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Virginia Senate committee stops bill that would end involvement in RGGI

If passed, HB 1301 would have ended Virginia's involvement in a regional market aimed at reducing CO2 emissions.

NORFOLK, Va. — Author's note: The video above is about a recent poll from The Wason Center. It aired on Feb. 21, 2022.

A committee in the Virginia Senate voted to stop a bill Tuesday that would end the Commonwealth's involvement in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), a market that seeks to cap and reduce emissions across 11 states.

The Senate Committee on Agriculture, Conservation and Natural Resources voted 8 to 7 to stop HB 1301, which passed the Republican-majority Virginia House of Delegates in a 52 to 48 vote.

The action taken by the committee was "Passed By Indefinitely," which means the committee can reconsider legislation at a later meeting. If the committee doesn't act, the bill is dead.

The bill would have amended the Clean Energy and Community Flood Preparedness Act, which authorized Virginia's participation in RGGI and established the Virginia Community Flood Preparedness Fund (CFPF) to address flooding impacts.

The law requires regulations that cap carbon dioxide emissions annually. Under the program, power companies have to acquire allowances for every short ton of carbon dioxide they emit, which are distributed at quarterly actions.

The proceeds from those auctions go to community flood preparedness, coastal resilience, and energy efficiency programs across Virginia, including the CFPF.

The other states that participate in RGGI are Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island and Vermont.

Before his inauguration, Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin vowed to pull Virginia out of RGGI, arguing that it was too expensive for the Commonwealth to take part in.

After taking office, Youngkin signed an executive order aimed at withdrawing from the regional market, stating it could be done "by legislative or regulatory action."

Despite actions taken against the program, a recent poll from The Wason Center at Christopher Newport University found that 67% of Virginians support RGGI, while 26% are opposed.

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