its emissions proposal to the Virginia State Air Pollution Control Board on Nov. 16.